Whether you're a freelancer, small business owner or decision maker for a national or international company looking to establish a presence in Chicago, the need for office space is one of the first, and most important tasks to handle.
Before you start crunching numbers to purchase a location of your own, you might want to consider renting a space at a shared office center. There are a number of social and financial benefits to renting space at a shared office center. Not only do these communities make it easy to network with other professionals, but they also assist with various administrative functions, allowing you to focus on the core, revenue-generating aspects of your business.
Before committing to a long-term contract, however, it’s important to take a close look at the services and amenities offered at each facility.
Here are five important questions to ask:
- What is included in the monthly fee? While some office space providers offer a low base fee, seemingly standard services like phone and internet may be billed as an additional charge. Ask whether a receptionist and use of common areas like conference rooms and lounges are part of your contract.
- How is the space branded? You want to leave an impression of your brand with your clients, not the brand of your office space provider. Look closely at how the common areas and conference rooms are decorated. Branding can even pop up in unexpected places like water bottle labels or pens, so check that out, too. And ask whether you can paint your office or bring in your own furniture to make your space your own.
- Can I bring my own phone number and take it with me when I move? Whether you’re an established company or growing startup, it’s imperative your clients are able to reach you. Make sure you’ll be allowed to use your existing phone number and/or take your new number with you when you move.
- Can I adjust my contract as my business needs evolve? Find out whether you’ll be able to adjust your contract as your business grows or contracts. Also ask whether the office provider has any programs or brokerage services to help you find a new home if you ever outgrow their facility.
- What special perks are available? Just as you strive to create value for your clients, so should your office provider. Discounted or free parking, complimentary coffee and water service and access to amenities like an on-site gym or café are all things to look for when evaluating your office space options. It’s also important to consider location and how easily you—and your clients—will be able to get to the facility. Choosing a center within walking distance of the central business district and with easy access to public transportation will save valuable time that would otherwise be spent sitting in traffic.
Frank Chalupa is president and co-founder of Amata Office Centers, Chicago’s largest privately owned office suites provider. Founded in 2002, Amata offers an array of full- and part-time office solutions to businesses of all sizes. With six locations to choose from in downtown Chicago, including the company’s newest center at 150 S. Wacker Drive, Amata offers flexible terms that allow businesses to change and grow as needed. Learn more at amataoffices.com.