There comes a time for most successful businesses when it becomes necessary to grow the team. For many companies, that means setting up an office in a new city, state, or country. Expansion comes with many benefits but also some challenges.
The more planning and consideration that goes into setting up a satellite office, the fewer growing pains your business and employees—both old and new—will suffer. Here’s what you need to think about before you make the big move.
What is a satellite office?
A satellite office is an office that’s not an organization’s main office. It can be located in a different area of the same city, or in a different country altogether, from the main office. It can be a single desk or a space with desks for hundreds of workers.
Satellite offices can accommodate the trend toward having a hybrid workplace model. They can help employees cut down on commutes, and since there are more places for them to go, they can lower the number of workers in any one office.
Location is essential when choosing a satellite office
Choosing the right area for your satellite office is the most important decision you’ll make. To do this well, you’ll need to consider your overall goals for establishing a new office while collecting information about the cities and neighborhoods you’re considering.
- Tapping the local talent pool. If your goal is to hire employees with a certain set of skills, think beyond the downtown area of the city. Where do your potential hires live? Offering them a shorter commute gives you a recruitment edge.
Here are some examples of how your goals for the office can be affected by location:
- Expanding to a new market. Choose a location where there is minimal competition, and hire people who know the local market inside and out.
- Networking with industry influencers. Does your industry have a hub, like Silicon Valley? Opening a satellite office in a cluster helps pave the way for partnerships, financial incentives, and even acquisition opportunities.
Employees want a safe office location that’s easy to get to and close to amenities, and businesses want good hires, sales growth, and the right partners. When a location checks all of those boxes, you’ll know it’s the right one for your company.
Don’t forget about employee engagement
Google recently surveyed its distributed workforce on their biggest challenges, and found that what they struggled most with was connection. They highlighted three areas they needed to address: getting connected (logistics like booking space for meetings and syncing up time zones), being connected (technology that works for everyone), and feeling connected (getting to know one another and building trust).
In order to maintain a company culture across multiple offices, distributed teams need to be fully connected. Ensuring that new hires have technology that allows them to collaborate effectively is essential in making them feel like they are truly part of a team; for example, videoconferencing can foster relationships in a way that voice calls alone cannot. The space itself, too, has a big impact on connection, so make sure to incorporate employee engagement needs into your design.
Look for flexible office options
Business growth isn’t a one-and-done proposition. Hopefully, you will continue to grow beyond your initial expansion, and either grow your satellite office’s team or set up a new one somewhere else. Don’t just think about your current needs when moving into a new space—think about where you want to be in six months, a year, and beyond.
According to research conducted by Coworking Resources, 26.2 percent of coworking spaces are business expansions. If you aren’t sure what your future space needs will be, consider a month-to-month arrangement instead of a standard lease. Explore options for expanding your current space in the future, or utilizing other offices or floors in the same building, before you commit to a location.
Be sure to calculate the true costs
When setting up a satellite office, there are several budget considerations that must be accounted for. The monthly cost of the space is obviously an important factor, but there are also items like furniture, office amenities, and technology infrastructure that need to be considered.
There are also location costs to consider. A city center will obviously be more expensive than a suburb, but if that location brings you quality talent and more customers, it might be worth the trade-off.
And remember: Time is also money. The more time you spend on decisions like choosing a location, buying or renting office furniture, and hiring consultants to build out servers, the less time you have to spend on your business. Consider turnkey office spaces or consultants who are local to the area you’re moving into to cut down on your workload.
Look at how your employees work
When setting up your satellite office, it’s important to align it with how your employees will use it. If it’s a dedicated sales office, for example, your reps may spend the vast majority of their time traveling to meet with clients. In that case, having a dedicated office or even a dedicated desk for each salesperson may not be necessary.
Make sure your staff has adequate meeting and desk space, and that they have easy access to it during the hours when they’ll actually be working. And it’s important to be flexible. They will discover what their team needs to be successful over time, and that will likely look different than your initial setup.
Understand legal and financial issues
Different municipalities have different rules about how businesses operate. Make sure that you understand your responsibilities as a business owner in the area where you set up your satellite office.
If possible, consider hiring local accountants and attorneys to ensure that your company is compliant with labor laws, taxes, and other location-specific regulations. This may be only necessary in the initial stages of procuring your office space, or, if you’re setting up somewhere with complicated rules, a permanent hire may be your best bet.
Expanding to a satellite office comes with challenges, but they aren’t insurmountable. A little planning goes a long way toward growing your team, your footprint, and, ultimately, your business.Are you thinking about setting up a satellite office? Explore WeWork’s flexible, cost-effective solutions to make your expansion a smooth one.
This article was originally published on March 11, 2021, and has been updated throughout by the editors.
WeWork offers companies of all sizes space solutions that help solve their biggest business challenges.
Jessica Hulett is a freelance writer, editor, and content marketing specialist based in Ossining, NY. She has previously written for Cosmopolitan, Real Simple, DealNews, and more.