7 tips on picking suitable office space and meeting venues

Andrew Ferdinando comes up with seven tips and a great resource for anyone looking to find office space.

13th July 2009 at 1:52 pm

1. Serviced Offices

As a small business looking for office space, serviced offices can offer a flexible solution. Contracts are available for rooms from 2 people up to as many as 200 and term length will normally start at 3 months so you can choose how long you want to commit for. Operators will often offer discounts based on term length – the longer you commit for, the better the price. Office space is provided fully furnished and the centres will be manned with reception staff.

You can go direct to the large operators such as www.regus.com, www.avanta.com and www.mwbex.com or there are some smaller, independent centres which are less well known but can often be hidden gems.

A good way to find the small operators and to assess your options is to use a serviced office broker. These are essentially online agents who will provide you with a list of every operator in your requested location. You choose the centres you are interested in and the operators will then contact you to arrange tours. If you ultimately take space then the broker will receive a fee from the operator. There is no cost to you.

Serviced office operators will typically charge per person per month and prices in London will vary from £350-£1000 + VAT. The smallest office that most operators will offer will be for 2 people. When choosing a centre make sure you take a look at potential “hidden costs”. Operators will nearly always charge for internet connectivity, telephone line rental, telephone call charges and sometimes, handset rental.

The best brokers are www.instantoffices.com, www.easyoffices.com and www.searchofficespace.com.

2. Homeworking/Virtual Working

For many, office space will be surplus to requirements and home working from your living room/spare bedroom will suffice. Should this be the case, why not consider a telephone answering and mailing address service which could help give you a more professional image.

Telephone answering services such as www.kendlebell.co.uk and www.moneypenny.com will answer your calls when you are out of the office or on another call. They will then forward you any messages via text or email, depending on your choice. At the end of the day, you will receive a summary of all your messages. Prices are normally set within monthly packages that will include a certain number of “answered calls” per month. These packages can vary enormously but £50-£100 per month for a user is not uncommon.

Mailing addresses can be hired for those companies looking to give off the image of having a city office. The companies that provide this service will receive your mail and then keep it for collection or forward it depending on your requirement. Prices will start at approximately £25 per month. Don’t forget these kinds of service are also available in all major cities overseas which would make it easy to set up virtual bases in a number of different locations.

All serviced office operators will offer this service but you can also consider www.mailboxesetc.com.

3. Meeting Venues

Most homeworkers are more than happy to work from home but they will not meet people at home. For these people there are a couple of options available. The first is to join a members club (see below) and the second is to hire meeting rooms on an ad hoc basis. All the serviced office operators (listed above) will offer meeting rooms for hire but will normally price out small businesses who need a room for a couple of people for a couple of hours.

However, there are some options which cater specifically for small businesses: www.hubworking.net, based by Liverpool St and Monument in the city of London, offers meeting rooms at £8 per person per hour and is thus very popular with coaches and consultants. www.e-office.net offer a similar service for companies looking for space in Soho.

4. Members Clubs

Many small businesses owners are joining members clubs in central London as they provide a good place to meet clients/partners/suppliers etc.

Clubs such as www.adamstreet.co.uk, www.iod.com and www.thehospitalclub.com offer open plan rooms where business people can meet and work. Subscriptions are normally charged annually and will cost from £300 upwards.

5. Convential Leasehold Office Space

For small businesses conventional leasehold space will normally be too big a commitment. Landlords will usually be looking for a 5 year minimum term and a fairly hefty deposit depending on your financial covenant.

When taking on a leasehold you will become responsible for business rates, service charges, building insurance, facility management, security etc and therefore the “hassle factor” is high. The leasehold is not a realistic option for startups and is best left for businesses that have grown to 30+ employees.

Nevertheless, some conventional commercial property firms are www.struttandparker.com, www.cbre.com and www.joneslanglasalle.com

6. Managed Office Space

Managed office space is a basic form of serviced office space. Rooms will be provided fully furnished and prices will be charged monthly on an inclusive basis. However, IT will be organised by the tenant and there will be no reception staff to meet and greet guests or to answer telephone calls. Try www.hubworking.net for managed office space by Monument station.

7. Office Sharing

A low cost option for startups looking to keep their costs low is to share an office with a company which has spare office space.

The best way to find these opportunities is to look on www.gumtree.com or www.deskspacegenie.co.uk

Costs will vary but can be as low as £300 per desk per month.

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Andrew is Director and Co-Founder of www.hubworking.net which was launched in May 2006. Hubworking offers meeting space for hire by the hour and caters for all variety of businesses from the one man band to the major corporates. Outside of work, he lives in West London and is a huge fan of sport especially squash, tennis and rugby. http://www.hubworking.net

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