Procurement · 16 July 2015

How to find your first office space

Co-working has become a popular option 

The chances are that your business venture was started from the comfort of your own home. More than eight out of ten business owners in the UK run their enterprises from where they live, according to a report by Lloyds Bank Insurance.

But whilst working from home significantly reduces overheads and sending emails from the sofa in your onesie certainly has its charms, most small businesses need to fly the nest at some point. So what type of office do you want to fly to?

Traditional leased

Let’s begin with the most old school (and least flexible) option. A traditional office rental involves leasing the space from a commercial landlord. These generally require you to sign up for a period of between three and 20 years. They can be fairly complicated transactions and require advice from agents and lawyers to negotiate a deal. As a result, you should only really take on a conventional lease if you know you’re going to be there for a while and not change too much in size.

Whilst the rent is likely to be less than the all-inclusive costs of a serviced office space (more on this later), the responsibility lies with you to kit the place out, and pay all the bills, meaning substantial initial startup costs. On the plus side however, this responsibility comes with a greater control over the space and a freedom to make it your own.

Ideal for: Companies that aren’t planning on moving or growing in the near future, which can afford the upfront costs and want free reign over their space.

Not ideal for: Companies planning on expanding, or don’t want to commit to a specific location, and those which can’t part with hefty startup costs.

Serviced office space

These are much more flexible, fully equipped offices which are run by a management company. Serviced offices offer relatively flexible and simple rental contracts (rather than a lease), with the added advantage of having all essential amenities in place, such as phone lines, internet connections, and often furniture.

Rents for serviced office space are typically more expensive than a leased space, as people are willing to fork out a premium to have all services taken care of. Rental contracts vary, but typically you won’t be locked in for longer than a year.

Ideal for: Time-strapped startups, wanting to move in somewhere quickly and easily; companies which foresee growth in the near future; and companies which don’t want to share space.

Not ideal for: Cash-strapped startups; those who want other people and companies around them; or those who want to make their mark on their space.

Make sure you check out all available options before coming to a decision

Shared office space

These tend to be in all-inclusive environments, so you can enjoy access to kitchens, facilities, and meeting rooms, but the costs are cut considerably by sharing your office with another company. You will generally have your own fixed desk where you leave your stuff overnight.

Desks are generally rented out within an open plan office, where small companies can sit with their own team, without being secluded within four walls. Shared office environments can become great networks for micro businesses, either through collaborative projects or referrals that might ensue – or simply for going for drinks after work with like-minded, entrepreneurial people.

Ideal for: Companies looking to cut the costs of serviced office space or firms wanting to reap the benefits of joining a start-up community.

Not ideal for: Teams that tend to work remotely and only want a desk for a day or two a week, or teams that value their privacy.

Co-working

The concept of co-working can cause confusion, but what this typically means is a shared office or hot-desking space. Again, this gives you access to communal access to desks, breakout areas, kitchen and meeting facilities, but this style of working may be a bit like musical chairs – you don’t have a set work station to call your own, and you can’t leave your things there over night.

You can rent space for as long as you want, and you pay normally on a monthly membership basis.

Ideal for: Individuals, or small teams of around four or fewer members who tend to work remotely or flexibly, but are tired of working from home or a coffee shop, and crave human interaction.

Not ideal for: Companies of four or more people, which need to leave stuff overnight, need silence to work, and want a fixed abode.

In sum, the start-up revolution has meant an explosion of new, flexible forms of office space. They’re designed for small teams on a tight budget, allowing you to tailor your office to the needs of your business. Factors like picking the right location, cost and amount of space are important but what is key is what kind of space you need. Getting all those aligned will help make your move from kitchen table to office space, a smooth one.

Image: Impact Hub

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ABOUT THE EXPERT

Peter Ames is the head of strategy for Office Genie, the first desk space marketplace in the UK – under the umbrella of Genie Ventures (a digital marketing and e-commerce company). The site is responsible for letting out millions of pounds worth of space to the country's small businesses and freelancers.

Procurement