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How to find a serviced office to suit your business

September 29, 2016

If your new business needs staff straight away, then you may find choosing the right office space difficult. In this guide, we look at the benefits a serviced office could provide and give some tips on things to watch out for when you’re trying to find an office.

When you’re a start-up, you could base your business from home. But you have the disadvantage of other people tramping in and out of your house each day. And when you go on holiday there will be other people still turning up at your home to work!

The other alternative is to rent office space. Not only is that expensive; you may find your fledgling business committing itself to a long lease.

When you’re at the start of something and you don’t know how it’s going to pan out, that’s guaranteed to give you a few sleepless nights.

In-between these two options is a serviced office. These are available all around the UK now and are a fantastic way for small and new businesses to get good premises quickly.

The principle behind serviced offices is simple. A business takes a building and then rents off different parts of it to other businesses. The electricity, heating, rates and other costs are typically bundled into the lease.

All in, the owners of serviced offices make it easy for you to get in and out quickly. Leases are often short-term. The infrastructure of the office is there the day you move in, meaning no mucking about getting phones connected or wondering when the broadband will be switched on.

Serviced buildings offer different sized offices. This is great for a growing business, as you get to move offices within the same building (avoiding the hassles of changing address).

And many offer support services such as a shared reception, call handling, meetings rooms and basic office necessities such as good broadband and photocopier.

So how do you pick the right serviced office for your business?

The first step is to find the offices near you. In urban areas there will be lots of them; whereas in rural areas they will much more spread out. In some rural areas farms and industrial buildings are being turned into smaller units, which can be a particularly cost efficient way to get premises.

You can use online services such as Office Genie or City Office to search for offices based on your postcode.

Virtual office
Once you’ve got your short list get in touch with each one and see what they can offer you.

Describe your business, what you do, how many staff you have and what your plans are for the next three years. This information will give the managers of the serviced offices an idea what kind of space will suit your business, and whether they can accommodate your growth.

Of course you will need to visit each of the premises. But don’t just go on the official tour and see the things the owners want you to see. Arrive 10 minutes early and do your own inspection first.

Spend some time outside the building. Assess how it looks and whether it fits the kind of image you want to portray. Remember your clients will see this as your premises, even though you share it with others. Look at access and the availability of parking.

Then nip inside and chat to the receptionist. Even though they work for the owners you’ll get an idea of what it’s like to be based in the building, and the pros and cons. You should also ensure you are happy with the receptionist, as they will be the first person clients visiting your new premises will see.

When you do the official tour, remember to check shared facilities such as the kitchen and toilets. And pay close attention to the office space they would like you to rent. Take measurements for future reference, and ask the manager if there are other vacant offices you can look at.

Once you’ve found the right serviced office

Whatever you do, don’t agree a lease there and then, no matter what pressure or incentives are thrown at you. New deals will always be available if they really want your business.

After the tour contact some of the businesses already renting. They will give you an honest opinion about the offices and the way they are run. Is the building well maintained, and do the owners respond to problems quickly?

If you do want to rent an office, don’t be afraid to negotiate for a better deal. See if you can get some freebies thrown in. You could ask for a free redecoration in return for signing a slightly longer lease or renting a bigger office.

You should always find out how much you will really pay each month. Does your quote include VAT, for example, and are there any compulsory “add-ons”, such as telephony, internet provisions, etc.

Finally, as with any contract, make sure you read it carefully before signing. If you’re not the kind of person who does that, give it to a solicitor. It’s much better to discover a showstopper clause before you sign it than afterwards.