Searching for a new office, industrial or lab space is always a challenge, but the current business climate has introduced a host of circumstances that can make the process even more daunting. While the fundamentals like hidden expenses still apply, these Covid-era considerations should be given equal weight when making the all-important decision of where to locate.

  1. Flexibility—Now, more than ever, tenants must have the flexibility to adapt quickly and efficiently to external factors that can dramatically impact their bottom lines. Tenants should ensure that their lease contains expansion and contraction clauses so they can scale their space up or down based on changing market forces. Tenants also should consider including sub-letting or early exit clauses in their leases. The ability of a tenant to negotiate for these points within a lease will greatly depend on the market conditions within their desired location. An experienced tenant broker will be able to provide market insight and assist businesses with these negotiations, which prospective landlords will be likely to resist.
  1. Accessibility—While employees have always considered commutes in their employment decisions, the convenience and cost of getting to and from work is now at the top of many workers’ lists when deciding to take, or remain at, a job. Record-high gas prices are one driving factor, though the time spent commuting is equally important to some employees as they prepare to leave the comforts of working from home. Tenants should carefully consider the ease and expense employees will incur traveling to and from a new location, even if it’s only a few days a week. This may mean contracting space in historically “less-cool” suburban areas, which are closer to employees’ homes, or adding a suburban satellite location as an option to a downtown anchor space.
  1. Safety—Employees returning to work in 2022 may have new questions and expectations about the cleanliness of the space they’ll be sharing with others and the quality of the air being circulated. Tenants should consider incorporating provisions in their lease agreements outlining cleaning and sanitization specifications, not only for their own area, but also for common spaces, such as elevators, used by neighboring tenants. Businesses may even want to consider moving to a location where they are the sole tenant or where they will have a dedicated entrance to their space, giving them greater control over the health and safety protocols being practiced in the workplace.
  1. Quality—After spending the last two years working from the dining room table, some employees are eager to return to the camaraderie and connection of an in-person office experience; however, others are resisting the call to return to work. Employers are addressing this issue by offering an array of built-in amenities, from outdoor space to on-site cafes and fitness options for mid-day breaks. Although some work environments can easily be retrofitted to add such perks, other businesses will need to move to a new location to achieve the quality of space that will help attract and retain employees in a tight labor market. Tenants searching for office space, industrial space or lab space to rent should adopt a quality over quantity mindset to provide the premium return to work environment that many employees will expect.
  1. Timing—Under normal circumstances, businesses should allow roughly six to 12 months to secure new space, depending on the square footage needed. The extraordinary market conditions in 2022 could lengthen that timeline considerably, however. Tenants that need to acquire permits or licenses should account for delays as local and state governments are still recovering from a pandemic-fueled backlog of requests. Similarly, tenants that are planning improvements to their space to accommodate a new hybrid workforce should factor in extra time for the work to be completed. Build-outs can be postponed substantially by a range of frustrating factors, including lingering labor shortages, unpredictable pandemic spikes and prolonged supply chain holdups.
  1. Reliability—A strong landlord-tenant relationship is essential in a world where the unexpected seems to have become the expected. Tenants need a landlord that is responsive, reliable and reasonable—someone who will work with them to navigate uncertain economic times. Unlike a landlord broker, whose allegiances lie with the building owner, a tenant broker will conduct a thorough assessment of a potential landlord, analyzing their financial stability, existing tenant satisfaction and overall reputation in the marketplace to ensure their client is in good hands, regardless of the circumstances that may arise.

Whether you’re right-sizing to accommodate a hybrid work schedule, upgrading to entice employees to return to work or undergoing a much-needed expansion, The Stevens Group will leverage our decades of expertise exclusively representing tenants to ensure your company secures the ideal space at preferred terms in the greater Boston area.