If you need an office space in Blue Area Islamabad and you’re unsure where to start, just stay with me. Finding an office space always turns out to be more tedious than finding an apartment. And if the search gets limited to Blue Area only, it becomes nerve wrenching.
I know you’re of the view that Blue Area is all fine if you somehow get any corporate spot for your business. And given the amenities of this area like hospitals, food spots, mass transit and others, you may justify your point of view. But be aware that there is something more you should be considering.
Decreasing office space, overcrowded facilities, decaying infrastructure and exorbitant rent prices are some of the bottlenecks you need to worry about when finding an office here. However, nothing is as bleak as it may appear. Just follow me through these lines and find the perfect space for your business.
1. List down your requirements
Before getting into search, do you actually know what you’re looking for? Just take a pen and note down every requirement that you have or you may have in future. Remember, your business is supposed to be a growing activity, and you may need more staff, equipment and furniture in the future. So why not rent out an office space that could easily accommodate any sort of growth or expansion?
Some of the requirements on your list should be like area (square footage per person), lease term (for how long do you want the office), rent cap etc.
Secondly, do a little research and get an idea what are the specific requirements of your business type if you plan to rent an office space for the first time. For instance, requirements of a tech company are different than that of sales and marketing or advertising agency.
In Blue Area, office spaces range from 1000 square feet to 20000 square feet or more. Now if you’ve sorted out what you need, you are in a better position to start your search.
Over the last few years, the concept of a cabin, separate enclosure, desk or separate office has been replaced by open workstations. Therefore, the required space for your office ultimately reduces.
For a small or medium size entity that prefers to work on open space workstations, 60 to 110 sq.ft. per person is an international bench mark. In Blue Area, since space is expensive (over 140 per square foot) and relatively short, even 40 to 50 sq. ft per person too would work, including other in-house amenities.
For other office types, you may consider the following calculations:
- Large Enterprises – 200 to 400 sq. ft.
- Medium Enterprises – 150 to 250 sq. ft.
- Small Office – 90 to 150 sq. ft.
- Reception Area – 100 to 200 sq. ft. + 10 sq. ft. per person waiting
- Conference Room – 50 sq. ft + 25 sq. ft. per person seated
In addition to space, lease term also matters. In Blue Area, the lease terms generally vary from 1-5 years. Now if you’re a start-up, you must be careful about signing a longer contract, as one never knows how the new business turns out to be. And if you have an established business, try to get maximum years, as good spaces are hardly found; provided other formalities and requisites are nicely met.
2. What type of building should you look for?
Now if you know your requirements, you can look for an office space. Although, businesses generally engage brokers to get it done, the importance of self-inquiry and satisfaction has never declined.
The 5 km long Blue Area offers two types of commercial properties – towers and multi-story buildings. Since towers are occupied by multinational corporations and hospitals, small and medium enterprises are left to opt from multi-story buildings. If you closely inspect the facade and interior of these buildings, most of them are either torn out or lack basic facilities (water, sanitation, toilets, ventilation etc.). So stop here, take a break and consider the following things.
In your search for an office, you must ensure that the building’s facade is clearly visible and presentable; visible because you may use it for branding of your company and presentable because your office generally gives first impression to your visiting clients. Secondly, the building must have wide and tidy stairs or properly functional elevator, if it has four or more floors. Thirdly, it must have a maintenance system, under formal lease agreement, taking care of all chattels and periodic repair or renovation.
In Blue Area, landlords charge the tenants a considerable monthly sum in respect of maintenance, which they actually seldom or hardly do. To prevent such issues beforehand, give a tour to the building and ask the tenants about maintenance practice. If you’re unsatisfied but you don’t have other options, negotiate with the landlord and take maintenance responsibility in your hands, in return of exemption from the additional charges.
Fourth, make sure the building has adequate water supply in summers and winters, and has a functional power back up. Fifth and most important, there must be an excellent security arrangement on 24/7 basis for the building. Generally, a landlord provides a single security guard to the entire building who surprisingly, observes the office timings. So, your building is left at the mercy of burglars during night times.
3. Amenities within and outside your office
If it was other than Blue Area, I would’ve preferred mentioning transport facility first. The entire Blue Area has quite an adequate access to six metro bus stations, which has really made commute between the area and Rawalpindi easy. However, it’s always good that your office is located quite next to any of these transit points.
Secondly, since the entire Blue Area is a hub to commercial activities, food points get overcrowded during lunch time. It is preferable to consider proximity to any food spot, as it could save your employees’ time. However, if you couldn’t find any food center next to your building or in your building, don’t worry, all hotels provide free delivery service here.
Thirdly, you must ensure that parking facility is available for your employees. By facility, I do not mean exclusive parking lots or designated parking areas, as no such things exist in Blue Area, except in towers and very few buildings. In Blue Area, either service roads or green belts are used for parking, which though are getting crazily busy, does provide a relief of parking. If even this is not available by any chance, you better look for alternative options.
Similarly, amenities within office include appropriate number of toilets for both male and female staff and in house cafeteria. Others like prayer area, reception, stores, file rooms, and meeting room depend on how effectively the designer does partitioning of the office space.
Additionally, you may also consider whether in case of mass evacuation from the building, your office has any safe or emergency exits. Lastly, your office should have either air-conditioning and heating facility installed or at least could be installed.
4. Take lease agreement seriously
We prefer verbal commitments to a properly and comprehensively documented lease agreement. Therefore, issues between a tenant and a landlord start raising heads in the very first year. So the tip is, never rely on verbal understanding. All liabilities including rent, maintenance and security charges and additional expenses (if any) should be documented. Similarly, how and on what terms would these liabilities increase and decrease should also be a part of your lease agreement.
Secondly, every inch of your office and attached and unattached assets should be accounted for and any change in the status quo should be mentioned. I have seen when just a 50 sq. ft. space goes unaccounted in the agreement, it rubbishes everything. The tenant claimed it as a space within a space while the landlord insisted that it deserves additional rent. Consequently, the deal broke and the company had to move its more than 300 employees.
Similarly, if development of any sort is in progress in the building or the office, its completion date and purpose should be clearly mentioned.
5. Let an estate agent does magic for you
Renting a commercial property is for sure an expensive activity. Similarly, it involves a number of risks that test your nerves. So instead of consuming your energy and time, why not to let a professional does everything for you? From basic research to due diligence and from addressing insecurities to getting a lease agreement signed, leave every concern to his/her disposal and let something great rolled down to you.
It is good to see that the real estate industry is rapidly moving towards customer-ease and transparency. It now focuses more on quality than merely just tackling clients. With innovative interventions of Graana.com, Pakistan’s Smartest Property Portal, searching your favorite properties, consulting agile sales team and closing deals have become all time easy.
I know number of ideas could be added to this list; but if you want to keep some tips on your fingertips, I am sure this is your chapter. However, as I always say, hit me with some more ideas if you think I missed.