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The startup guide to finding an office space

For any start-up, finding a new office is a big step. There is a lot to consider before signing the dotted line. Our guide hones in on some of the factors you should consider before you decide to move in.

You can download the full guide as a pdf from here.

1. Why office space matters

In an era of worldwide connectivity, one might think having a physical office is redundant. With instant communication available via mobile devices and high-speed internet connection (5G is coming), your workforce can be spread all over the world. Nevertheless, an office plays an important role in shaping a company culture and communicating these values to the external world (e.g. visitors or the media).

But that’s not all. Great office spaces can also increase the productivity of your staff and help you attract the best talent.

1a. Productivity

There are a few aspects of daily work that are impacted by your office space and productivity is one of the most prominent.

According to Tim R. V. Davis, sharing an open office is thought to foster a sense of shared mission and facilitate collaboration between coworkers (The Influence of the Physical Environment in Offices). This is much harder to achieve when working in smaller and more divided spaces, not to mention working remotely.

Simple mod cons like a good ventilation system and a decent A/C to ensure there is enough fresh air in the room can work miracles for your staff’s productivity. Even little things like adding yellow accents to your office space can boost effort and increase creativity.

1b. Hiring

In the current economic environment where companies are fighting for the best talent, having an office space that attracts the right type of employees could help you save thousands of pounds in recruitment costs.

According to British Land research, 30% of surveyed Millennials would accept a 10% reduction in their reward package to work somewhere with their ideal features (Raconteur, The Future Workspace, 2016).

In addition, a study from building product manufacturer Johnson Control found that 41% of millennials seek open spaces, and 32% express the preference for breakout spaces over cubicles and conventional meeting rooms.

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1c. Culture building

In any start-up, company culture is created from scratch. Your office space can help determine the culture and your staff will further shape, mould and bend it to the organisation’s needs. Your company culture is also influenced by the company’s shared values and mission.

For instance, if you want to create a collaborative culture in your organisation, you would likely want an open plan office with plenty of breakout areas where your workforce can get together and collaborate in an informal environment (Inc.com, 2014)

If you create a work environment in which employees feel valued, executives are approachable, and workers are empowered to adapt their workstation to their own needs, then you’ll have the best chance of producing a motivated and productive workforce.

1d. Investment

When raising external investment, you need to get buy-in from investors who will evaluate different parts of your business. They will want to know about your team, your costs and your current and future revenue streams. Some investors may like to know where you are based, and having a physical office provides additional credibility. Plus as mentioned in point ‘b’, having the right space can help attract the right sort of talent, another factor that can help you score points with your potential investors.

2. Where to start?

Once you’ve decided to take a leap of faith and start looking for your new office, you might want to follow these few steps:

2a. Do your market research

Understanding your market is the first step. You should do your homework and gather information about the area and type of office you’re after. We’ve put together a quick research checklist to get you started below.

Research checklist:

  • Check rent prices in the given area
  • Find out current availability of free space
  • Compare the running costs/total costs between different types of offices (serviced offices vs traditional lease office)
  • Find out what business rates you would need to pay for your area
  • Check out who else is based in the area
  • Investigate transport links

2b. Decide on what matters most.

When kicking off your search, you should know what you’re looking for. There are obviously various practical factors like costs and lease length. However, there is plenty more to consider.

You might want to carry out a short survey of your staff to find out what the most important factors are to them. You could construct this questionnaire to focus on location, key amenities and key factors influencing the productivity of your employees. Once you know your employees’ preferences and weigh them against practical requirements, you should have a basic list of factors you want to include in your search. This could include:

  • Location
  • Capacity
  • Lease length
  • Deposit
  • Cost per sq ft or cost per desk
  • Fixed space vs flexible space
  • Private office vs shared office
  • Public transport
  • Parking
  • Food places in the area
  • Restaurants to entertain clients
  • Key amenities: coffee machine, tea maker, toaster, oven, A/C, etc.

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2c. Portals

You should start your office hunt with a simple Google search. It’s likely that the first few search results will include links back to property portals.

For instance, Realla is a commercial property portal with the most comprehensive index of commercial property listings in the UK, covering over 90% of all market availability. Such a large number of listings allows you to find an office that meets all or most of your needs. It also gives you an opportunity to compare prices and locations, informing your initial research.

Plus, portals equipped with a number of filters will help to narrow down your research and find exactly the type of office you’re after.

2d. Tenant reps

Once you are sure of your exact requirements, you might want to hire a tenant rep to find the right space for you. A tenant rep works on your behalf to source, negotiate and manage your office move

If you’re looking for a flexible, short-term lease, then a tenant rep might not be necessary. However, if you’re looking into a longer, traditional lease, access to the expertise of the tenant rep could be extremely helpful.

3. What to look for?

Now that you have a list of requirements, you can start booking viewings for offices which could potentially become your firm's new home.

Before you move forward and book a viewing, you might want to ask the following questions to an agent advertising a property you are interested in:

  • Number of people that could be based in the office
  • Potential to grow your team and still keep the cost of the office affordable
  • Easy access to public transport
  • Access to meeting rooms
  • Natural light in the offices
  • If the office is fitted/furnished

Plus, here are some additional things you might want to consider before scheduling a viewing:

  • How energy efficient the space is
  • If the office is environmentally friendly (e.g. energy efficiency rating)
  • How fresh the air is in the local area
  • Are there any external meeting spaces nearby for client meetings (like cafes, restaurants and meeting rooms for a private hire).

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4. Market data

All the data is from March 2018. The data is gathered from the availability of listing on Realla.

4a. London

i. Office

Up-to-date London data is available here: https://realla.co/commercial-property/london

London-office

ii. Serviced office

London-serviced-office

4b. Manchester

Up-to-date Manchester data is available here: https://realla.co/commercial-property/manchester

i. Office

Manchester-office

ii. Serviced office

Manchester-serviced-office

4c. Birmingham

Up-to-date Birmingham data is available here: https://realla.co/commercial-property/birmingham

i. Office

Birmingham-office

ii. Serviced office

Birmingham-Serviced-office

5. Glossary

Commercial property speech is full of jargon. We’ve deciphered some of the key terms you might want to familiarise yourself with.

Serviced office - a type of lease on an office space where all costs are included in the quoted price.

Conventional or traditional lease office - a standard type of lease on an office space where business rates and other running costs are paid by a tenant.

Cat A - for your average punter, it means the landlord of the building has installed floors, A/C and doors. The rest is up to the tenant who can fit the office as they please.

Grade A - Grade A means a building is of the highest standard when it comes to fixtures, fittings and appliances.

For more jargon explained, check out our blog post here.