As your small business grows and you start looking at moving from your home office into a more professional workspace, a serviced office is probably one of the first options you’ll explore. The average cost of renting UK office space is the highest in Europe, but serviced offices help you bypass these elevated rates, providing fully furnished office spaces in the location you want. This has become an increasingly popular option for many small businesses, with the number of serviced offices set to rise by 30% by 2024 according to a market report by Mintel.
But when you’re looking for the right serviced office for your business, how do you know what to look for? Here, we’ve outlined the five questions you should ask providers to help you pick the best office for your needs.
1. Are there additional services included in the price?
As reported by Mintel, providers of serviced offices need to differentiate what they offer in order to stay ahead of the game. While the basis of a serviced office is the same from provider to provider—a fully furnished office space to rent—it’s the included add-ons that you need to pay attention to. For example, Landmark’s serviced office package includes unlimited access to its Club Space business lounges across the UK. This is ideal if you travel around the country and need somewhere to work while you’re away. Meanwhile, Regus offers its customers the opportunity to customize their office space with furniture, layout, and decorations which can help you establish your brand, and distinguish it from the other businesses on your floor.
Find out everything that is included in the price you’ll be paying and pick the option that’s best suited for you. If you’re likely to be travelling for client meetings on a regular basis, having the option to use office space in other cities, free of charge, is a clear benefit. However, if you’re likely to be hosting client meetings in your own space, you should be more focused on the internal branding of your business.
2. Is there a capacity to upsize or downsize?
As a small business owner, you should be prepared for any sudden changes to the size of your team. You may need to quickly upscale if your business swiftly takes off and you find yourself dealing with more orders than you can physically handle. However, as you start off, you don’t want to be paying for more space than you need. As you only pay for space you use in a serviced office, this is a great option for a startup. However, you should discuss your needs with the provider to make sure they have the room for you to upsize if you need to. If they’re already booked out to capacity, you may have to make other arrangements.
Check your business plan and forecast to help you make a decision when it comes to choosing your office space. If you’re planning on expanding your team, let your serviced office provider know in advance, and discuss tailoring a contract that incorporates this expansion plan from the get-go.
3. Which other businesses are operating in the building?
When you’re working in a serviced office, you’ll likely be in close proximity to a number of other businesses that may well be in competition with you. Hopefully, you’ll be working with a diverse group of entrepreneurs, freelancers, and companies, but this is something you should ask the provider. Working in close proximity to a direct competitor could be disastrous, increasing the chances that customers can be poached and making it more difficult to take business calls in public areas.
As noted by Coworking Resources, coworking competitors can also increase tension in communal spaces, such as kitchens or bar areas. The sense of community between businesses is one of the selling points of serviced offices, allowing collaborations between businesses that may not have otherwise worked together. Find out who you’ll be working alongside, and let this influence your final decision.
4. What transport facilities are available?
When choosing any location for your business, you need to consider local transport options. After all, it’s no use having a dream office if your clients and employees can’t easily get to it. You should ask about nearby public transport, as well as how frequently they run. If there are minimal public transport options available, ask about the parking facilities. According to research by the British Parking Association (BPA), the average person spends almost four days (91 hours) looking for a parking spot every year. If you can help minimize this time for your customers—and employees—you can work to improve customer service, and reduce any early-morning stress levels for your team.
5. Are there any hidden fees or lock-in contracts?
Perhaps the most important thing you should check is the final cost of the space. The last thing you want is to be hit with hidden fees, such as paying extra for internet access or phone lines. Make sure you know exactly what is included in the price you agree to pay by talking through it clearly with the serviced office provider. You should also discuss the duration of the contract, ensuring that you’re not unwittingly signing up for a year-long lease when you only wanted the space for three months. Make sure you read and understand everything clearly, including any fine print, before you sign.