Jamie Robotkin is our serviced office expert here at Find A London Office. He’s been specialising in the serviced office market for nearly 10 years. I spoke to him recently about some exciting developments in London’s serviced office world.
Michael: I know from my own experience that the serviced office market in London has evolved radically and rapidly over the last few years. Can you outline what the key changes have been?
Jamie: Well firstly that evolution has accelerated further in the last year. I’d say that London, alongside New York, now has the most advanced serviced office market in the world. Many more providers have entered the market creating a raft of new business centres in all locations across Central London. The choice is much greater – and the range far wider – than it was before. The diverse selection of offices on the market is unprecedented. And the range of costs is remarkably wide.
Remarkably wide range of serviced office options
Michael: So what is the cost range and what do you get for your money?
Jamie: Well, one of the key selling points of a fully serviced office is that the rent is all inclusive – so you’re not paying extra for office furniture, high speed internet and telecoms. A typical business centre will offer shared, coworking space, meeting room hire with video conferencing and virtual office services (if you are just looking for a Central London business address). At the lower end of the serviced office market, office rental covers these basic and functional business support services. And top end serviced offices include the type of facilities you’d find in a very smart hotel!
You can pay as little as £250 per person per month – for example on a hot desk in an open plan serviced office in Shoreditch. At the top end, you can pay as much as £1300 to £1500 per person per month – an executive suite in a serviced office in Mayfair, for example. So as you can see, the price range is huge! Which can be a bit daunting when you’re just starting out on your search.
However, if you know where and how to look, you can get almost exactly the serviced office you want, in the right location and at the right price.
Common misconceptions about serviced space are vanishing
Michael: So these developments fundamentally challenge the perception that a serviced office is a “one size fits all” offer?
Jamie: Absolutely! Although that was never really the case. Historically, serviced offices were just pretty straightforward space, but there was always a variety in quality. Despite that, some companies would turn their noses up at the serviced route as somehow the lesser option (compared to a conventional leased office). But that perception has now been utterly blown out of the water. Traditional serviced office space is still available for those that want it. However, office design and environment is now of paramount importance to many modern businesses. Many of the new providers would describe their offer as boutique and contemporary. Splendid designer furniture is common place in these types of offices. Some modern office buildings have impressive roof terraces, break-out areas and eateries. As I said earlier, quite like a hotel in many ways.
Prejudices against serviced space have fallen by the wayside. Companies who would never have considered a serviced office a decade ago are now queuing up
Yes, these offices are more expensive, but companies who want these high-end facilities will happily pay the higher cost. You couldn’t easily set up such facilities in your own conventional office with a traditional lease. So it’s not hard to see why older prejudices against serviced space have fallen by the wayside. Companies who would never have considered serviced space a decade ago are now queuing up.
Flexibility and ease of acquisition are key
Michael: So that explains why the serviced office market has expanded so rapidly…
Jamie: Partly yes – but it’s not the whole story. Yes it gives companies access to the extensive office facilities I’ve just mentioned. But combine that with speed and ease of acquisition and it’s a compelling offer. Compared with taking a conventional 3 to 5 year lease, you can be up and running in your new office space very, very quickly, with the minimum of fuss.
Legal costs are minimal or non-existent, there’s no time consuming and high cost fit-out ( which you have to remove when you leave ). It’s only a short term commitment (sometimes month to month) – offering maximum flexibility and minimum risk. Perfect both if you’re startup or an established company looking to grow your business. Crucially, there is usually only one, all-inclusive monthly bill, including rent, service charge, rates, cleaners, telecoms, internet and other digital services etc. That is a considerable administrative and accounting time-saver.
Corporates will now also take serviced office space
Michael: I’ve noticed that these days, even big corporates take serviced space now. That would have been unheard of back in the day…
Jamie: Indeed. That’s just another example of how the serviced office market has evolved. Larger, established companies can also take advantage of the flexible office space – allowing for easy expansion of space as and when needed. Sometimes corporates or public sector bodies will take serviced space on flexible terms for time-limited projects. They can also take advantage of a collaborative office environment as much as start ups do. Networking opportunities with like-minded businesses are far more common in a flexible, shared workspace.
Many of these corporates have serviced offices in The City of London which explains why there are now nearly 190 business centres in this district alone – which represents massive and rapid growth.
Sometimes the best serviced office options are hidden
Michael: This all sounds fabulous. The cynic in me wonders what the downside might be…
Jamie: There is a huge amount of choice now available. So it can be overwhelming for newbies looking for office space in London. You’ve probably heard of some of the high profile providers – Regus, WeWork and the rest. However, this only scratches the surface of what is out there. In fact, the vast majority of availability is from independent operators you’ve never heard of. So when you’re looking for office space, you will probably never find these excellent opportunities. To make an educated decision and get the very best value for money, you need to see what these independents have to offer. Importantly, they can be considerably cheaper that the big boys.
The vast majority of serviced office availability is from independent operators you’ve never heard of. So when you’re looking for office space, you will probably never find these excellent opportunities on your own
And that’s where I come in. To get my help, firstly tell Find a London Office what you’re looking for – location, number of workstations, your budget and the type of space you need. I will then quickly compile a shortlist of options to match your brief and email it to you ASAP. Once you’ve browsed the options and chosen which offices you want to view, I will then arrange all the appointments to suit you. Once you’ve seen them all and come to a decision, I will use my serviced office market knowledge to get you a fair deal.
Michael: And what do you charge for this service?
Jamie: Nothing. It’s free of charge for tenants!
Michael: My cynicism was clearly misplaced. There really is no downside!
Find out more
You can find out more about our serviced office offer here. Or to cut straight to the chase, just tell us what you’re looking for, so Jamie can get started.
Serviced Offices Location Guides
We have serviced office location guides for each of our 19 London locations:
For more general information about flexible office space, please see our Serviced Offices in London guide.