The world of offices has changed dramatically over the last ten to twenty years. The result: different types of workspace solutions to suit every company’s needs. But it’s easy to be bamboozled by all the industry terms for these ‘workspace’ types. As usual, we’ve got your back with this quick guide to all the different types of offices, how they compare and who each one is appropriate for.
Made popular by the likes of WeWork, coworking is the ultimate flexible office solution. With no contracts, you can snap one of these up in an instant. And with desks available by the day, week or month, you only pay for what you use.
It only makes up a small portion of the market but offers optionality for small businesses where previously there wasn’t any. Here’s what you get if you go down this route:
- A desk or a number of desks in a shared space.
- You can choose between a hot desk where you might not get the same desk every day, or a fixed desk where you can leave your things and come back to it day in, day out.
- You get to benefit from all the facilities provided by the coworking centre such as meeting rooms, high speed internet, communal areas, bike storage, mail services and often teas and coffees, all of which are included in the price.
If you’re happy working alongside people from other companies, and you don’t need a dedicated office, this is the ticket for you. It provides great value for money without any of the overheads. Plus, if you go with a provider who has multiple centres and you buy a monthly membership, you get the added bonus of having access to all their sites!
Often these coworking spaces are offered within a building that also houses our next option. The great thing about this is that you can start to mix and match. So let’s say that you want a permanent office but you’re worried your staff won’t always come in and utilise the space. A good solution here would be to take a smaller office and purchase some additional (but cheaper) coworking passes. Everyone gets a desk in the same building on busy days but you don’t have to pay as much for your office… voila!
If you’re interested in this option, why not search all London’s hot desk or fixed desk options on Upmo now.
Serviced (dedicated) offices
On to our next solution. Serviced offices are growing rapidly in popularity and offer a low hassle, highly flexible, all inclusive option for those needing a dedicated office. Who doesn’t want that? Like people and companies, these come in all shapes and sizes. You can get a small 1 person office with not much other than a desk and a chair, or you can get a 200 person office complete with its own kitchen, meeting rooms and break out spaces.
So, let’s look at what’s usually included in this “all inclusive” solution:
- A private office inside a building with other companies in it.
- These usually come fully furnished and ready to go.
- Access to communal spaces in the building: breakout areas, kitchens, cafes, bike storage, showers.
- Flexible term lengths. Choose to lease on a month by month basis or try getting a discount by locking it in for a few years.
- All services and resulting bills are included - utilities, maintenance, post handling, reception, business rates… the lot.
- There’s no significant upfront expenditure other than a one month deposit.
What you don’t get:
- Usually there are additional costs for things like telephony, additional bandwidth, car parking etc.
- Meeting rooms usually are not included in the price but can be booked by the hour. (Some providers offer credits as part of the package).
- You are unlikely to be allowed to customise the space as much as you would if you took out a long lease on a space, meaning you have to somewhat adopt the brand of the flexible office provider.
If you’re looking for a bit of flexibility, need a space to call your own and aren’t too worried about custom building a space to your specification, this is the option for you. Forget long term commitments and complicated leases. This is office space on your terms. Where you can start small and grow. Where you can experiment with what works for you. And where you can sign up for a month at a time.
If this sounds like you, search all London’s serviced offices on Upmo.
“Managed” is the new kid on the block. It strikes the perfect balance between a traditional lease and a flexible office space. You get a fully customizable space that you can fit out how you wish and you don’t share any spaces with other companies. So if zebra stripes and pink flamingos are your jam, then this might be just what you need. The terms are usually longer, typically two to three years, but you still get an all inclusive price and the management of the building is taken care of for you.
Let’s set out what you get and why this appeals:
- An office to call your own without any shared spaces (usually a floor or an entire building).
- A fully customizable solution that you can fit out the way you want by installing meeting rooms, phone booths, breakout spaces, kitchen etc. and can brand however you see fit.
- Small upfront costs as the fit out and bills are spread across the tenancy.
- One single monthly bill that includes all services.
- The management of the building is taken care of for you.
So in essence, if a key component of your company culture is to have your workspace reflect your company brand, then Managed offers the right level of customisation without having to tie yourself into a long lease. It’s a simple, elegant solution that removes the complexity of traditional leases, allows for a tailored space and helps with the management of cashflow.
If you’re less concerned about cashflow and want to focus on long term savings though, you may want to look into our next option.
Last but not least is the old school. Traditional leases make up most of the commercial property market even today. The ‘lease’ agreement is usually between a tenant and a landlord and usually is structured over several years (typically 5-10).
So what do you get with this contract? Well, it’s fairly simple because it’s just the basics:
- A dedicated space that is entirely yours.
- One that you can customise as much as you like. Most companies bring in a “fit out” firm who take care of designing and building the interior, which may include kitchens, meetings rooms, a reception, bathrooms etc.
- In some cases you get a cheaper deal in the long run.
- And you also get peace of mind that you don’t have to worry about moving for the foreseeable.
So you save money in the long run and can customise your space to any style you fancy. Typically this office type suits larger organizations with a clear picture on their growth plans. One that can afford to take on long term liabilities and pay high upfront costs.
The downsides are that these are long term contracts. There’s little flexibility. You’ll have high upfront costs and you’ll have to deal with the ongoing management of the property and its corresponding bills. Expect to have to pay utility bills, business rates, cleaning and maintenance bills etc. as well as lawyers and agents fees for the lease itself.
If you want to go down this route, plan for at least 6 months. We’d also recommend engaging a broker to assist in this process. It’s for this reason that our platform does not deal with traditional offices.
Shared offices, office timeshares & subleases
That’s the bulk of the different mainstream options available to you. There are a few other model that exist out there and we’d recommend talking to providers about these when you’ve found a an office you like:
- Shared offices: where a company can choose to give up some desks in their space to people from another organisation.
- Office timeshares: where an agreement is met between 2 or more companies over the days on which they will be in the office and the lease is effectively shared. This is ideal for organisations with a set working from home policy who are able to share with another organisation who want to use the office on different days.
- Subleases: where a new lease is signed between the building owner, the current tenants and a new tenant, through which the new tenant will occupy a portion of the building. This is often appropriate for organisations who will scale in the future and are keen to sign a lease for a larger space than what they need now. It is however often complex to negotiate as it requires all parties to agree.
And that’s a wrap. Hopefully this gives you a flavour for the type of options that are out there and helps you make a better decision around the sort of space you might want to lease.