Establishing yourself as a startup business is an exciting yet daunting adventure but throw in all of the costs involved, it can suddenly become more expensive than you may think.
While working from home is a great place to start, your mum’s kitchen table isn’t really a professional location to hold a business meeting so at some point you’ll probably want to start looking for some cheap office space in London.
There are over 600,000 startups in London and while there’s been an increase in financial support through government bursaries and crowdfunding, the daily costs such as rent, electricity and a decent internet connection quickly start adding up.
For most freelancers and startups, private offices are out of the question, but there are some cool ways you can access professional offices, look good, feel super cool and impress your clients.
If you’re not sure what kind of office you’re looking for, here’s some help on finding out what type of London office is right for you and your company.
Right, let’s get started, here are 10 ways of finding low-cost office space in London!
1. Hot desks are so freaking hot right now
Whether you’re a one-(wo)man-band or a team of ten, hot desking is a cheap and flexible option for renting office space when you need to be tight with your dollar. There are some really cool shared and hot desking offices located throughout London, many of them targeting specific business fields such as tech, creative or social enterprise.
Most hot desking offices offer a range of rental deals from daily rates to monthly or even annual subscriptions. This price usually includes access to a desk, an electricity socket and an internet connection. Fancier offices will also provide a kitchen, break out areas, meeting rooms and sometimes even ping pong tables.
A downside of hot desking is that you don’t have a permanent desk to leave your belongings at so you have to bring your laptop and other work items with you every day.
2. One office, many businesses
A more permanent but just as affordable solution is finding a shared office where multiple businesses rent desks and share facilities and services.
Shared offices are a fantastic option not only for the low cost but for small startups who want the ability to leave computer monitors, files and paperwork behind at the end of the day.
There are hundreds of shared offices throughout London, many of which offer additional benefits such as meeting rooms, relaxation areas and seriously cool furniture.
An added bonus is that you will often find yourself working alongside companies from a wide range of business areas. This is awesome for networking and sharing skills and expertise – the ‘you scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours’ bartering system is a commonality in shared offices.
3. Rent a spare desk
Many businesses rent or buy office spaces that are just slightly too big and will often have a spare desk going unused. Many of these desks are rented out to freelancers and startups looking for a place to work and whilst costs vary depending on the office they are usually very reasonable.
You can find these desks through sites like HubbleHQ or speak to your existing clients and other startup companies about any space they may have in their offices.
4. Work in your pyjamas
While renting an external office is something to work towards, it isn’t always an affordable option. Working from home has its drawbacks and benefits, you might be paying extra bills but you’d be paying no additional rent and you can roll out of bed and already be at work.
5. Caffeine and sugar to spur you on
Many coffee shops and cafes encourage freelancers to work from their tables, exchanging the purchase of a coffee or two for use of their wifi connection. This is particularly popular with creatives and you will often find rows of Apple laptops lined up along windowsills.
Coffee shops are also a good meeting room option for freelancers who don’t have access to a private space (if you can find room amongst the laptops).
While the idea of endless coffee and cake has its romantic appeal, it’s also a potentially expensive and fattening option – so perhaps not a feasible long-term solution.
6. Search and you will find
Google, with its extensive knowledge, is your friend and will deliver endless possibilities for office space. Check websites such as Gumtree and community forums* for more local office space options. People will often advertise less expensive (although usually rather less impressive) office rental options here.
*If you are using websites like these it’s important you take care whenever money is changing hands as there are no safeguards for fraud on these kinds of unregulated platforms.
7. It’s who you know, you know?
Get out into the real world and start talking – you’ll be amazed at what opportunities will arise through networking with a wide range of people. Asking fellow businesses if they have, or know of anyone who has, spare cheap office space for rent is a great way to get in the door.
With so many startups currently establishing themselves within London, there is a positive community spirit connecting local businesses. People want to help where they can so all you have to do is ask.
8. Tweet tweet
If you haven’t already discover how useful social media is for connecting people, businesses and communities then you’re missing out. Twitter, Facebook and Instagram are online worlds of opportunity and making connections with fellow startups could help you find that perfect office space.
Search for hashtags and conversations about office spaces #officeporn in London and you will find people both looking for and advertising desks throughout the city.
9. Impress your clients
While working from your bedroom may be the perfect solution for you, you will often need a professional space in which to meet clients. You can rent meeting rooms throughout London for a wide range of time periods and rental prices.
Meeting rooms come with a variety of services and facilities – from tea and coffee, to projector screens and catering – there’s something to suit every budget and requirement. The best thing is that there are meeting rooms available across every corner of the city so no matter where you want to meet your client, there is bound to be a space available.
10. Keeping things virtual
Virtual office services are increasing in popularity as startups discover the benefits of being able to work remotely while also maintaining a centralised location.
Virtual offices allow you to have a postal address (this can be particularly useful for freelancers using hot desking spaces), a receptionist, phone answering and letter opening services, as well as access to meeting rooms in a London based location.
Different providers offer a variety of services and costs for virtual offices so shop around and find one that suits your needs.
So with all of these affordable office options, there’s no excuse not to move out of your basement and into something a little more professional.