SME guide to finding office space in South East, North East, Wales, Midlands, North of England and Scotland.
It used to be the case that any media company wanting to be taken seriously had to be based in London. Recent years have begun to see a shift, with high rents forcing many companies to reconsider their place in the capital. At the same time, many cities around the country are undergoing little booms of their own. Places like Aberdeen, Bristol and Leeds are increasingly attractive places for media companies looking for offices outside of London.
A new office is not something to be rushed into, and there are a lot of factors that need to be considered. Here is a guide for any media company looking to establish themselves outside of London.
Your new location is hugely important to the continued growth of your business. The reason why London is so great for companies is because transport is relatively easy and the city itself is a major destination. If your company depends on face-to-face meetings, you will need to make sure that your new location is not difficult to get to, or that it is still relatively easy for you to get to London.
If, on the other hand, your team does a lot of travelling to clients, you don’t want to be tucked so far away that it adds unnecessary time and effort onto your trips. Being near motorways or major train routes will really simplify your operations and lower your costs. You may also work closely with other companies, such as a design or video agency, and want to be close to them.
The amount of time you and your media company staff spend travelling to and from work is hugely important. Workers who battle busy trains, traffic clogged roads or crowded buses for hours every week are going to be stressed and worn out by the time they get to the office each morning.
Another key motive for being easy to get to is that it will help you recruit the best talent. If getting to you involves a long commute by car or public transport, potential recruits are unlikely to bother.
If the majority of your workforce is going to drive in each day, you need to make sure there is enough parking either on-site or in the surrounding area. Being able to offer your staff free parking is the ideal option, but if that isn’t possible you should try to minimise the cost as much as you can.
Being close to shops, restaurants and bars can be important for a number of reasons. Firstly, it gives you and your workers somewhere to go for lunch. Secondly, it gives you places to take clients or have meetings you don’t want to have in the office. The benefits of having somewhere to go as a team on payday for a few drinks should not be understated.
Once you have settled on a few potential new locations, the hard work really begins. Now you are going to have to balance your business requirements with what is actually available in the area. Be prepared to visit sites a number of times and don’t be afraid to have high standards. This is a big investment and potentially a place you are going to be spending a lot of time in, so better to be picky now before you commit financially.
Here are a few things you need to look at carefully:
At the very least, you are going to need a dedicated area where people can make themselves a hot drink or microwave their lunch. You may want to have a bigger space with tables so that people can have lunch together instead of eating at their desks. Make sure there is enough space for a fridge and dishwasher unless you are willing to do the washing up yourself.
You may not need extra rooms for strict businesses purposes, but it is useful to have some secluded space away from the general activity of the office. Managers and team members may need a quiet place to talk, phone clients or get away from the noise to concentrate on a difficult task.
You don’t want to be piling people on top of each other in a space that is too cramped. On the other hand, too much space can make people feel isolated and stifle collaboration. You should also think about any future expansion you may want to do. You don’t want to turn down future opportunities because you don’t have enough space for new employees or equipment.
The way the space is designed will have a big effect on how your media company operates on a day to day basis. A big open plan office could be better suited for bustling creative media company that thrives on idea sharing and collaboration, while a more segmented layout will suit a company with different specialised teams working on their own projects.
Do you want to share?
Occupying the same office space as another company has a number of potential advantages. It could help you bag the perfect office that was previously out of your price range, or put you in close proximity to a complimentary company and skills base.
There are some potential risks as well though. If you are media company that likes a chilled, focused environment, then being paired with a loud telesales company could quickly start to cause friction.
You also need to look carefully at the building you will be walking in and out of every day. Looks are only one part of the equation here, and there is big list of potential issues you could run into.
A modern, cutting-edge media company shouldn’t be housed in a decaying, decrepit looking building. Lots of urban development across the country means that there is no shortage of modern, refurbished or entirely new office spaces waiting to be occupied.
An early port of call should be guaranteeing that the building meets all of the necessary health and safety regulations.
This is important – does the building have disability access and lifts or will you, your workforce and any visitors have to trudge upstairs every time you want to get into the office?
Make sure that the building’s owners aren’t planning on any substantial construction work or renovations that could hinder your ability to move in and get to work. Sometimes this kind of work can’t be predicted, such as burst pipes or storm damage, but the owners should be able to tell you if anything major needs to be taken care of and give you a rough timetable.
Your new landlord
It is always best practice to meet potential landlords face-to-face, not just to build a good relationship but also to make sure that all parties are clear on what is expected of each other. You are aiming for a productive, long-term relationship rather than one defined by monthly squabbles and hostility.
Once you’ve gotten this far, you may have an office that is seemingly perfect for your ambitious media company. Now it’s time to get down to the financials. You want to get your money’s worth, especially considering you’ve been getting hammered by rent prices in London.
Importantly, there are two kinds of leases generally offered for office spaces to let:
This agreement is the most common, and gives you an empty office that you will need to fill. You will be responsible for furniture, internet connection and other facilities, and you will likely be locked into the contract for a set period of time.
This kind of lease allows you to rent the office space for shorter periods of time. Offices being offered on flexible leases typically come pre-equipped with furniture, machines, and internet and phone lines. These leases are generally more expensive on a monthly basis, so costs can add up over the long term.
Depending on the property and the kind of office space, your deposit could be substantial. A typical requirement is three months’ rent upfront.
You don’t want to get caught out at the last minute by costs that you hadn’t accounted for. There may be service charges for things like cleaning included, so make sure you really look at the contract before you sign.
Prices around the country
[The following prices are based on 2018 statistics provided by real estate advisers Colliers]
South of England
- Brighton – Grade A: £30.00 / Grade B: £24.00
- Bristol – Grade A: £32.50 / Grade B: £28.50
- Norwich – Grade A: £16.50 / Grade B: £10.00
- Oxford – Grade A: £25.00 / Grade B: £20.00
- Plymouth – Grade A: £17.00 / £12.00
- Portsmouth – Grade A: £16.00 / Grade B: £12.00
- Birmingham – Grade A: £33.00 / £22.50
- Northampton – Grade A: £14.50 / Grade B: £9.00
- Nottingham – Grade A: £19.50 / £12.50
- Telford – Grade A: £13.50 / £8.00
North of England
- Bradford – Grade A: £14.00 / Grade B: £7.50
- Hull – Grade A: £16.00 / Grade B: £10.00
- Leeds – Grade A: £30.00 / Grade B: £24.00
- Liverpool – Grade A: £22.00 / Grade B: £12.50
- Manchester – Grade A: £35.00 / Grade B: £27.00
- Preston – Grade A: £10.00 / Grade £7.00
- Sheffield – Grade A: £24.00 / Grade B: £15.00
- York – Grade A: £18.50 / Grade B: £12.50
North East England
- Darlington – Grade A: £13.50 / Grade B: £8.50
- Newcastle – Grade A: £23.50 / Grade B: £16.00
- Sunderland – Grade A: £12.50 / Grade B: £8.00
- Aberdeen – Grade A: £28.00 / Grade B: £16.00
- Edinburgh – Grade A: £32.50 / Grade B: £22.00
- Glasgow – Grade A: £31.00 / Grade B: £21.00
- Cardiff – Grade A: £21500 / Grade B: £18.00
- Swansea – Grade A: 14.50 / Grade B: £10.00