If you’ve ever had to search for office space before, you know it’s a long and exciting process. While touring offices and imagining the possibilities can be thrilling, carefully considering all of the factors such as location, amenities, lease flexibility, and price is... well, not so much. But one critical factor that can impact your business is your office’s tech infrastructure. As more and more sectors are moving their entire product offerings – and workforces – to cloud- or web-based frameworks, the ability to get and stay connected is more important than ever. With your business and your employees reliant on the internet, every company should be careful and strategic about where they call home. If you find yourself on the hunt for office space, here are 7 key telecom and IT questions to ask when looking for new workspace:
1. What are my telecom needs?
Before packing a single box, make sure you’ve clearly defined your business’ tech needs. Leverage a trusted IT advisor, whether it’s your CTO, head of IT, or an outside telecom consultant to help you determine your company’s critical connectivity requirements. For example, a high-frequency trading desk or tech startup will have very different IT needs than an art studio. If the internet is your business’s lifeblood, you should be able to clearly communicate your speed, reliability, and security requirements to your landlord or broker so that they can best assess if a building has the tech infrastructure to support your growing business.
2. Which telecom providers and carriers are currently in the building?
Ask your broker or landlord what companies serve their building. These can range from big telecom companies, cable companies, independent fiber providers, to Competitive Local Exchange Carriers (known as CLECs), that lease telecom lines from large telecom companies and resell them. It’s a good idea to look for buildings with a large number and wide range of providers because this creates competition between them – which means better pricing and services for you. And knowing the full range of options in the building will help you determine which is the perfect provider and plan for your company.
3. What services do these providers and carriers offer?
Although a large providers like Level3 or Verizon might have connectivity to the building, because of the building’s infrastructure, the providers might not be able to offer their full range of services, which could limit your connectivity and therefore limit your business. If your company lives and breathes the internet, 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 because fiber is the latest technology available, this is a good indicator of how much your building values it’s tech infrastructure and how well the building can support your business connectivity needs.
4. 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 nowhere near your office (or even way down in the building’s basement!). It might be that because the previous tenant used other services, fiber cables may not be connected to your office. In this scenario, to build-out your internet connections you would need to plan for extra construction, extra costs and extra time in your move-in - which results in extra headaches. To avoid delays and get your business up and running in your new space 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 hassle in an already long and expensive process.
5. What's the experience of other tenants in the building?
When you’re moving into a building, you’re moving into a community of tenants that are welcoming and happy to meet and share insights with new tenants. It’s a great idea to reach out to and speak with other tenants in the building to ask about their experiences in the building, and even see if they have had any problems or recommendations on the internet providers in the building. This way you can benefit from their wisdom and experience, and avoid their pitfalls, all while getting to know your future neighbors. A win-win!
6. 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 you’re business requires internet services like fiber that your building doesn’t currently offer, some landlords may be willing to work with your preferred internet provider to build fiber to the building. Ask your broker or landlord if the building is open to bringing in new providers to meet your needs. This is also a good piece of information to keep in your tool belt in your negotiations: Don’t be afraid to ask 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.
7. Is the building Wired Certified?
Even when armed with these key questions, a savvy broker, a transparent landlord and a knowledgeable IT consultant, it can very oftentimes still be difficult to get accurate and detailed IT and telecom information on office buildings. One way to streamline the process is to ask your landlord or broker if the building you’re considering is Wired Certified. And if you know the building isn’t Wired Certified, ask your landlord to get 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 with inaccurate or outdated information. And Wired Certified buildings are best-in-class in connectivity so you can rest assured that the building can support your internet-driven business. Another resource that’s available to you is on wiredscore.com. WiredScore manages a public database that provides up-to-date detailed connectivity data on hundreds of commercial office buildings nationally. With detailed information on both Wired Certified and non-certified buildings, and ratings to help see how the buildings stack up against each other, the WiredScore database is a tool to help guide better informed leasing decisions and help your business thrive in it’s new office.