United States: Consideration of new office space
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The location of your nonprofit and how you utilize the space available can make a significant difference to the organization’s overall success. This was even more evident last year when many offices were not being used at all but rent or mortgage payments were still due.
Even if the economy picks up, letting your staff and volunteers return to previous uses of office space could be a mistake. For example, you may be overpaying for the property you are leasing, or there may be a less expensive property in a similar area. The way your space is configured may also no longer be appropriate if hybrid work arrangements triggered by the pandemic become permanent. Hybrid arrangements considerations with employees, whether working remotely or in person, should be considered based on the needs of the organization.
Some organizations, including nonprofits, have transitioned their employees to full-time remote positions. After months of homestay assignments, it became clear that staff, equipped with reliable WiFi, high-quality equipment and the necessary software, could get their work done without being on site.
One consideration for organizations that can allow remote work is a hotel system. This system allows employees to share a seat or check out an office or desk when they are in the office. It allows the organization to reduce their overall office space as employees will no longer be in the office 100% of the time.
Another consideration is: Where are your programs operated? Do you need space for your programs or is that space separate from your office? Although administrative staff can work just as effectively remotely, programmatic staff often need to be present in person and need the appropriate space to run the programs.
MAKE THE TRANSITION
If you’re not interested in a total office makeover, there are other improvements you can make. Many companies want to move from a large office to a smaller office or move from the city to the suburbs.
That might not make sense for your nonprofit organization. But a move to a more desirable location could be on the horizon — whether that appeal comes from staff making commuting easier, being closer to your donors, or simply moving 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 could now be within reach.
Related Read: Expense tracking is always a smart investment
LET’S MAKE A DEAL
After all, your best opportunity in today’s environment may be to strike a better deal with your landlord. Several approaches could work. After carefully reading your lease, find out if any of your landlord’s tenants have successfully negotiated better lease terms. You may also be able to determine your building occupancy to determine your leverage.
If you are in the market to downsize or relocate, here are some things to consider:
- Request an amended lease with reduced rent and possibly reduced space;
- Extend your lease but reduce your space;
- Negotiate maintenance fees for common areas; or
- Sublet part of your space.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the topic. Professional advice should be sought in relation to your specific circumstances.
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