The serviced office is a common feature of business districts across the UK, so you probably think you know everything about them, right?
In fact, there are still many myths around serviced offices - who they are for, where they are based, what they offer businesses.
These urban legends can lead firms to rule serviced offices out as an option when in fact they may provide the perfect conditions for growth.
Here are some of the most common myths about serviced offices – and the truth behind them.
Myth 1: Serviced offices are more expensive
When businesses try to compare like-with-like, they see the monthly cost of a conventional lease is cheaper than the monthly rent of a serviced office. But that is only half the story.
TRUTH: When you take up a serviced office the monthly cost is usually more expensive than a conventional lease. However, to accurately measure your monthly cost you need to look at the other things you spend money on – fit-out, rent, service charges, insurance, business rates, cleaning, water, electricity, reception services, even sundries like toilet roll!
A serviced office will include all of this within your monthly rent. According to the Chartered Institute of Purchasing and Supply, the average saving for a business employing 10 people to use serviced office space is 39% compared to conventional office space, but depending on location and size of business this can rise to 78%!
Myth 2: Location doesn’t matter to serviced office providers
When serviced offices first began to appear in the 1980s, they initially based themselves around slightly out-of-town business centres and the image stuck.
TRUTH: As the serviced office sector has matured, it has established itself in the heart of every major business district and commercial centre in the UK. No longer are centres tucked away in business parks a long way outside of cities. According to research by property investment analysts Radimus, in the City of London between 1995 and 2014 the number of serviced office centres rose from 25 to 85. This trend has been repeated across the country as demand for flexible office space has increased.
Ensuring our locations are at the centre of commercial activity near major transportation links and city centres is one of Orega’s main criteria. Our offices are found in prime locations in central London and key commercial hubs across the capital, Manchester, Liverpool, Birmingham, Aberdeen, Bristol, and Brussels.
For businesses who need a visible presence but operate from home, act as sole traders or do not regularly receive client visits, Orega also offers a virtual office service. This allows you to operate a professional business address, receive mail, make use of call forwarding and other services without committing to a physical office space. Find more information about virtual offices here.
Myth 3: Serviced offices are only suitable for start-ups
While it's true to say that serviced offices are ideal for small businesses and start-ups, even freelancers looking for coworking space, to say that's all they are good for ignores the benefits of flexible office space.
TRUTH: Serviced offices are so much more than incubators for start-ups. They remove the need to predict what space you need as you grow by allowing you to increase your space as you require. As you grow, serviced offices also make the increase in working infrastructure more cost effective. They’re also suitable for medium sized businesses looking for offices on a more flexible basis than a conventional lease and large corporations who may want an agile presence in a key market without committing to a long-term lease. Research by www.cityoflondon.gov.uk reveals 70% of serviced office space is taken up by SMEs – with half of that being established businesses rather than start-ups – and 30% is occupied by larger businesses including multinationals and corporate giants using the space as a flexible way to maintain a presence in the City. Serviced offices are perfect for project space or swing space or for businesses looking to establish themselves in a new location.
Myth 4: They are only suitable for the short-term
The flexible nature of serviced offices is still, surprisingly, a commonly misunderstood concept. While there are no hard and fast figures on this, there are no shortage of blogs, advice columns and business ‘insights’ that only mention serviced offices in the same breath as ‘short term’ or ‘stop gap’.
TRUTH: Serviced offices are ideal for short-term office space. But they are also a great long-term solution. While leases may by renewed more often, they can be renewed indefinitely. This makes it easy for your business to grow within a familiar space without the hassle of moving to new, bigger premises and notifying clients of change of address etc.
It also gives you a safety net, if expansion hits an issue, so you can reduce your space and recover from a setback before rebuilding.
Myth 5: You can only access them at certain times
Once upon a time business centres had opening hours and were locked up for the night. Then again once upon a time, the fax machine was king.
TRUTH: It's unusual to find a serviced office provider that doesn't give you access 24/7. They will either employ overnight staff or provide you with passcodes or security passes for entry. Buildings are monitored for security day and night but you, and any employees you grant access to can come and go as you please.
Myth 6: You can't add your brand personality to your office
Because of the potential for shorter-term leases with serviced offices, the idea persists that occupiers cannot personalise their surroundings to fit in with their personality of brand identity.
TRUTH: Serviced offices now occupy some of the most characterful buildings in the commercial districts of major cities, but that doesn't stop you adding your own flavour to your office. Brand identity is important and you can reflect that in the same way you would in a conventional office. From brand logos at the front door, walls painted in brand colours with decals to artwork your space is yours, so long as you don't seek to make structural changes. You can also personalise your space to boost the creativity of your workforce, adding breakout or eating areas, places to relax, using glass partitions to create rooms with privacy, the choice is yours!
Myth 7: The hidden costs add up
This is a strange one because, in fact, it's a conventional office that comes with hidden extras as we looked at earlier in this blog. If you run a small or medium-sized business can you say with accuracy how much loo roll or coffee you use?
TRUTH: Different providers bundle different services in as part of your deal. For example, Orega provides tea and coffee and most office providers maintain bathrooms with all the necessary hygiene supplies. There are services you can access through your provider for which there are extra charges but these will be made clear at the outset and itemised on your monthly bills so you can clearly see what extra services you've used.
Myth 8: There is no sense of community
Our final serviced office myth is that there is no sense of community between businesses in a serviced building. Why this has become a popular myth we aren’t sure but the truth is somewhat different.
TRUTH: Serviced offices often act as a hub for the local business community both internally and externally. Good serviced offices will have breakout areas, outdoor roof terraces and conference facilities which are regularly used to host events for occupiers, be that yoga classes or a breakfast networking event. Occupiers have access to each other directly and can build relationships outside the building with the public networking events which also often take place. Unlike a conventional office where you would be responsible for discovering your own networking groups, with serviced offices they not only come to you, you will be notified they are coming so you can get involved. If you are using one of Orega's coworking spaces, every day is a day to build relationships and meet exciting businesses as you work in the same space and get to know each other.
All of Orega’s centres are specifically situated in prime business locations for ease of access to all clients and their guests. If you would like to view any of our 16 centres please contact our friendly sales team on 0800 840 5509.