With this in mind, we have put together a guide, based on the responses of 500 entrepreneurs, of the most important aspects to consider when choosing your company’s first ‘proper’ home:
Cost was the most important factor for entrepreneurs when picking their first office space. If you are a young business it is likely that you will have a small budget to play with, and will have to be very specific about what to invest in. If you cannot afford many frills or perks, you will be looking first and foremost for functionality of the space you occupy. Indeed, Daniel Attia, co-founder of thriving prop-tech start-up Yopa, says that cost was the most important factor when picking his first office: “Yopa’s office has become more important as the business has matured and taken more people on. At the start, though, we just needed it to be functional and cost-effective”.
The key decision on cost is often what you compromise on, for some it is about paying that little bit extra to be in the right location, but then taking a smaller space in order to meet budget, for others it might be the opposite. In our experience, finding the right office to fit a budget is all about weighing up these elements and prioritising those which will most help the business thrive – see our blog on budget friendly offices for inspiration.
2. Location and transport links
Location and transport are the second most important priorities for entrepreneurs looking for their first office space. There can be many reasons for picking a certain location, whether it is in the middle of a buzzing city with lots of great local amenities to attract the best talent, in a convenient space to help everyone get into work easily or within a business hub in order to allow you to work closely with other firms. You need to consider what certain locations can unlock for your business when setting up. Please see our blog on alternative serviced office locations if you are struggling for ideas in London.
3. IT infrastructure
One of the first things we’re asked by entrepreneurs looking for serviced offices is what the technology infrastructure is like. Behind cost and location (traditionally the most important factors), the tech spec has now become a ‘make or break’ factor for many business owners. The IT spec of a building can vary greatly, not just from different serviced or co-working operators, but also the actual location of the building (broadband black spots, for instance). It is vital therefore to get as much detail as possible on the IT spec, so be sure to ask questions such as whether the provider can offer you your own dedicated internet line, or an app to book the meeting rooms, and anything else you might need from the IT.
If you are a small business just starting out, it is likely that you won’t have the means to invest too much into your own technology. A serviced office space could provide a solution to this, with fully equipped tech spec to meet your specific needs. This can help put SMEs and start-ups on a more level playing field with bigger competitors. Our blog on the ‘top 10 tech trends employees want to see’ can help give a sense of the kind of technology businesses are looking for in their office.
4. Flexibility to grow
One of the main strengths of the serviced and co-working sector is the flexibility it gives businesses to evolve, adapt and change without the worry of being tied into long-term leases or costly fit-outs. The flexible working space can mould around your business as it grows. In particular, high growth start-ups will need their office space to reflect the significant changes that many go through in their early stages. For instance, you might need to hire quickly to scale up your offer, and so it is important to understand how serviced office providers might be able to accommodate the growth of a business.
While the beautiful basics may be enough for some, your business model might better fit a more luxurious office, full of modern amenities. Our research results show how attitudes towards the office are changing, with amenities ranking as one of the foremost considerations for entrepreneurs picking their first office. There is growing demand for “well-being” facilities such as yoga studios, gyms and organised work-out areas. Many office spaces now allow pets (see our ‘dogs in the office’ competition; five per cent of our listings now have gyms built in, while kitchens and break-out areas can take up as much as 40 per cent of some office areas (which would not have been imaginable 10 years ago). With the war for talent hotting up among businesses, an office that has a strong range of the latest amenities could be the key pull for the best graduates.
6. The communities of businesses around you
A big draw of serviced and co-working offices, particularly for start-ups, is the community of businesses you surround yourself with. Often, you’ll find yourselves sharing ideas, insights, contacts, creative inspiration and even services with each other. In particular, advice from businesses who have ‘been there and done that’ can prove invaluable for many first-time entrepreneurs. You may even partner up or bring in business directly for one another. Whatever the benefits may be, if you are looking for your first office, co-working beside like-minded businesses is often preferable to isolating yourself. Providers such as WeWork and The Office Group have the benefit of an app that can connect you not just to other companies in your immediate building, but anyone of the 10,000s of their members globally. Whilst other providers choose the more personal route and have dedicated networkers to ensure like-minded and complimentary businesses meet. See our blog on what makes a collaborative community if you would like to find out more about this.
Your first office is no small consideration, and different entrepreneurs will have different priorities. Shop around, find the office that suits your business best – and if you need any help, our team is here and ready to answer any questions.