What to consider when choosing an office for your startup
Deciding on the right place to base your business is tricky and needs to be carefully thought through. Nobody wants to end up in a cramped box with no daylight, if you can possibly avoid it. Before you begin searching for the ideal space to build a company, you should consider the needs of your business as they are at the moment, as well as how you expect them to evolve in the future. Have a think about whether you would prefer to be part of a shared office space or have your own building. Decide on what would be a deal breaker – for example do you absolutely need to be in a certain catchment area, or have a minimum size – so that you can strike options off the list with no hassle. Many startups underestimate how time consuming office-hunting can end up being, so make sure you leave enough time and clear some space in the diary to do it properly.
WHERE TO LOOK
Having been through the process of finding an office here are some places we suggest you check out during your search:
- Hubble - https://hubblehq.com/
Wide-range of office space listings, where you can easily book viewings and access special offers.
- WeWork - https://www.wework.com/
The daddy of the shared office world, WeWork seemingly have an office everywhere and focus on community, networking and cool spaces.
- Gumtree - https://www.gumtree.com/
Not the first place you might think to look but there are some excellent deals to be found here if you look hard enough
- Headspace - http://www.headspacegroup.co.uk/
Creative venue for tech, digital and media-type companies focused on making work as hassle-free as possible.
- Runway East - https://runwayea.st/
Entrepreneurial community with flagship office space located handily close to both Shoreditch and the City.
- Worklife - https://work.life/
Cool co-working space for everyone from freelancers to established businesses. Lots of events and great community vibe.
- Purple Patch - http://www.purplepatch-uk.com/
Our current home! Great location, cool exposed brick, we’re here…what more could you want?
Here are some of the main things to think about when visiting spaces:
It isn’t up to us to stipulate a strict amount of space per person that you should be aiming for, as we don’t know the ins and outs of your business. Perhaps you only need enough space for someone and their laptop, or perhaps your employees need double screens and room for storage. Take stock of what your employees are working within currently (if you already have an office) and look at whether that should increase or decrease. Don’t forget you may need to allow additional space for private meetings, client interactions, and breakout spaces away from the main work area. Be aware of how quickly you will want to hire further employees as well; if you’re in a private office make sure you allow room for new hires, if you’re in a shared space make sure there are enough desks free to grow your team.
Sure, you might find the perfect office a stone’s throw-away from your house and have a dream commute but if you live hours away from where your clients are based, then that could cause some problems. You might want to think about attracting potential employees as well – in London the Silicon Roundabout by Old Street Station has become ‘the place to be’ for tech startups, and those looking for jobs in that sector are likely to be predisposed towards that location. It might be that bit more expensive to get your first choice of area, but it can certainly be worth it in the long run if it offers networking opportunities and employment benefits.
As a startup you will want to be cautious about signing for a longer lease-term simply because it might not be suitable a few years down the line due to unexpected growth or some hardship that couldn’t have been anticipated. Without being able to see into the future you cannot know what might happen and therefore should steer clear of restrictive five year leases (or longer). Discuss your needs and considerations with the landlord or property manager and try to find something that is flexible enough to fit your business. Insert break clauses where appropriate or negotiate short notice periods (e.g. one month is standard in many shared spaces).
You might want to keep a price in mind before you begin the office hunt, to save time. Turn up to viewings with a pre-agreed budget and be prepared to argue the price down – it never hurts to ask for a discount. Be mindful of hidden costs that might not get mentioned initially (things like cleaning or utilities) and make sure you include these in your price estimate before reaching an agreement. Don’t forget to compare it with deals available in the surrounding area – find out what similar spaces cost nearby (even if they wouldn’t be quite right for your company) to make sure you aren’t getting ripped off. And remember, some offices will be advertised as cost per square footage, some as cost for entire space, or some as cost per desk – make sure you know what you’re dealing with before thinking you’ve found the deal of the century!
This can refer to both the layout of the space as well as the style of the interior. The layout is important because it can mean the difference between an open and collaborative feeling encouraged by everyone being in the same place and able to overhear one another, and separate departments working in their own corners. Whichever you prefer depends on the type of business you run and while an open plan office works for some, others prefer more closed off spaces for private client interactions. The style of your office might be last on your list of priorities, but it will influence how others perceive your company. If your business deals in stylish goods (such as bespoke furniture) then it makes sense to subtly demonstrate your industry knowledge using your office space. Simply having an office that appears bright, new and perhaps with a few interesting quirks will benefit your startup – you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, but then again a rundown office with a leak, while charming to some, probably isn’t going to work its magic on your clients.
If you decide to go for a co-working space, then you will want to find out who else would be working nearby. Companies that conduct a lot of phone calls during the day could be distracting, and any direct competitors on your floor will be a no-no. Do some research into the surrounding area too and find out what sorts of business operate nearby, just to give you an idea of the location and how it appears to customers. The last neighbours you should look out for are the ones next door having extensive building work done – take it from us at BrighterBox, you don’t want to be located near anyone doing any kind of drilling or brick cutting for months at a time!