What is a Serviced Office?
Before we explore exactly how the serviced office model works and its’ benefits, let’s take a brief look at the history of serviced offices. Serviced offices, as they are known today, have been around since the seventies. In the US, they may have evolved from call centres for travelling salesmen. In the UK we have a precedent for sharing premises, staff and overheads in the shape of Barristers working together to form Chambers.
The business centre, as we know it today, started appearing in the 70’and 80’s and has grown steadily since then, offering more and more services and flexibility to keep up with the demands of an ever changing business and technological environment.
The provider usually rents space in a commercial office building, which is then converted into work- ready offices, meeting rooms and shared reception and switchboard. The provider then sub-lets directly to tenants on all-inclusive monthly rates and simple, short-term licenses.
How it works
The office suites are furnished with workstations – usually comprising desk, pedestal and chair – and supplied with high speed broadband and telephones.
You pay for the room and all the facilities as one monthly fee: cleaning, maintenance, refuse, utilities, rates, reception and switchboard, etc. are all included. You take the space you need and can move within the building as you grow and/or contract, according to the needs of your business.
As well as dealing with phone calls and visitors at reception, staff can help with secretarial and admin requirements, as well as provide a concierge service – so you don’t need a secretary or PA. Meeting rooms, hot-desks and shared workspaces are available as and when you need them – so you are not paying for extra space you don’t always need.
Business Centres work on flexible licences (a couple of pages, rather than a 50 page lease document) from monthly to annual, or even longer. Spaces are rented on all-inclusive monthly rates, which gives you control of cash-flow with easy in-easy out terms.
Your centre can provide space from a single workstation, remaining competitive right up to 20-50 workstations, depending on your needs and circumstances. Business centres are not usually branded, so there is little difference between renting a serviced office or a taking leased space in any other multi-tenanted building.
Your office in the virtual world
Office space, however economic, is still a cost. If you need a particular location, but your business is not quite ready for that cost, can you still have an office?
The answer is yes: you take a virtual office that gives you a mailing address, personalized telephone answering service, plus ancillary services like hot-desks, and meeting rooms, secretarial and admin services and business support.
These days virtual isn’t just about office space, there are all sorts of virtual services made possible by the cloud and there are many ways for business to work without large infrastructure and associated cost.
Your requirements will depend on your business, of course. It makes sense for IFA’s, coaches, accountants and IT professionals, perhaps, to work from home and clients and prospects would think nothing of it. A recruitment company, telecoms provider or solicitor, however, may feel physical space is appropriate.
If you have more than one member of staff you may want to work together in one space. But it also depends on personality: can you cope with working at home or do you need the discipline and stimulus of an office environment?
Nevertheless, if you are one of the many people for whom working at home is the perfect option – good lifestyle, no commute, low costs, see more of the family, etc. – a virtual office can give you most of the benefits of physical space at a fraction of the cost.