Congratulations! Your idea has legs after all and you can finally move it out of your dad’s basement and into your very own office space in EC3.
On the other hand, maybe you’re streamlining your operation ahead of a downturn in the economy and you’re looking for smaller premises that offer better value for money. Whatever your circumstances, you’re at the point at which you need to find a new office and if you’re time and/or cash-poor, serviced offices might be ideal.
What’s great about serviced offices?
Serviced offices are ideal for fledgling businesses and start-ups, as well as established microbusinesses. Often these enterprises don’t want to risk the commitment of a long-term lease – most serviced offices have short notice periods. Additionally, they are, as the name suggests, serviced. If you’re a small business, cleaning, refilling the coffee machine, and buying paper and ink just takes up too much time.
The beauty of serviced offices is that their fees usually include the rental, the cost of the phone system, the furniture, the broadband, meeting rooms, business rates, receptionists, buildings insurance and a kitchen and bathroom – with a cleaning team!
Serviced offices are sometimes referred to as flexible office spaces or as business centres. Your company will share the space and the facilities with other freelancers or companies and you can even let your team hot-desk.
Features you should look for
One of the good things about serviced or short-term offices is the high turnover. This turnover isn’t because companies are unhappy, it’s because they might only need space temporarily, or because they quickly move on to more permanent, larger premises.
It won’t, therefore, take you long to find somewhere and you will be able to move in pretty much immediately. Everything – phones, internet and so on – will already be set up for you and you should be able to expand or contract as your fortunes and needs change. There shouldn’t be a complicated lease, either; aim for a minimum notice period – a week to a month – just in case you need to return to that basement!
You should also look for extra facilities like meeting and conference rooms, with audio-visual equipment.
A fixed monthly rent is useful to a start-up, as it’s predictable – no surprise bills.
How do you find this perfect space?
Think about how much space you need, as well as which locations are best for all your staff. Make a shortlist of preferred locations – think about transport links, shops, cafes and so forth.
Will clients visit you? If not, the external and internal appearance might not matter that much, as long as you can live with it. If you’re expecting to host customers, find the most attractive place you can afford.
Does the facility let you scale up or down according to your cashflow and needs? If you have busy seasons, or you’re cautious, you’ll need to rent an extra room or move into a smaller suite with hardly any notice.
Ask if there are any hidden charges or service fees, apart from the use of meeting rooms. These can add up over time and are best avoided.
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