The online revolution might mean self-employment is higher now than at any time in the last 40 years. Freelancers who need an office range from financial advisers to graphic designers, and for all of them, flexible office space is an enticing solution.
To help you out if you’re considering the move, here’s our smart guide to flexi offices, complete with key things to look out for when signing the contract.
Not just for tech kids
Flexible office space may sound like something that’s only being used by start-ups in East London, but it’s actually a concept that originated in the US. Starting in the ‘70s, companies began to offer agreements for space in buildings, rather than the buildings themselves.
Businesses can then rent out floors, rooms or even desks, usually with essential services included in the fixed monthly cost. The simplicity of the system is what has contributed to its popularity.
What to look out for
If this sounds tempting, and you’d like the benefit of only paying for what you need while maintaining a professional workspace, then here are our top five tips for going flexi:
1. Plan for growth—the average commercial lease is over 5 years according to IPD, but flexible office space means that you don’t need to be able to predict the future to move into the right office now. Look out for free space in the same building for seamless expansion as your business grows.
2. Read the small print—terminology varies a bit, but as a rule fully serviced offices will include everything. Managed offices, however, may vary what’s included in the basic rate. Whether it’s the commercial electricity powering the office, the broadband you need for business, or the business rates you have to pay, make sure to check if they’re included or extra.
3. Check the equipment—most flexi leases will come with furniture, and possibly even shared IT facilities. Smart workers will always take the opportunity to think carefully what they need. Just because you’re not paying upfront for the high-spec shared server, doesn’t mean you’re not picking up the bill ultimately.
4. Access additional facilities—many flexible spaces will include meeting rooms that can be hired on demand, with some agreements including meeting room time as part of the monthly package. Others will have conference rooms, client catering and manned receptions as part of the deal. Consider what you’ll use regularly to avoid paying for peripheral extras.
5. Look at your peers—it’s long been known that working closely with others drives innovation, and smart workers will always value these improvements. You should consider the companies already in the building—remember that you might be able to share costs and ideas, or even increase your bargaining power with suppliers.
We’re also always looking to get the best out of collective knowledge, so leave a comment below the line with any of your own tips about renting flexible office space!