Consider Security Issues When Hunting for Office Space
Janelle Benjamin, a realtor for Red Real Estate, a boutique commercial real estate firm based in New York, specializes in office leasing for established small businesses, branch offices and start ups. She helps clients find commercial space that will meet all the special needs of their business, including safety concerns. Since office safety is such an important issue for small business owners to think about, she took some time to discuss some tips for finding space that won’t compromise business security.
Should Business Owners Focus Most on Safety and Security Issues, Location, or Cost?
“They all relate to each other. The focus depends on the business and its priorities. If a lot of clients are coming in, you’ll want an impressive building and you won’t want to have them walking down a back alley. For this type of business, location is most important. If it is just you, your spouse and a friend and you want to keep your overhead low, price is most important. A tech company will put security first.
Also, if you have staff, think about staff safety. You don’t want them to leave the office in a less secure location at 7 o’clock all alone. In areas where employees use public transportation heavily, some companies give employees taxi vouchers after hours or have security walk them out to the car.
If employees perceive danger, it can take them away from company even if there isn’t real danger. They may relocate to a company that makes them feel safer. A company with staff should make safety a priority.”
Is it Difficult to find Safe Office Space on a Typical Small Business Budget?
“It isn’t very difficult. Safety involves getting to know other people in a building or on a floor. Know who works there and you can spot someone who doesn’t belong there. If you can’t afford a building with 24/7 security and an attendant, the other business owners will look out for you.”
What Safety and Security Features Should a Small Business Owner Look For?
“In order of importance, I’d say a small business owner should look for:
- A lobby attendant and the hours he or she works. (9-5, after hours, 24/7 etc.)
- Overall safety features, like cameras and security personnel doing rounds.
- The life of the building. You should think about how many businesses there are and the deliveries they get. Is there tons of traffic? Do employees come in at 9 and leave at 5:30?
- The traffic patterns of people on your floor. If there are a lot of deliveries, erratic hours and a lot of staff turnover, security can be harder to handle.”
What Safety Concern Should Make a Business Owner Walk Away From a Low Rent, High Traffic Location?
“It goes back to your staff. It is one thing to put yourself on the line. It is another thing to put employees on the line. If you are considering a location you aren’t sure of, bring an employee by and see how he feels.”
Does Having an Unsafe Location Affect the Business’s Bottom Line?
“Absolutely. Employees will quit. Buyers won’t want to do business. Curb appeal matters for businesses as much as it does for noncommercial real estate.”
Once small business owners understand that the safety of a location can impact the company’s profits and can cause employee retention problems, they can make an educated decision about the actual savings they will realize if they choose a lower cost, but less secure, commercial real estate location.