Regional Spotlight: Why reading is now leading the charge for co-working and serviced space outside of London



Co-working space and serviced offices are making their mark throughout the UK regions creating a strong presence in cities such as Manchester, Birmingham and Leeds. Reading is the latest major regional centre to see an upsurge in take-up over the last 18 months. Having not reported any co-working or serviced office deals between 2014 and 2016, Savills research shows that Reading has seen serviced office providers account for 29 per cent of all office space take-up in 2017 and 20 per cent so far in 2018.

So what has caused this sudden surge in co-working and serviced office activity? The Reading Tech Nation 2017 report outlines a number of reasons behind the growth, from having an increasingly strong talent pool on tap at the University of Reading that is willing to stay and work in the City, to the growing number of University linked incubators and accelerators, such as the Enterprise Centre and The Gateway Building at Thames Valley Science Park, which is now home to over 70 different early stage companies, as well as the start-up growth cluster at Grow@GreenPark

Reading is also home to many multi-national companies in the town centre as well as the out of town business parks such as Thames Valley Park, home to Microsoft, and PepsiCo and Cisco at Green Park. The combination of major multi-national companies, a growing start-up scene and a strong talent pool have helped to put the town on the map in terms of its appeal to co-working and serviced office operators.

Furthermore, its close proximity to London (25 minutes to Paddington by train) and Heathrow Airport, as well as the introduction of Crossrail in 2019, have been another pull factor for providers as well as companies who see Reading as being simply an extension of London.

Average desk prices in Reading for a private office range from £280 per person per month at the cheapest end of the scale and £375 to £400 per month for the newer spaces. Fora, which offers premium co-working space is closer to £500 per month for a private office.

Savills research notes that serviced office operators acquired 135,053 sq ft in 2017 and 43,600 sq ft to date in 2018 in Reading with names such as Spaces, Fora and Pure Offices all taking space.

Reading, as the commercial centre of the Thames Valley, now has a strong variety of co-working and serviced office space to complement its existing conventional office offer, providing a range of occupational options for both start-ups as they scale-up but also multi-national businesses considering the Thames Valley as their next move.