Opening a satellite office can be an essential first step for expanding your business and reaching new customers and talent. However, this can be a massive leap for a business and should be approached carefully in many cases.
A satellite office is typically established in a different geographical location than the primary office. The reasons why a company may choose to open a satellite office can differ significantly, ranging from expanding the customer base to supporting remote employees who are located far away from the main office. By providing workspace and in-person events closer to their area, satellite offices can offer a more convenient and accessible option for employees and customers. However, whether opening a satellite office is beneficial or detrimental to the business depends on the specific circumstances and goals of each company.
The following are the potential benefits of opening a satellite office:
- Expanded customer base: Opening an office in a new area may give the business better access to a new customer base and more opportunities to serve a new or expanding customer base better.
- Better customer service: A business can, more effectively, serve customers if it has offices closer to its customers. Satellite offices can offer customers a physical location to visit, provide a base of operations for more customer service personnel to be available, and prompt a better understanding of local communities through proximity and regular interactions.
- Reduced cost: Satellite offices can reduce the cost of rent or construction in the long term by offering a small, shared workspace where employees can use assets as necessary without requiring dedicated space. Furthermore, satellite offices can reduce costs by reducing or eliminating the potential need for employees to travel to the primary office for specific functions or appointments.
- Workspace: As mentioned, satellite offices can offer workplace space and other assets to nearby employees.
- Event and collaboration space: Satellite offices can be used to hold meetings or company events.
- Promotion of company culture: Promoting and maintaining company culture is often easier when a business has a physical space for people to meet and interact.
- Attraction of new talent: A satellite office can appeal to potential future employees by opening closer to their home area and offering local space and assets to help them succeed. Additionally, a company opening a satellite office may be opening new jobs and extending its services, further offering opportunities for new talent.
- Sustainable business: A small, shared space provided by a satellite office can reduce a business's carbon footprint in the long run by reducing materials and energy used to run an office daily and potentially those used to build the space.
- Public and professional appearances: An official physical address can feel more reputable and official to visitors than a phone call or online meeting. Therefore, the options for in-person meetings and transactions can encourage business partners and customers alike to see the business as a reputable and trustworthy entity.
To ensure that the benefits of opening a satellite office outweigh the drawbacks, it is essential to carefully plan this change and consult otters in your industry about what considerations and preparations must be made.
The following are the potential drawbacks of opening a satellite office:
- Upfront costs: Opening a satellite office requires a substantial upfront cost for construction, down payments, insurance, and office equipment.
- Operating costs: A new office will also prompt new operating costs, such as salaries for new employees, daily energy and materials usage, and building maintenance.
- Workflow adjustments: When a business opens a satellite office, workflow adjustments are necessary to accommodate new employees and services. Such a shift may come with many challenges, such as reimagining the roles of existing employees and how they will interact with the new office.
- Training gaps: Because new offices often prompt hiring and expansion of services, they also prompt a need for extensive training to onboard new hires and help existing employees understand their adjusted role. Such comprehensive training needs may result in training gaps as specific training needs are overlooked.
- Lack of direct oversight: Satellite offices may need more direction from executive management or the main office. A lack of leadership may further worsen training gaps, workflow issues, and collaboration efforts with the rest of the company.
It will be important to minimize these problems by providing substantial oversight and guidance for the new office, especially in its first year after opening.
Companies looking to open and operate a satellite office should do so carefully and strategically. It is vital that businesses clearly outline their goals for a new office and how it will serve those goals before the new office is opened, as well as set appropriate timelines and integrate the proper support systems to facilitate overall success.
The business must ensure that all deadlines are met for establishing, purchasing, and insuring the space. Furthermore, it will be essential to set hard deadlines for transporting office items needed for the space, including furniture and electronics.
In order to minimize costs related to mistakes and damage, employ white glove services, as such services are experienced with transportation and installation and offer greater attention to detail. Less professional services may damage or misplace items during transportation or installation. Such services are available regardless of how far you need to transport items, whether the new office is relatively nearby or an international move.
A business must maintain strong and consistent communication when planning to open a satellite office, during the preparations for the new office, and even following the opening of the new office. Physical distance can cause myriad communication issues, such as misunderstandings between teams, lack of prompt updates, and lack of oversight from executives and managers.
As such, it is crucial to create a strict policy and schedule for communication. If communication breaks down, it can quickly spiral out of control. As such, a business should develop clear parameters and stick to them. Communication can further be facilitated through regular meetings, the establishment of channels for communication, such as a dedicated direct messaging service, and regular audits of the new office's processes. It is vital to use secure communication services and adhere to cybersecurity procedures to prevent security breaches and leaks of information.
As mentioned, clear goals and parameters are essential to ensure that opening an office and its operations going forward go smoothly. Additionally, setting clear goals and expectations at the beginning of the process will allow the company to regularly revisit these goals and evaluate how any future decisions support those goals. By creating both short and long-term goals, the company can determine whether they are on the right track while retaining focus on the future desired outcomes.
Ideally, goals and parameters should be clear, specific, actionable, and measurable. For example, rather than something broad and vague like, "We want the officeto be set up by the end of the year" a better goal would be, "Computers should be installed by x date" and "Operations should begin on x date". Hard deadlines promote a greater sense of urgency and also can offer a clearer understanding of how well the company is following the schedule.
Training will likely be a serious consideration for a business that is planning on opening a satellite office. Training is often needed to onboard new employees, teach employees about the requirements of new roles, and help employees adjust to new expectations. In addition to traditional training, it will also be helpful to offer employees access to resources such as reading materials, webinars, and professional development opportunities, as these options can further fill any possible training gaps.
A significant reason that the business's short and long-term goals should be measurable is so that progress can be clearly documented and evaluated. It will be essential to monitor progress from conception onward. This will allow the business to determine whether processes are on schedule and how successful its efforts are. It also helps the business more quickly identify the source of issues, as the review team can determine which metrics are indicating a problem and investigate. A company can monitor progress in various ways, such as reviewing production output, conducting regular meetings, and offering customer feedback surveys.
Make Your Own Luck
All in all, opening a satellite office comes with both significant advantages and challenges. The potential benefits of expanding your customer base and providing better customer service may outweigh the cons. By preparing for potential challenges and continuously monitoring your progress, your business may benefit from growth via satellite offices.