When CEO Isaac Rau expanded his SEO agency Proactive SEO Solutions in 2012, he opted for space in a traditional office building. But as the company moved into the World Trade Center in Long Beach, California, Rau quickly discovered the drawbacks of his location.
“Just to get to the office, you’d have to drive several floors up in the parking structure, take the parking elevator to the lobby, then the lobby elevator to the office. That’s ten wasted minutes each way,” Rau says.
Beyond cutting into productive time, the World Trade Center offered few creature comforts. There were only two places to get lunch within the building, and the surrounding few blocks may have contained office parks, Long Beach City Hall, and the Long Beach Courthouse, but offered almost no dining options.
There were other inconveniences, such as the $125+ parking fee per month per vehicle. But mostly, Rau was concerned with the lack of fresh air and natural light in the office. “You felt sealed in,” he says. “You could go a whole day without stepping outside.” He soon began to consider a move to a different location.
Finding the Best Office Layout
Rau’s struggles are typical of small business owners. Every new business that gathers employees into a physical space must answer a few basic questions:
- How big should the space be, balancing affordability and my business’ physical needs?
- How important are various factors like easy access to healthy lunch spots, parking, and fresh air?
- Should my space be partitioned into smaller areas to promote focus and privacy, or left open to foster cooperation and social encounters?
- How does my physical space align with my business’ goals and company culture?
Tech startups, for example, are famous for leaving their workspaces open. Their philosophies are usually built on a collaborative culture where employees see and talk to each other all day, facilitating the rapid spread of new ideas.
But there is also an argument to be made for the traditional cubicle. Even though it seals employees off from each other, some employees thrive in their own private space. Some high-focus tasks, such as writing and coding, are often best done without the constant interruptions that an open workspace encourages.
The Move to 2nd Street in Belmont Shore
Several years after moving into the World Trade Center, Rau moved the company to Long Beach’s bustling 2nd Street Marketplace, right near the Orange County border, yet still within easy driving distance of Los Angeles, Beverly Hills and the Valley. All his complaints about the old location were addressed by the new one.
Now, Proactive SEO is located on the second floor of a much smaller office building. The office adjoins an open-air courtyard, ensuring that fresh air and sunlight is just a step away. Parking spots are provided within the building, with additional street parking nearby. And 2nd Street’s plethora of dining options make lunch breaks varied, fun and provide a relaxing 60 minutes of decompressing from the busy work day. Being two blocks from the Pacific Ocean provides additional benefits.
“You could go to a different lunch spot every day of the month,” says Ben Rios, web designer for Rau’s company. “There’s even time to walk to the beach and back!”
Inside the office, every square foot of space is used. Some employees work in their own rooms, where they can close the door if they need focus or they’re on a private call with a client. Others work in an open office plan where they can easily turn to each other and ask questions. A kitchen is available if employees want to stay in for lunch, plus a conference room for team meetings.
Rau acknowledges that some businesses function well in traditional office buildings, but he feels his company has thrived in the new location. “Ultimately, each business should find its own way,” Rau concludes. “Business owners should use their office space however they feel is best for their goals and their employees.”