Six Tips to Help You Find Your First Office Space

Finding a new office space is an exciting prospect for most businesses but it may feel overwhelming. From researching the perfect location to finding the right type of property, we give six top tips to help you find your first office space.

Rhiannon Philps, Brean Horne Last updated on 19 July 2022.
Six Tips to Help You Find Your First Office Space

Finding your first office space is a big milestone for a business. But with so much to consider, the process may feel a little daunting. Here, we round up six top tips to help you secure a suitable workspace for your business.

Six tips to help you find an office space

1. Assess whether you need an office space

Before starting your search for office space, it’s worth thinking about whether you need one to run your business. The Covid-19 pandemic has transformed the way we work and sInce 2020, working from home has become more common. Depending on the nature of your business and whether you offer remote working, you may find that you don’t need a large workspace or prefer to run your business remotely.

» MORE: What are the benefits of a remote workforce?

2. Research the office space location

Finding an office space in a good location for your business needs is key. However, there’s more to this decision than simply picking the office that is next door to your favourite café!

You need to find an office that is convenient and affordable for you, your current or future employees, and your clients to travel to, whether that means easy access to public transport links or an office with onsite car or bike parking.

It helps to weigh up the advantages and disadvantages of an office in the town centre or one on the outskirts, looking at transport, cost, noise, visibility to customers, and any surrounding amenities like shops and bars.

Researching the area surrounding an office can also help you to decide if it is right for your business. For example, some areas may be particularly known for specialising in certain industries, so you may find it beneficial to set up alongside other similar businesses, although be aware that this may include your direct competition.

It is also worth considering the overall reputation and safety of the area, and what impression this will give to any visitors. If you are flexible about where you work, you may be interested in looking at the best cities to start a business in the UK and the greenest cities to run a business for inspiration.

3. Calculate how much you can afford to pay for an office space

Cost is a major factor in choosing your first office space. It’s important to have a clear budget in mind before you start looking at offices. This will help you figure out how much you can afford to pay for a workspace and find suitable options.

While it may sound tempting to go straight for the cheapest option, it’s essential to ensure that the property meets your needs and expectations. Similarly, spending too much on an office could mean you end up paying for unnecessary space or facilities, and you could struggle to pay the higher cost if your business goes through a challenging time in the future.

Finding a balance between cost and your business needs, and being realistic about what you can afford, will help you to find the best office space for your company.

4. Think about the type of space you need

Whatever type of office you choose, you need to make sure the space is appropriate for your needs. Look at how many employees you have and how much space and equipment each person needs to comfortably perform their work and, from there, assess how big an office you need. As well as working areas, you may need to consider rest areas, meeting rooms, and storage space.

Although getting a bigger space than needed may seem a good idea as it allows you to add team members, there is a risk that if you don’t grow your team as quickly as anticipated you’ll end up paying for space you don’t need. However, getting an office that is slightly too small could make it cramped and difficult to work in.

It’s also worth considering future plans and the scalability of the office space. If you’re a growing business, you may opt for short-term contracts so you can change office spaces as your team expands and your needs change. Accessibility is another important factor, and it’s vital to ensure that your workspace will accommodate the needs of your team members and stakeholders who will use it.

5. Check the office space contract and terms

Office space contracts vary depending on the type of property, building management company and your business needs. So it’s important to know exactly what your agreement includes.

Short-term contracts offer more flexibility if you think your business may grow or move again quickly. While long-term leases tend to be more affordable because you’re likely to be able to negotiate a better deal. However, they do require more financial stability as you’ll need to have enough cash flow to keep up with payments for the duration of the lease.

The business world can be unpredictable, so it’s worth looking at the exit terms of your agreement too. This includes the notice you need to give when you want to leave and any fees you may be required to pay.

When looking through your office contract, it is important to check the small print to see, for example, who is responsible for the building’s upkeep including maintenance, repairs, cleaning, and safety. The contract should also tell you whether you can alter the office space, for example, painting the walls, putting up signs or making larger-scale renovations.

If you have any queries about the contract terms, contact the landlord or management company for clarification. This will help ensure that your office space meets the needs of your company, so you won’t be caught out if anything unexpected happens.

6. Consider what facilities you need for an office space

It’s always worth thinking about the types of facilities you would like an office space to have. For example, you need to make sure the lighting, heating, internet speed, furniture, meeting rooms, kitchen and washroom facilities meet your needs, as these are likely to be essential to the operation of your business.

