Procurement · 13 October 2015

Demand for co-working space to rise as small firms look for networking opportunities

Some 71 percent of small business owners predict that finding a flexible co-working space will be a priority for them in the short and medium term
Some 71 percent of small business owners predict that finding a flexible co-working space will be a priority for them in the short and medium term

The UK’s small businesses are on the hunt for flexible co-working space – nearly three-quarters said it will be a priority for them in the near future.

According to QualitySolicitors’ study of 250 decision makers at small firms, some 42 per cent feel a flexible and adaptable space for their business to grow is important, while 18 per cent said it was important to be able to interact and collaborate on ideas with other companies in their premises.

The networking side of things was also a draw, with 39 per cent saying a place having opportunities to mix with other firms factored into their decision on whether to use a workplace or not.

Michael Sandys, commercial property conveyancing expert at QualitySolicitors, said: “It’s clear from this research that the traditional one-size-fits-all approach to commercial property conveyancing is no longer valid.”

He added it was clear that small firms now want “a different kind of workspace”, with flexible space and the chance to network with other businesses in the area. This is particularly useful for early-stage businesses looking to get off the ground, as finding the right contacts can open all kinds of doors.

The issue of rent has been a long-running issue for small firms, particularly in and around the capital, and over half of those surveyed said it was crucial to find flexible, short-term lets when negotiating their lease. Some 53 per cent also said they would demand a break clause to prevent them from being tied down if the space no longer suits their firm.

Almost 50 per cent admitted they had been put off or stopped looking for a new workplace entirely after they realised the cost and time taken to move involved, while 30 per cent pointed to finding the right kind of space and location as being the most difficult aspect for them.

Sandys said that small firms now want more from their working space too – aiming to “boost efficiencies and maximise the space”.

At the early stages of a business, there’s still much uncertainty in the way of potential growth and diversification, and Sandys pointed out small firms “don’t want to be tied down, so we’re seeing more and more businesses demanding shorter leases to give them the freedom to move around if they need to”.

What are the deciding factors for small firms negotiating a lease?

(1) Repair works covered by landlord

(2) Right to renew the lease when it comes to an end

(3) Cost of shared services and facilities

(4) Flexible, short-term let

(5) Break clause

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Rebecca is a reporter for Business Advice. Prior to this, she worked with a range of tech, advertising, media and digital clients at Propeller PR and did freelance work for The Telegraph.

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