3 ways to make your start-up workspace more flexible

Has your start-up out-grown your home. If you're ready to make the move out, here are three options you should consider...

Around 70% of new businesses start off at home. It’s a logical move: you have a place to hunker down and work, a phone and internet connection, and you can claim tax deductions on using your home as an office.

But sooner or later, there comes a time when your home environment ceases to be a viable option for your start-up. It’s simply not professional enough. A workplace is an essential business tool, and investors and clients are much more likely to back your new business if you operate from a fully equipped, professional environment.

It shows you mean business.

However, that doesn’t mean your office has to take up the lion’s share of your start-up capital. The number of UK start-ups is rising every year, and this huge wave of entrepreneurialism is fuelling demand for cost-effective, supportive and flexible workspaces. Many of these environments offer short-term contracts or memberships designed to work around your requirements, ranging from just a few hours’ usage per month to full-time, 24/7 access.

Here are three forms of flexible workspace solutions designed to help start-ups step onto the workplace ladder:

1. Business address and virtual office

In the early days, many start-ups don’t need a physical office at all. These ‘third place’ workers are often out on the road meeting clients and catching up on emails in hot-desk environments, in a cafe or at home in the evenings.

Yet, these businesses still lack an outwardly professional business address. Mail goes straight to the home address, calls go to mobile and business owners don’t have a suitable place in which to hold meetings.

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For these start-ups, a virtual office solution is ideal. Essentially, a virtual office provides all the workspace services a small business needs without the tangible workplace itself. Typically, a Virtual Office provides:

  • A business address and mail handling facility at a specific office building or business centre;
  • Mail sorting and forwarding to your home address;
  • A local business phone number with a receptionist answering and forwarding calls during business hours;
  • The option to use day desks and meeting rooms at your business address facility throughout the week.

For start-ups who don’t need a physical office environment just yet, a virtual office provides a professional office front and helps protect the home address from unexpected callers and huge volumes of business mail.

Is it right for you? A virtual office is a good way to be ‘seen’ in a specific location. It’s cost effective, and can also be used alongside a physical office as your company grows, to test new markets.

2. Shared workspace and co-working

At some point the time will come to vacate the home office, which often happens when the solitude of working at home alone sinks in. The next step is to search for a local shared office or co-working space. These workspaces typically operate on a monthly membership basis and provide hot-desks in a shared office environment.

Most co-working spaces offer a mix of open-plan workspace, private offices and meeting rooms, which are available either on monthly terms or pay-as-you-go usage. At UBC, our shared workplace initiative provides a private desk in a communal office with lockable storage, on-site receptionist support, use of the business address, mail handling and access to meeting rooms.

These shared workspaces provide welcome relief from the solitude of working from home and enable start-up business owners to collaborate with other co-workers, share knowledge, swap contacts and even do business together.

Is it right for you? The big benefit here is collaboration and human company. Co-working spaces are popular with independent professionals and freelancers, and they’re also gaining traction with larger companies who use them as overflow space for teams or ‘touchdown’ desks for travelling employees.

3. Serviced office

Serviced offices are the next step up from co-working spaces. They provide private workspace of varying sizes, typically ranging from small single offices for one or two people up to team-sized rooms for 10 or 12. Some serviced offices can also accommodate larger requirements for 30 or 40 people.

Serviced offices are private and incorporate on-site management services, so they are usually more expensive than a co-working space. Prices vary enormously depending on location, fit-out and lease terms.

As a general example, in the west Midlands, UBC’s serviced offices at Birmingham Business Park start at £310 per person per month. In central Birmingham, prices start from £225 and at Brentford, west London, from £280 per person per month (prices correct as of April 2017).

The key with a serviced office is flexibility. You’ll often find dozens of furnished, connected, ready-to-go serviced offices inside business centres, enabling start-ups to move into a small office and, with time, to grow into larger suites as the company expands. Contracts are often short-term and flexible, typically starting from just a few months, and allow clients to scale their workspace up or down as the need arises.

Is it right for you? A serviced office may not be suitable for new start-ups, given the cost commitments. However, it provides a flexible, scalable environment in a professional setting that’s perfect to grow into.

More than 600 businesses use a UBC Office or Virtual Office at its eight serviced office locations. If you would like to find out more about how UBCUK can help support your business please visit the website: www.ubcuk.com/get-in-touch


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  1. I agree with you that start-ups do need an office.But we should agree that most start-ups(like mine) don’t think about it just because of the lack of resources