The rapid growth of startups and small businesses in the UK has seen a significant change in the way people work. Research conducted by UHY Hacker Young recently has revealed that the UK is leading start up business growth in Western economies and is sitting second to China. This is considered to be a reflection of the reduction in taxes and the ease of setting up a business in the UK.
Virgin Startups has also highlighted the role High Growth Small Businesses (HGSB) have on the UK economy, creating around 4,500 jobs every week. These businesses can experience a drastic fluctuation in staff numbers in short periods of time – moving from one person working from a home kitchen, to three contractors to a fully functioning small business in a matter of months.
A new way of searching
Finding an appropriate location to work is one of the many challenges faced by startups and small businesses. While previously a business would look for a private office space through a leasing agent and sign their life away on long term contracts, now companies are demanding a higher level of flexibility and services as part of an office set up.
Heading to leasing agents is no longer the best way to find an office space and people are increasingly searching online platforms such as HubbleHQ to find the best space for them. These platforms allow for greater flexibility in contracts, you speak directly to the office owner and you don’t have to deal with any agents.
A different kind of space
Office spaces are no longer just empty concrete boxes waiting to be filled at the highest rental price – they are now designed to suit the needs of businesses and offer a wide range of services and facilities. Many offices now proactively encourage networking and collaboration between businesses working within the space and provide meetings, workshops and after work functions to help grow connections. Sharing a space with other businesses provides you with unrivalled access to professional expertise and knowledge, as well as some great friendships.
Of course, open plan spaces lack privacy and don’t suit all businesses – you can also choose to share office space with your own dedicated area, or rent an entirely private office with no other businesses connected.
Depending on how your business functions, how many people form your team and the sorts of additional facilities you need access to will determine the type of office space you choose to work in.
There are a huge range of co-working office spaces through central and outer London, each offering a different work environment, services and contract type. You can choose to hot desk (turn up on the day and see what space is free) or you can often rent a dedicated desk space. You share facilities such as a kitchen, bathroom, meeting rooms and breakout areas with people from a wide range of businesses. Services such as internet, water and electricity are usually included in the cost of the desk rental.
Co-working spaces are great for newly formed startups and freelancers who need to get out of the house and into the real world. It will provide instant connections with other people working in similar or completely different industries and can lead to some exciting business opportunities.
2. Shared office
A shared office is a smaller work space that is often owned or being sub-leased by one business. Similar to co-working spaces, you will share meeting rooms and kitchen spaces but the difference is that you will usually have access to a larger dedicated desk area. It is like having your own private office right next door to another business, but you also hang out in the lounge area at lunch time.
3. Private office
While sharing an office with other companies has its perks, it also brings some challenges such as a lack of privacy and less control over your work environment. Larger, more established businesses may be looking for a more self-contained space to work from and renting a private office is the best solution.
Renting a private office through an agent usually requires you to sign long term contracts that you may not be able or willing to commit to. Through online platforms such as Hubble, you can find shorter term contracts that provide you with more flexibility and access to additional services and facilities.
Changing how we work
Small businesses aren’t the only ones recognising the need to create office spaces that inspire and motivate staff. Large corporate companies such as Google, Facebook and Apple have been creating unique and fun spaces for their employees to work in and offering flexible work environments to suit individual needs.
In an article in the Harvard Business Review, the vice president of Samsung Semiconductor, Scott Birnhaum is quoted as saying, “The most creative ideas aren’t going to come while sitting in front of your monitor.” Corporations are removing office cubicles, encouraging staff to move away from their desks and providing opportunities for interaction and engagement. It is in these breakout spaces where the best ideas are sparked.
The article continues to discuss the ideas of Jon Fredrik Baksaas, CEO of Norwegian telecommunications company Telenor, and how he sees office space not as real estate but as a communication tool. By designing an office with work spaces that can be altered to suit the requirements of a discussion or simply turned into a relaxation zone, increases the communication levels between staff and results in a more productive and energised workplace. The outcome of this is greater work flow, better ideas and a higher production rate.
The future office space
The revolution of office space is continuing as more research into the most productive, creative and efficient ways of working is undertaken. The design, layout and functionality of workspaces in the future is unknown, however the current trend towards more focus on the importance of a work/life balance is a great sign. More pingpong tables for everyone!