Moving into your first office is a big step, so it’s important that you take your time to plan and execute the move effectively. Follow these simple steps and you’ll soon be on the path to success:
Location is a really important factor – you need to find an office space with good access to local transport networks and amenities for your staff and customers.
Your office will also provide a visible local presence and a positive marketing opportunity – after all, if no-one knows you exist, you’ll find it difficult to source local customers.
Research into your local community, uncovering the success rate of new businesses in particular areas – that way you can avoid finding yourself positioned next to desolate businesses and boarded up shops, which won’t be good for trade.
Find out where your competitors are based and decide if proximity is an important factor for you – for retailers this can make-or-break a business, although it’s not so important for e-commerce firms, for example.
Many industries have clusters of firms who operate in tight enclaves – this is particularly true for technology firms and their suppliers who share knowledge and resources, providing competitive advantages.
Suitability of premises
A flashy office space is all well and good, but if you don’t have the customers to pay for the privilege then you won’t last long there. It’s also not really necessary for an accountancy firm to have a high-tech studio in the middle of Soho, when a modest out-of-city-centre office will work just fine.
You can get much better value-for-money by avoiding the most sought-after locations, finding somewhere on the fringes that has good transport access from central areas.
Room to grow
It’s important that you decide on your immediate and future spatial requirements so that you have room to move into.
You need to have a think about the number of people you will be employing for the next three to five years, deciding how much meeting room, kitchen, reception and desk space will be needed to accommodate everyone.
You will also need to think about infrastructure requirements like fire alarm systems, telecommunications, disabled access, fire exits and cabling, ensuring that you comply with health and safety regulations.
Energy bills can have a big impact on your cost base, so it’s a good idea to look at a building’s efficiency ratings before moving in.
Insulation can reduce heat loss by 40 per cent, reducing your heating bills massively, while energy saving light bulbs can save you up to £50 over the life of a bulb. Double glazing can also reduce heat loss, while a steady-supply of natural light will reduce lighting requirements too.
Insurance and hidden charges
You need to make sure you have the necessary public liability insurance, which covers customers or members of the public in the event of injury from your premises, including compensation and legal expenses.
You also need to be aware of Professional Indemnity Insurance, covering liability for self-employed staff and freelancers, buildings insurance, which guards against structural damage to the property, and contents insurance, which will cover your equipment and furniture.
These insurances may or may not be covered in your lease or tenancy agreement, so it’s important to check.
Other hidden charges may include service charges, added by the landlord to cover repairs and maintenance, security retainers, usually in the form of a deposit, and Business Rates, which cover local council services.
Technology is an important aspect of business success so it’s important that you get it right. The speed of your internet connection and server capability will improve business efficiency and productivity hugely.
VoIP systems are a highly cost-effective solution which allow you to make voice calls over the internet, rather than using a traditional phone line. Phone systems, data points and server access can be tricky to understand, so it might be worth paying a consultant to set this up for you.
Article by Cathie Sellars, Head of Marketing at Workspace – providers of high-quality office space for new and growing businesses.