Time flies when you’re having fun, and our 3-year office lease at 1008 Homer Street in Vancouver was up at the end of December. While we could have chosen to stay (with a 10% rent increase), we took the opportunity to look around to see if there was other space that would better meet our future needs.
We knew we wanted to stay downtown Vancouver, as it’s central for staff, and transit options into downtown are excellent. We did, however, take the opportunity to look at a few different neighborhoods within downtown. Ultimately though, the financial district seemed a little too stuffy for us, and the area around Victory Square was just a bit too sketchy – we plan to stay open even later in the future, and really didn’t want any staff safety concerns. Long story short, we ended up moving just a couple blocks up Homer from our old location to Homer at Robson.
We ended up actually paying a bit more than we would have if we stayed at our old location, but the following factors tipped the scale in favor of moving:
- Modern concrete construction: Our old office was a turn of the century converted warehouse. While it had character, our ceiling was literally the floor of the tenants above, and boy could it get rowdy up there! Hard to seem professional when callers can hear loud music in the background. (This music and other noise was actually coming from the tenants above us). Our new office is like a bank vault, no noise transference issues here!
- Nice common areas and no waits for the bathrooms: At our old location, our actual office was pretty nice, but the common areas were dingy and old. We do get some walk-ins, and we always wondered how many people got to our old building, but then turned around when they got to the front door. 😉 Our new building is brand new, and all the common areas are really nice. There was also a distinct shortage of bathrooms in our old building. I’ve yet to actually encounter anyone during a trip to the bathroom here. 😉
- Bright space with access to natural light for all staff: While our old office did have 2 exterior walls, the windows were mainly just along one wall, and because of the layout, none of the agents actually had a window view. Our new office has windows along two sides, extending to the 11’ ceilings, bringing in lots of natural light. We had the ceiling painted out white, as well as most of the walls, and plenty of high-quality light fixtures were installed, to brighten up those dark rainy Vancouver winter days.
- Better layout:Our original office was already built out, and the layout worked well based on our original staffing needs. Recently we’ve been on a hiring spree, trying to keep up with inbound call volumes. That means that the majority of our staff are now licensed insurance agents, yet in the old office our “call center” comprised only around one-third of our overall office space. Our new office was actually just a concrete shell when we signed the lease, so we were able to build it out to our exact needs. We’ve now got a proper reception area, kitchen with seating, offices for Daniel, Chris and I, and the rest of the space (comprising around two-thirds of the overall space) is open. The sales team can now all be together, without feeling crammed into a small space.
We actually signed the lease for the new office back in September, but since it was just a concrete shell at the time, it took a couple months to get built out. Daniel took the lead, working with their designer to figure out the layout, colours and materials. We think it turned out great, and are really happy to call it home (at least for the next 5 years). Our only fear? Since signing the lease in September, our growth rate has really cranked up, so if we keep hiring at our current pace we’re actually going to run out of space soon!
Anyways, consider this your invitation to stop by and say hi! Since we deal with most of our customers over the phone, we’d love the opportunity to see more of you face to face!