Don’t let your property drive your business – let the business drive the property

March 29, 2023
Office space in Bournemouth
The journey towards commercial lease expiry has always required occupiers to think long and hard about what the future holds for their business in property terms, but this has been amplified significantly as a result of the pandemic.

Whereas before, there would be a relatively straight-forward series of steps and considerations to take into account ahead of a forthcoming lease expiry, now, businesses need to go much farther in their thinking, as they assess what the post-pandemic workplace needs to look like.

The expiry of your commercial lease represents an invaluable opportunity to establish this, and really evaluate your property (and workforce) requirements.

Ideally, you should start thinking about what this looks like 24 months ahead of your lease expiring. But where do you start?

First, you need determine what it is that you want from your premises, what you want to achieve and what brand image are you trying to portray. If you are committing to a 5-10 year lease, it is likely this will  go beyond your business plan cycle, so it is important to get this stage right.

We kick-start this process with a discovery phase, sitting down with key stakeholders within our clients’ businesses, to understand what it is that they are trying to achieve.

It’s a bit like what you would do with your independent financial adviser (IFA) when discussing investment risk appetite or if you are building the next big software package for your market place. The same is true of your commercial property requirements – we establish what your objectives and preferences are.

This will inform whether or not your current premises fits your brand and needs, and if it isn’t what needs to happen – from liaising with your landlord around potential refurbishment options, to exploring new locations and buildings.

Some of the key questions we ask as part of this process include:
What are your business and brand values?

Your property acts as an extension of your brand, so it is important for it to reflect your brand values. Think about how you want to convey these externally through your commercial premises and how you want to differentiate yourself from your competitors.

What do you want your premises to do for your business?

Think about how you work and how you want your premises to work for your business. Have you embraced hybrid and smart working practices? Do you need Zoom rooms or video conferencing space? What about space to socialise or collaborate – this is particularly important for businesses in the creative industries.

What is your staff profile like?

Think about who you are trying to attract and bring into the office, as this will inform how the property needs to appeal to that audience.

Is your staff profile made up of a range of age groups and does each have a different preference for working?

Is your workforce quite young and vibrant? If so, this will impact the type of office environment you want to create.

You may find that a more experienced workforce wants to work more flexibly, so you might need less space than before, but with a good standard of amenity and quality. Also think about where you staff profile maybe in the future.

Where do you need to be?

Again, this might change, based on the type of environment that you want create, or the rental values / budget you have in mind. Or, if your workforce is based predominantly elsewhere, you might want to consider a different location, moving out of a London HQ, for example, in favour of regional satellite offices.

What is your ESG policy and what are your expectations around green credentials?

Businesses are, rightly, increasing their expectations of landlords around the green credentials of the buildings they occupy, as they implement Environmental, Social and Governance Policies within their own business.

Indeed, we have done the same ourselves, and have a commitment to shrink our carbon footprint by 10% year on year.

So, think about what this looks like for your business in terms of your premises carbon emissions and green credentials such as BREEAM and EPC Ratings, LED lighting, solar PV and more.

Once we know the answers to these questions, we articulate the outcomes, including an analysis of your current useage and future needs, in a detailed property report. Our office agents can then explore what is available in the market to meet these needs.

Even if you are happy where you are, it is beneficial to do this and visit what is on offer elsewhere, as it can change your mindset, or help to inform landlord negotiations further down the line.

If you remain happy where you are, but would like some improvements making to your building to improve the quality and make-up of space on offer, or to meet your ESG requirements, we can open up a dialogue with your landlord around potential refurbishment options ahead of lease renewal.

For many businesses approaching lease expiry, their future office needs will be significantly different than they were before COVID-19.

For help with a forthcoming lease event, with insight to inform your future workplace strategy working in conjunction with our occupier advisory team, get in touch.

Together with our commercial property agents, we can help to ensure that your business drives your property needs, and not the other way round.