Since the original COVID-19 lockdowns, many not-for-profits have allowed their staffers to work from home — or work a hybrid schedule that puts them onsite only part time. This can leave a lot of office space unused. Depending on your nonprofit’s current lease, it may be more cost-effective to downsize or seriously consider other options.
As many organizations learned during the pandemic, when equipped with reliable Wi-Fi, quality devices and necessary software, employees in a variety of roles can perform their jobs from home. If many of your employees are working at least part-time from home, a smaller office space could be to your advantage.
A move to a more desirable location, might make sense. Consider where your clients, staffers and volunteers live. Do those who spend time in your office have long commutes? Does your current space offer the amenities you need and want? Is it cheaper to relocate to a less expensive building or geographic area? In many regions, high vacancy rates are driving down commercial rents, and you may now be able to afford a better space — particularly if you’re looking for an office with a smaller footprint.
But you may wonder how downsizing would affect productivity if all or most of your employees and volunteers ever need to use the office at the same time. For example, a natural disaster could lead to a sudden surge in demand for your nonprofit’s services. Even if a surge is a possibility, it’s a good idea to at least look at how your organization is using the space it leases and how it might use it better.
Renegotiate your current lease
One of your best opportunities in today’s environment may be to strike a better deal with your current building’s owner. Read your lease carefully and find out whether any of the owner’s other tenants have successfully negotiated better lease terms. Also check out the occupancy rate for similar properties in your area to get a feel for how eager the owner might be to keep you as a tenant.
If property owners in your area are struggling to keep tenants, consider requesting an amended lease with a reduced rent and no strings attached. Or you might agree to extend your lease, but with reduced rent. Another option is to pay the contracted rent if the owner agrees to foot some or all of the bill for improvements to the space. Finally, the owner may allow you to sublease some of your space (if this isn’t already an option).
Leasing office (or other facility) space is likely one of the biggest line items in your nonprofit’s budget. Now is a great time to see if you can reduce this expense, or at least get more for your money. Contact us for help finding other rental cost efficiencies.