In an age when it’s never been more important to differentiate a business from its competitors, it can be all too easy for entrepreneurs and new and growing businesses to become fixated on acquiring the sole lease to a flashy office in the heart of the trendiest part of town.
Instead of splashing out on a lavish frontage and focusing on the kudos of owning a highly sought-after commercial property, the most successful start-up owners are often the ones who find a happy medium between image and practicality.
For new businesses in London, for example, it can be a genuine challenge just to get a foothold on the ladder within their respective sectors, simply due to expensive lease rates within the capital and the general demand for commercial property in London.
So what are the main factors growing businesses should consider when selecting office space to move into?
Before you sign on the dotted line for a commercial property lease it’s wise to research the community around your premises’ location. Note the success rate of businesses nearby and pick the brains of fellow business owners to get their thoughts on the area.
Admittedly this is less important for digital/online firms, but retail and service-orientated businesses may wish to conduct some competitor analysis. If there’s a chance to secure attractive office space that provides a competitive edge, this can be the tipping point in an almost-saturated market.
Be aware that you may not be able to use all of the floor space on offer to you. Most floor plans include toilet and kitchen space in the total space available. For instance, if an agent informs you of an office with 6,000 sq ft of floor space, you are unlikely to have the full amount to play with – something to bear in mind if you have a growing workforce.
Also consider the actual shape of the floor plate. This is integral because it influences the number of desks you can fit into each room or floor. An odd-shaped floor plan will almost certainly increase the overall cost per employee per square foot.
If you’re searching for your first office space, you may be unaware that you’ll have to pay business rates. These are usually separate to rent and are payable directly to the local council as contributions to local authority services. The fee is usually between £3 and £10 per sq ft each year.
With firms keen to keep their overheads low, energy efficiency has become a buzzword in many entrepreneurial quarters. Following the 2011 Energy Act, landlords increasingly have to adapt premises with energy-saving lighting, insulation, double-glazing and much more. These features are a great opportunity to implement sustainable operations, save money and reduce energy usage simultaneously.
Written by Philip Hodgkinson, manager of Club Workspace, a fast-growing network of creative co-working business clubs in London.
If you are a home-based start up looking to move into your first commercial property, renting a desk in a shared office can be a great workspace solution.
The amount of spare desks available for rental has been steadily growing over recent years and they are an increasingly popular office option. These are just some of the ways that life in a shared office could bring the best out of your enterprise.
More flexible contract
Shared office space is often available immediately and there is little of the potentially complicated legal process inherent when taking out a traditional office lease. This means you can get in straight away and start enjoying life in a buzzing office environment.
Furthermore, contracts are often rolling month-to-month affairs and this is where a shared office could really help you bring the most out of your business’ potential. If you feel the need to move or expand to meet the requirements of a fast-moving market, you are not tied to a location long-term. This could allow you to move wherever the market takes you.
Enjoy the buzz of office life
Another good reason to consider life in a shared office is you can make brilliant business contacts and fantastic friends. You may also find that being in an energising workplace can motivate you to work better. You might even have the skills your hosts require and working for them could provide a welcome additional revenue stream.
Increase your focus
If you find that the buzz of an office is a little too “buzzy”, the great advantage of flexible contracts is you can find yourself another, quieter workplace where you can better concentrate on driving your business forwards.
This is an important factor in your office search, because one of the great benefits of escaping the many potential distractions of the home-working environment by renting a desk is that it could do wonders for your focus. You can enjoy the many potential advantages of having a clear definition between work and home and even your commute could become a valuable time when you can get in the right mindset for work.
Additionally, in a shared office the services you access, such as broadband and security, are often included in one monthly fee. You can enjoy the many benefits of office life without having to spend valuable time managing the things that are often necessary when renting workspace in the traditional way.
This makes shared offices a great option at a time when you need to focus all your energy on your new business and really work towards bringing the most out of its potential.
Hang on a second
Shared offices are often great workplace solutions, but of course there are downsides. You will probably have very little control, both over your office environment and your workmates. So, if you like to use specific services, particularly for things like security, then a shared office may not be for you. However the beauty of such flexible contracts is that they still could be worth trying out.
Peter Ames writes on behalf of Office Genie, marketplace for office and desk space.