8 factors to consider when moving offices

December 14, 2010 - 1 Comment

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?

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  1. Hi Dawn, thanks for the considered article. We are a Removals and Storage company soon to be based at our new Storage Warehouse in Neston, Wirral, United Kingdom and currently based (officewise) in our converted garage 10 minutes drive away in Heswall. Part of our business is carrying out office and other commercial removals for clients! The biggest problem we and many of those we move, have had, bar none, is dealing with with British Telecommunications (aka BT). Not only has the installation of new lines been tortuously slow, but systems we requested (in particular Hosted Voip) were not forthcoming. This made me think about the general considerations that arise from our specific problems. I raise questions , rather than give answers, in the hope this might assist others when making there telecomms choices.

    For example, what liability do your new telecomms providers have if they make a mistake that impacts on your business?
    And what service level standards are in place once you are in ie. how quickly will they get out and fix problems? Do you offer guarantees? and if so do current customers seem happy with there services (search suitably and you will probably find the answer to this, certainly if dissatisfaction is high).
    Another thing we have found is that we were given misleading or simply wrong information from British telecomms representatives, so getting everything in writing is not just advisable but essential. Check the information as much as you can. Do not commit to longer lease times than you need to and weigh the balance of any savings carefully, as this is a competitive, changing environment. This years good deal may seem expensive next year! Log the whole process, always take full names (not just first names). Believe it or not the telephone numbers BT staff give out are frequently wrong or go to a general switchboard who do not know of them. Direct dial numbers are rare so I strongly advise taking the email addresses of those you deal with and asking them to call you. Do not delay logging your dissatisfaction… being soft and reasonable did not seem to get us anywhere!

    Due to our own and others poor experiences of British Telecommunications, we have decided to phase our move over by just having BT move a less important telephone number over to a Voip line first and see how it goes. Our main numbers are too important to risk having stuck out there in the “ether”, whilst we frantically deal with the dissaray that is British Telecoms UK.

    American considerations may be different …better I hope! But I hope there is some useful comments here to help avoid some pitfalls.