Moving to a New Office? 7 Questions You Need to Ask About Tech. Although amenities, location, comfort level and pricing are important things to consider when looking for new office space, tech infrastructure is most important.
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
Searching for new office space is often an arduous – but exciting – process. While touring potential locations, it's easy to imagine your business thriving, employees enjoying their new surroundings. Finally, after looking at a couple dozen locations, you find it. It's just what you wanted – high ceilings, prime location with lots of transportation options and great spots for team-building activities, plenty of space for a creative build-out – and for the right price. Although amenities, location, comfort level and pricing are important things to consider when looking for new office space, there is another critical factor that many businesses are not keeping at the front of mind, the one that can impact your business the most: the building's tech infrastructure.
More industries are moving their entire product offerings – and workforces – to cloud- or web-based frameworks, and the ability to get and stay connected is more important than ever. With businesses becoming increasingly reliant on the Internet to interact with clients, customers and colleagues, every company should be careful and strategic about the building they call home.
When you find yourself on the hunt for office space, you should keep in mind the following questions about IT and telecom. Here are seven questions to ask your broker or potential landlord:
What are your telecom needs?
Before packing a single box, make sure you've clearly defined your company's tech requirements. Leverage a trusted IT advisor – whether it's your CTO, head of IT, or an outside telecom consultant, to help you determine critical connectivity requirements. For example, a high-frequency trading desk will have very different IT needs than an art studio. If the Internet is your bread and butter, you should be able to clearly communicate your speed, reliability, and security requirements to your broker or potential landlord so that they can best assess if a building has the tech infrastructure to support your growing business.
Related: Tony Robbins: Could Moving Be the Answer?
Which telecom providers and carriers are currently in the building?
Which companies currently serve the building? It can range from big telecom companies, cable companies and independent fiber providers to Competitive Local Exchange Carriers that lease telecom lines from large telecom companies and resell them. It's a good idea to look for buildings with a wide range of providers. Creating competition among them means better pricing and services for you. Knowing the full range of options in the building will help you determine the perfect provider and plan for your company.
What services do these providers and carriers offer?
Although large providers like Level3 or Verizon might have connectivity to the building, they might not be able to offer their full range of services due to the building's infrastructure. This could limit your connectivity, and, therefore, affect your business. Your best bet is to look for buildings with fiber-based tech services – a key data point to find out whether the building is fiber-lit, or if it only offers older, slower and more outdated copper-based services. Fiber cables use light pulses to send signals at the speed of light, and as the latest technology, is a good indicator of how much your building values its tech infrastructure and how well it can support your businesses connectivity needs.
Is my potential office space equipped for service?
Here's where gauging Internet connectivity in your office space can get even trickier: Even though fiber services might be technically "available" in the building, the actual floor or office space that you are leasing might not be equipped for fiber. For example, your building might say it offers fiber. But in some cases, the fiber cables may be way down in the basement, nowhere near your office! Perhaps the previous tenant used other services, and the fiber cables are not connected to your office.
Building out your Internet connections requires planning for added construction, higher costs and extra time before the office is move-in ready, which results in extra headaches. To avoid delays and get your business up and running as quickly and seamlessly as possible, look for buildings with a dedicated telecom closet in your space that has the fiber "pulled" into it already. This will save you time, money and hassles in an already long and expensive process.
What's the experience of other tenants in the building?
Moving into a new building means new neighbors – a whole community of new businesses that are happy to meet and share insight with you about the inner workings of the building. Reaching out to other companies in the building gives you a chance to ask about their experience. Are there any problems with or recommendations for the Internet providers at the property? This dialogue allows you to benefit from their wisdom and avoid their pitfalls, all while getting to know your future neighbors. A win-win!
Is the landlord willing to bring new providers into the building?
It's happened to the best of us: You might find yourself falling in love even though you know it's not right for you. If your business requires Internet services that your building doesn't currently offer, some landlords may be willing to work with your preferred internet provider to meet your needs. Don't be afraid to ask your broker/landlord for a specific provider as a negotiating point when securing your lease in order to make sure you have the internet services your business needs to function.
Is the building Wired Certified?
Even when armed with information and a savvy team of consultants, it can still be difficult to get accurate and comprehensive IT and telecom information on office buildings. One way to streamline the process is to find out if the building is Wired Certified. A Wired Certified building has been independently vetted and confirmed to have what it says it has – so you can avoid costly miscommunications or mishaps based on inaccurate or outdated information. Wired Certified buildings are best-in-class in connectivity so you can rest assured that the building can support your internet-driven business.