5 top tips for finding quality, affordable office space

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Dave Carter - Head of Marketing

Written by Dave Carter

It’s staggering to think that one company is formed every minute in the UK. In total, 665,495 start-ups were founded in the UK in 2019/20, and one in three of these businesses were founded in either London or the South East.

The cost of renting office space, especially in London, is a significant overhead for all businesses, but it can be particularly challenging for start-ups where budgets are often the tightest. Whilst many businesses may begin life at home on the dining room table, when you start to grow and need some dedicated workspace, you’ll want to start looking for some good quality affordable office space.

Our top five tips for finding quality, affordable office space

If you’re not sure how to find good quality, affordable office space in London, these five tips should help you on your way.

 

Tip 1 - Consider all your options

You don’t need to jump straight from homeworking into an expensive London office with your name over the door, there are plenty of affordable options to consider before you get to that point.

  1. A Virtual Office – This service enables you to work remotely by providing a range of business functions accessible through the internet. Importantly it enables you to create and maintain a presence in a desirable location without the need to pay rent for an actual space there. This means that you can have a Mayfair office address, or one at The Shard, but without the costs of being there.
  2. A Hot Desk - Hot desking is a growing trend. Hot desks are unallocated shared workspaces that you can use on an ad hoc basis. It’s a flexible alternative to traditional office rental that means you can take a desk in London as it suits you, without having to pay sky-high monthly rents. It’s a great solution for start-ups looking for affordable office space.
  3. A Membership Access Package – Membership access passes are becoming increasingly popular. These are packages offered by flexible workspace operators which allow members to use any of their office locations on an ad hoc basis. Many are available on “pay as you use” or monthly subscription terms meaning you can get access when you need it, to quality, affordable office space, anywhere in the world.
  4. A Serviced Flexible Office – Serviced offices or coworking spaces, are a popular choice for start-ups. In a serviced office your workspace is fully furnished and comes with a host of shared amenities like kitchens and break-out spaces. Rentals are available month to month and pricing is all-inclusive. A serviced office is the perfect choice for a new business finding its feet.

 

Tip 2 - Choose your location wisely

The location of an office is one of the most influential factors on its cost. Office space is a dynamic market like so many others, with prices changing subject to supply and demand. However, there are some general pricing traits that tend to hold true.

More affordable office locations

Suburban locations are usually cheaper than city centres. City fringe areas are usually cheaper than the city core. Desirable postcodes and great connections (rail connections, public transport links, road access etc.) normally command a premium.

For example, a quality serviced office space in Liverpool will cost on average around £183 (per person /per month) and in Birmingham would cost around £231 (per person /per month). Contrast that with Central London where the average is around £469 pp/m.

Central London office prices

Central London is a great example of how you can save money by choosing different office locations that may be just a few hundred yards apart. The table below is a list of serviced office average prices for Central London (£ per person per month). The prices are based upon Office Freedom transactions (Jan – Sep 2021).

Average Serviced Office Desk Rates by Area (£pp/pm)

Here you can see that prices range widely from as little as £167 per person / pm for an office in Chiswick, right up to £683 per person / pm for an office in Kensington. And within each area there will be a range of offices available at different prices. Therefore, think long and hard about where you need your office to be, as its location will be a massive influence on how much you will pay.

 

Tip 3 - Get free expert help from a reputable office broker

Finding quality, affordable office space can be a daunting and potentially time-consuming task. You’ll need to scour the market, do your research, arrange viewings, negotiate the best deal and check the contract terms. That’s all very well, but it sounds like a headache you could do without. That’s where an experienced broker, like Office Freedom, can short circuit the whole process.

Free tenant representation

Office brokers provide free tenant representation, which means that they undertake the office search on your behalf and act as your representative throughout the process. Most offer their services free to clients as the broker receives their fee from the landlord for introducing the client.

A good impartial broker can do all the groundwork for you, shortlist offices, arrange viewings and should be able to negotiate the best possible price and terms. For example, Office Freedom covers the entire office market under one roof so there’s no need to look elsewhere.

Do research the broker’s reviews and ask for references and testimonials. In fact, choosing a good broker is the best tip we can offer!

 

Tip 4 - Research the market thoroughly and network

If you don’t do your research thoroughly, you’re unlikely to discover the best office deal. Google is a great place to start your search and will deliver endless possibilities for office space. Look at property listings websites like Rightmove and listings sites like Gumtree for more localised options but take great care before parting with money on any web platform.

Get networking

Don’t underestimate the power of networking when looking for office space. If you get out there and let people know what you’re looking for, someone will always know someone who could help. There are so many start-ups, particularly in London, and the community spirit is strong, so sometimes all you have to do is ask.

Any research that doesn’t include using social media would be an oversight. The business communities on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram are all littered with opportunities to acquire affordable office space.

 

Tip 5 - Seek out special offers, deals and get haggling

For those looking for quality affordable office space, there’s good news. It’s a buyers’ market. The pandemic has affected many industries, including commercial real estate, and this means that there are now some excellent bargains to be had. With a material shift towards hybrid working, more offices have experienced growing numbers of vacancies and are cutting prices and running promotions to attract occupants back to the office. Use this to your advantage.

Look for promotional offers

Many flexible workspace operators have been reducing rates and running promotions to woo new clients. If you do your research thoroughly, you will soon get a feel for the going rates and will be able to spot a bargain. Look out for promotional offers too. Some of the most popular offers are:

  • Price cuts
  • Rate freezes
  • Zero deposits
  • Rent free periods (e.g. 3 months)
  • Discounted rate periods (e.g. 50% off for three months)
  • Move-in incentives

Negotiate hard

One vital component of finding quality, affordable office space is your ability to negotiate effectively. You’ll be surprised how much you can get with some effective haggling, more often than not there’s always a deal to be done. However, to get the best deal you’ll need to understand the market and what aspects of the deal are negotiable. Beyond the headline monthly rent you should consider, the size of space you require, the length of term you could commit to, any additional chargeable services you’ll need (like meeting room usage).

Negotiating terms and good old-fashioned haggling are an art, so if you don’t feel confident you may wish to engage the services of an experienced broker like Office Freedom, they have the contacts, skills and experience to negotiate a great deal on your behalf.

If you can shortlist two or three potential offices, then those landlords may end up competing for your business.

We’re convinced that if you apply these five top tips, you’ll be well on your way to finding quality, affordable office space in no time.

Let Office Freedom help you find your next office

To find out how much Office Freedom can help you find the right office solution for your business, contact one of our experienced property consultants today:

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Call: 0203 603 2576