Peter Ames is Head of Strategy at OfficeGenie.co.uk, a desk and office rental portal.
There’s nothing like moving your business into its first office. Office life can do wonders for productivity and having a space to call your own is a step towards really establishing your business as a force to be reckoned with. Peter Ames, from office experts OfficeGenie.co.uk, looks at how to go about finding your venture a great new home:
Get an agent (or don’t)
One of the first considerations you have to make, if you’re renting office space in the traditional fashion, is whether or not to enlist the help of an agent. You might be put off by their fees (generally an additional 10% on top of the first year’s rent) but they can bring a wealth of market knowledge and negotiating prowess.
There really is no right or wrong answer. Speaking from experience at Genie, we’ve generally found agents to be more than worth the money; particularly if things don’t go well first time, a knowledgeable, guiding presence can be invaluable.
Get to grips with your budget (and location)
Budget and location considerations tend to come hand-in-hand: The general rule is the further away from major centres of business, the cheaper property will be. But of course it’s not quite as simple as this.
Out of town property can thus seem appealing, but here you must consider things such as employee happiness. Is a remote location, devoid of appealing lunchtime haunts and easy access going to affect employee motivation? Choosing where to locate your office requires more than exclusively financial considerations.
Once you’ve found your office, this is often when the waiting game begins: Generally this will come in the form of financial negotiations with the landlord’s party, and a potentially lengthy contractual engagement between solicitors.
Negotiations can, on occasion, break down so you might want to look at some temporary options (more on this sort of thing momentarily). These also might be handy in general – if the legal side of things really starts to drag on. Just make sure you’re prepared when it comes to this phase.
Get everyone involved
As we’ve mentioned – the process of renting an office space can be a lengthy one, so quite often it can be a case of many hands make light work. Try to get people involved in things such as viewings, or even keeping on top of the negotiation process. This can be a great way to make any staff you have feel more engaged.
Looking forward to when you get the space, a similar thing is true: We’ve always had staff help design and decorate offices, which really gets everyone involved!
Consider the alternatives:
More than any other type of business, a traditional long-term rental may in fact not be suitable for a startup. The inflexible nature of such a commitment rarely dovetails nicely with the unpredictable world of a growing business, so it can really pay to consider some of the alternatives:
Serviced offices can be a brilliant option for small businesses: These are purpose-built business centres where, generally, every aspect of office management is taken care of for you: Everything from call handling to furnishing and cleaning comes included in your monthly fee. This means you can focus on managing your business.
All this can come at a premium though. Serviced offices, on a per-desk basis, are often the most expensive means of renting office space. However, you can’t really put a price on your time, and when your business is its early stages – it will generally demand your full focus. There’s a lot to be said about serviced offices so if they do sound interesting, you can read more in Office Genie’s guide to serviced office space.
Renting out desks in another company’s office can be a great way to get your business on the (commercial) property ladder. Much like serviced offices, you should get some services and utilities included in your monthly rental fee, while the contract terms should also be suitably flexible.
One downside is the lower service level (these won’t be spaces dedicated to your convenience – your host’s priority will general be their own business). You also need to make sure you don’t end up sharing with a competitor, and generally you’re happy sending data on a shared network. But shared offices can be a brilliant option for a startup and if they have intrigued you we also have a guide to shared offices on Office Genie.
Co-working centres, popular in London but on the rise UK-wide, form a middle ground between the two above options; These are purpose-built, often open-plan spaces designed to rent out deskspace to businesses who, again, want flexible low-maintenance space.
Again it is a shared space; so do be mindful if you think this might come with security and/or privacy issues. Similarly, viewing is essential to ensure the atmosphere is right for you – the vibe in co-working spaces can often be a lively one, which doesn’t work for everyone.
Of course these aren’t all your options. Incubator and accelerator spaces, where your business is provided with all manner of support, are also incredibly valuable to startups. Whatever you do though, consider your alternatives, alongside the other points mentioned above, and you should be well on the way to a brilliant new home for your business.