In Tanzania, it is common for people to rent residential properties (homes) as office spaces. However, finding the right office space for your business is quite different from finding a house. When looking for an office, you often have to think about more people than just you and your family. Everything from location, size, parking to the number of bathrooms may affect both your employees and clients.
So, apart from costs, here are the important things to consider when looking for an office space.
Depending on what type of business you run, your location may determine the success or failure of your business. For instance, if you are an accounting firm offering your services to small and mid-size businesses, then it may be better to be located at the city center where many businesses are and where your marketing and sales team can quickly meet up with clients.
So, you should think about who your clients are, and how you communicate with them – if it is mostly through phone calls and email, then being conveniently located will not matter as much as it would if business transactions were mostly face to face.
Moreover, think of the day-to-day needs of your employees and clients when finding a location for your office. These include:
- Client location: Are your clients clustered in one area, or spread through out the city, region, country?
- Traffic: How long will it take employees and clients to get to your location?
- Neighborhood safety: Some of your staff may not have cars and may have to walk to the bus stop to catch a bus – can they do this safely? Also, being in an ‘unsafe’ area may chase away business prospectives.
- Public transport: Not everyone will have a car, so, can they easily commute to and from work. You don’t want your employees spending too much time on the road, rather than at the office making you money.
- Amenities: Many workers in Tanzania do not carry lunch, so being in a location with some restaurant/meal service options is important to employee happiness. Also, depending on your business, are there places close by where you could take clients for drinks or a meal? Is there a convenient store/kiosk? A bank or ATM service? Etc.
2. Exterior of the space
The outside of your office is the first impression of your company that clients may have. So, when looking at office spaces, take note of:
- Does the building have a gate? Depending on your business, whether or not the building is gated matters. For instance, a hair salon doesn’t need a gate, and actually benefits from being easily visible and identifiable. Whereas a marketing agency may need a gate to create a sense of privacy and professionalism for their clients.
- Does it have a guard post? Most likely your business will need some form of security, having a guard post will not only make life easier for your watchman, but it’ll give your office a more professional look (The guard won’t look like they’re loitering around).
- Parking space: If you are going to rent a house, make sure it has enough parking. Think about your company size and the average number of employees with cars. If you plan on growing think about that too, and also, your clients. Having your own parking will save you, your employees and clients from the daily frustrations of finding safe and free parking.
- Perks: For instance, if you are a tech company that has an informal work environment and Friday parties, then finding a space with a cool Jacuzzi or BBQ area may be a nice feature.
3. Interior of the space
This is what most people concentrate on when looking for an office. So questions to ask include:
- Is there enough space? Can the space fit all your employees comfortably and still have room for more? Can you fit in desks, chairs, computers, cabinets comfortably? Moreover, what type of work environment do you want: an open office work space, cubicles or departments to have their own room?
- Are there enough washrooms? While this technically falls under the ‘enough room’ question, it’s important enough to get special mention. Your employees will be at work for at least 8 hours a day, making sure that there are enough washrooms for them (and clients) to use separately is critical to their comfort.
- Can you decorate? Here is when asking questions and reading the lease is critical. In order to help your business match your brand ‘character’, you may need to paint the walls a different color or add certain fixtures. Make sure you can do so. And find out if you are required to return the home in the condition you found it once your lease is up.
- Is it noisy? This is something that a lot of us ignore when viewing offices. Yes, the lack of furniture may make a space sound louder than it is, but it’s worth getting an idea of the acoustics. So, does it echo? Are the walls thin? Can you hear noises from outside? Can you hear people talking in the other rooms?
An office is also home
While there is a lot to think about when looking for an office space, at the end of the day, it’s all about finding the right environment to help your business grow. If you keep in mind the needs of your clients and employees, you will surely find a spot that will become a home away from home.