A technology checklist for determining whether prospective office space will meet your needs
Relocating to a new office presents an exciting chance to enhance your small business. An office with robust technology infrastructure and capabilities can boost employee productivity and quality of life, minimize your move-in and set-up costs, and create an opportunity to leverage new technologies. Every business has its own unique needs and priorities, but a technology checklist can help you find the office that’s right for you.
Here are eight factors to consider when vetting office space:
1. Power and cooling systems
Your first and most basic consideration is power. Can the prospective office building supply enough power to satisfy your technology needs? Servers, computers, and monitors are more efficient than ever and most commercial buildings will offer adequate power. But if your business involves power-intensive computing, it’s worth confirming the availability of ample power.
Also, ensure that the building offers sufficient air conditioning and ventilation for your current and future needs. As servers need adequate cooling to perform optimally and avoid failures.
2. Sufficient physical space
This issue usually comes down to two main criteria: space for your employees’ computers and peripherals, and server-room capacity. Do your employees have multiple computers and peripherals? Will the individual work areas provide adequate space and power outlets? How much server-room space will you need over time?
3. Communications service providers
Your communications service provider (CSP) will be one of the most important pieces of your technology infrastructure. Depending on your geographic location, you will have access to different CSPs. Find out immediately which CSPs serve the prospective building and if they offer the voice and data services you need. Do you need fiber optic connectivity to the Internet or is a T-1 line adequate?
4. Wireless connectivity
Although many businesses expect wireless networking, not all office buildings offer it. A building’s density of tenants, security concerns, and the CSP serving the building are all factors that affect the availability of wireless. If wireless computing is a priority, be sure to confirm it’s possible.
5. Phone and computer cabling
Phone and computer cabling is one of the most commonly overlooked up-front costs for small businesses. “Many of our small business tenants don’t realize that, depending on their needs, there can be significant costs to wiring an office with data and phone cables before they move in,” said Andrea Landsberg-Reeder, a vice president at Sunset Development Company in San Ramon, California. “It’s why we are proactive in pre-wiring each office suite from the main phone closet and certifying the existing cabling in each suite so that the telecommunications set-up process is as seamless as possible for new tenants. This saves them time and money.”
When considering an office space, ask if cabling already exists for phones and computers. And if so, how extensively is it wired? Does it extend throughout the office or does it only go to the phone and server rooms? Hiring a technician to run cabling throughout your office isn’t cheap, so the more completely it’s cabled, the better.
6. Phone systems
Another considerable expense is the office phone system itself. Some offices may provide a preinstalled system, which can save you a lot in up-front telecommunications costs. In general, moving offices is a good time to evaluate your current phone system and consider upgrading if it’s not meeting your needs.
7. IP-based security
If physical security is a high priority, inquire about the availability of IP (Internet protocol)-based security systems. Many physical security systems are now designed to run on IP networks, making it possible to integrate access control, alarm monitoring, video surveillance, and even temperature monitoring and control over the Internet.
8. Tenant intranets
Though they’re not necessarily critical, tenant intranets and web portals have become increasingly popular and convenient resources. Tenants can use them to pay their rent, access and request services, and communicate easily with other tenants. It may not be a deal breaker, but perhaps a “nice to have” worth considering.
Has your small business moved offices recently? What technology considerations topped your “must have” list?