Connections for Success

 

01.19.22

Considering New Office Space
Kevin Omahen

Where your not-for-profit organization is located and how you use the space you have can make a significant difference in the overall success of the organization. This was even more apparent in the past year when offices were not utilized at all, yet lease or mortgage payments were still due.  

Even with the economy bouncing back, having your employees and volunteers return to previous uses of office space could be a mistake. For instance, you may be overpaying for the property you are leasing or there might be a less costly space in a similar area. The way your space is configured might also no longer be appropriate if hybrid work arrangements, prompted by the pandemic, became permanent. Considerations should be taken into account regarding hybrid arrangements with staff, whether they work remotely or in person, based on the needs of the organization.

Related Read: The Real Estate Industry Awaits a Return to Normalcy and Focuses on Tenants, not Valuations

Utilizing space

Some organizations, including not-for-profit organizations, have converted staff to full-time remote positions. It became clear over months of stay-at-home orders that, equipped with reliable Wi-Fi, quality devices and the necessary software, employees could perform their jobs without being onsite.

One consideration to be made for organizations that can allow for remote working positions is a hoteling system. This system allows employees to share space or check out an office or desk when they are in the office. It allows the organization to reduce their total office space as staff will no longer be in the office 100% of the time.

Another consideration to make is: Where are your programs operated? Do you need space to run your programs or is this space located separately from your office? Although administrative staff may function as effective remotely, programmatic employees are often essential to be in person and need the appropriate space to conduct the programs.

Making the transition

If you are not interested in a complete office space redesign, you can make other improvements. Many companies are looking to relocate from a large office to a smaller one or moving from the city to the suburbs.  

That might not make sense for your not-for-profit organization. But a move to a more desirable location could be in the cards — whether that desirability is based on easing employees’ commutes, being closer to your donors or just relocating to a more attractive building. With high vacancy rates driving down rents, and the possibility that you may choose to downsize, locations that were previously unaffordable might now be within reach.

Related Read: Watching Costs Is Always a Smart Investment

Let’s make a deal

Finally, your best opportunity in today’s environment may be to strike a better deal with your landlord. Several approaches might work. After you read your lease carefully, find out whether any of your landlord’s tenants have successfully negotiated better lease terms. You may also be able to determine your building occupancy rates to determine your leverage.

If you are in the market for reducing your space or making a move you may want to consider the following:

  • Ask for an amended lease with reduced rent and possibly reduced space;
  • Extend your lease, but reduce your space;
  • Negotiate common area maintenance charges; or
  • Sublease some of your space.

For more information, contact Kevin Omahen at [email protected] or 312.670.7444. Visit ORBA.com to learn more about our Not-For-Profit Group.

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