If you are a start up or new business reaching the point where you need access to office space on a regular basis then it may not be in your best interests to rush out and sign a traditional five year lease. Bear in mind that as well as the long term financial commitment to the rent you will also need to find cash to cover the ongoing service charge, business rates, insurance, cleaning, maintenance and utilities. In addition someone will have to commit a fair few hours a week to managing the space.
The extended period of no and slow growth in the economy has led to many landlords and tenants sitting on large areas of vacant office space. This vacant office space is often made available to tenants on favourable terms or it’s snapped up by shared space operators who then deliver it back to the market as fully functioning office space.
If you can operate your business for even just the coming 12 months without making a five year commitment to a traditional office lease then it could be the best way forward. The decision could be easier than you think. Take a look at the five alternatives below and you might take a step back from that long term lease, at least for a few more months
Sublease office space from a mate
You’ll know someone with some spare office space, you just don’t realise it. Many businesses are not doing as well as they would like. It’s not the kind of thing they will be tweeting about so you’ll have to draw it out of them. These days that’s not too difficult – just send a ‘not too smug’ email to all your personal and business contacts letting them know that you are looking to sublet some office space and you’ll be surprised how many respond.
Take an office in a business centre
There are two thousand business centres operating in the UK, making it the best served country in the world. You can find a business centres in almost every town and the level runs from the most basic space in small non-descript buildings up to fully furnished, equipped and staffed offices in some of the best buildings in the country. They offer short term agreements from three months to 24 months and some even offer month to month terms. The space will often be available fully furnished and both telephone and broadband Internet will usually be available immediately upon move-in. Finally, unlike most conventional leases, you will have the possibility to grow within the facility if and when you need to.
Use a day office service
If you like the idea of using a business centre but don’t need an office every day of the week or can’t justify a full time office yet then you should consider using day offices. This will allow you to book and use an office one day at a time, as and when you need it. It also gives you the possibility to book an office at different locations rather than having to commit to one location. You can elect to use a lower cost workstation in an open plan office or book a private office for the day. Either way it will come with professional furniture, broadband Internet, a corporate level phone and generally free tea, coffee and water. Another distinct advantage is that you will not have to pay a security deposit.
Make use of a virtual office
If you need a professional business address but don’t necessarily need the office space itself then a virtual office may be the answer for you. Almost every business centre in the UK offers virtual offices. At its most basic this can be an address and mail handling service and at its most sophisticated will literally be ‘everything but the office’. This could include use of the address including the ability to register your company at the building. In addition a local phone number with calls answered in your company name and then handled according to your instructions. For example screening calls and patching them through to your mobile or taking a message. Often a virtual office will come with access to meeting rooms and or day offices at the business centre.
Keep working from home
Your final option is of course to keep doing what you are doing now whether that’s working from home, Starbucks or a local hotel lobby.
- Empty buildings to become available for start-up businesses
- Let it out!
- Pay as you go office scheme launched
- Demand for commercial property falters
- Demand for virtual offices surges
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