Subject to minimum acceptable standards, I am often asked whether the quality of an office matters in terms of attracting business.
Before we answer this question, there are some important basic requirements of an office.
Location – Try to locate in a business area and do not be lured by lower priced offices in residential areas (be it that for the latter location, parking is more available).
Parking – Most important, to have available parking for the staff and visitors. The planning requirement is one parking spot for every 60 sqm of covered area, which is hardly enough space for visitors.
Assuming an office size of 150 sqm, the required parking spaces by the regulations are only 3 – a space which can accommodate around 10 people with most of them requiring at least one space per person or, at best, one parking spot for every 2, or in this case 5 spots + visitors.
For this reason, check if there is available parking nearby to rent.
Going up to the office from the entrance area, make sure that the entrance is spacious, clean, and tidy, whereas, if possible, have a spacious lift and, even better, a double lift so that the waiting time is reduced (depending on the number of floors).
Signage is important at the entrance lobby of the building, as well as outside the office door.
Ensure the office has all modern facilities such as air conditioning (VRV preferable), split units, fan coils on the ceiling, false ceiling, hidden lighting, structural cabling, raised floors, burglar alarm, and smoke detector system.
Toilets must have men and women separately; two for every 10 persons is the norm.
Depending on the nature of your work, you must have a meeting room or a couple of smaller free offices for private meetings.
Open-plan offices are not the best, and it causes problems, but it saves space, hence the meeting rooms.
Offices of grade A quality (i.e. with most of the above requirements met) have a rental level of €13-16/sqm (Nicosia), and for Limassol €18-25/sqm, whereas Larnaca is reduced to €10/sqm – all, plus common expenses.
Security (person), especially after hours, is preferable but not easily found, whereas the cost should be considered. Alarm systems are a must.
Furniture and equipment are another subject without a big budget.
Office desks of good quality based on Italian designs, but locally produced, are around €1,000/each and chairs around €500/each.
Ikea and others have many lower-cost options.
Paperless offices are increasing in demand, but these require the extra use of private computers and a person to look after the operation (it saves space with limited filing, on the other hand).
For those who require storage in excess of 20 sqm, opt to hire storage nearby since using office rent for storage is expensive, whereas storage space in separate buildings does not exceed 20% of the prevailing office rents.
Try to secure your office at one level since two or more levels require added facilities, and an internal staircase is not preferred.
Finding Cyprus office suites in excess of 400 sqm on one floor is a rarity. The usual office area is around 150 sqm.
In summary, for office space of around 150 sqm, you should budget for rent (depending on the quality/facilities) plus another €25,000-30,000 for modern equipment (offices, chairs, reception, decoration).
If you are renting and unless it is a long-term lease, the landlords are unwilling to provide furniture since second-hand ones have a value of less than 30% of their replacement cost.
Does then a “posh” office building make a good impression for your clients to pay?
It depends on the nature of your business.
For those who deal with foreign clients, it pays to be so, and not so much regarding locals (who have the attitude that “for this office to have such an expensive setup, it must charge a lot”).
By Antonis Loizou F.R.I.C.S. – Antonis Loizou & Associates EPE – Property Valuers, Property Consultants & Estate Agents