Many office spaces offer other benefits, such as exclusive events and discounts. But these should only be seen as perks and not be the sole justification for choosing a certain space. Security will be another key point to consider, as you may be keeping valuable equipment in your office overnight. You may also want to consider business contents insurance to protect your equipment.

Whatever space you choose, there are many areas to consider to make sure you find the best one for your needs. With such a variety of workspaces now available, start ups and new businesses should be able to find a first-time office space that meets their requirements, making this potentially difficult step much less daunting.

What are the types of office space?

There are several different types of office space to choose from:

Coworking space

A coworking space is a fully-serviced office building that offers a variety of workstations, which companies can lease. It gives you access to fully furnished desks and shared facilities, such as kitchens, meeting rooms and communal spaces, on a flexible basis.

Coworking spaces are particularly popular among self-employed workers, freelancers, start ups and small businesses as they tend to be cheaper than leasing a private office space.

Advantages and disadvantages of coworking spaces

The table below shows the advantages and disadvantages of renting a coworking space.

Advantages

Disadvantages

  • May offer cheaper rent

  • Useful facilities, e.g. meeting rooms, kitchen, printing

  • Some come with extra perks, e.g. gym, café, events

  • Potential for scalability

  • Opportunities to socialise and network with other professionals

  • Flexible contract terms

  • May charge for certain services

  • It can be hard to form an individual company culture

  • No privacy

» MORE: How to choose a coworking space

Business incubators

Business incubators offer start ups and young businesses all of the support and resources that they need under one roof. There are different types of business incubators and they typically offer:

  • desk or office space
  • access to resources such as industry experts, advisers and mentors
  • administrative support
  • office equipment
  • training
  • investors

Although business incubators are designed to be temporary launching pads for new businesses, they may not be suitable for all start ups.

Advantages and disadvantages of using a business incubator

The table below shows the advantages and disadvantages of using a business incubator.

Advantages

Disadvantages

  • Provides support and help to new businesses

  • Can offer affordable space

  • Competitive application process

Serviced offices

Serviced offices are pre-furnished workspaces with an internet connection, phone lines and work devices already installed. They are also referred to as managed offices or business centres. Typically, you’ll need to pay a monthly charge per desk on a pay-as-you-go basis for a serviced office space. Unlike a coworking space, serviced offices are more like renting a private office space with all of your equipment provided for you – though some coworking companies also offer private offices and suites.

Advantages and disadvantages of using a serviced office

The table below shows the pros and cons of renting a serviced office space.

Advantages

Disadvantages

  • Flexible leases

  • Fully equipped

  • Cost-effective in the short-term

  • Networking opportunities

  • Limited personalisation

  • Not completely private

  • Expensive option in the long term

Commercial lease

A commercial lease allows a company to rent a property from a landlord and use it for business purposes for the duration of the agreement. Commercial leases give businesses exclusive rights to use a property, which may help to establish the company’s culture and brand. Unlike serviced offices or coworking spaces, privately rented commercial properties don’t usually come fully equipped. The business may also be responsible for maintaining or repairing the property for the duration of the contract.

Advantages and disadvantages of using a commercial lease

The table below shows the pros and cons of a commercial lease.

Advantages

Disadvantages

  • Stability with a long-term contract

  • More control over the space so you can brand and personalise it

  • May have lower long-term costs 

  • More privacy

  • Only available on long-term contracts

  • There may be more competition for spaces

  • You may have responsibility for maintenance costs

What makes a good office space?

Creating a suitable office space requires balancing several factors to ensure employees can boost their productivity and focus on their wellbeing. From aesthetics such as colour schemes, lighting and desk positioning to accessibility, flexible working and other amenities, there are lots of factors to consider. An office space should ideally reflect the ethos of your business, while providing a healthy work environment that enables your team to work sustainably and shine.

How do you plan an office space?

An office space is unique, which means there is no one-size-fits-all solution to planning and designing one. Generally speaking, your workspace should be designed to meet the specific needs of your business and employees. Some of the questions to ask yourself when planning your office space include:

  • What are my business needs?
  • How do I want the office to look and feel?
  • How much space doI have to work with?
About the authors:

Rhiannon is a financial writer for NerdWallet, with a particular interest in personal finance and insurance guides for consumers. Read more

Brean is a personal finance writer at NerdWallet. She covers a range of financial topics and has written for consumer titles including Which?, Moneywise and The Motley Fool. Read more

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