Weigh up the differences between these two very different types of London office space and discover which is the right option for you and your business…
I’ve been working within the exciting and fast paced world of flexible office space for many years now. A recurring theme is the high number of businesses who begin their search for new office space, insisting that they will only consider conventionally leased office space, yet actually end up taking a serviced office in London instead, having been persuaded that it’s the best – often only – fit for their needs.
Much of this stems from a lack of understanding of how the conventional office market in London works – and how the market has become tighter in recent years, combined with misconceptions (some would say prejudices!) about the quality and cost of serviced offices.
Breaking through the myths and misconceptions about London Office Space
In my experience, many people associate conventional office space with these terms: high quality, personalised and control. On the other hand, serviced office space tends to be associated with generic, low grade, but expensive. In the minds of many businesses, conventional is always better and cheaper than serviced.
These associations and conclusions are not only confused, but also fundamentally wrong! Such high profile companies as Twitter and Google both took serviced space when they first set up their London operations – and they were most certainly not slumming it! The quality divide isn’t between serviced and conventional offices – there is a wide quality range to be found in both types of space – from low grade, poorly maintained space, to plush executive suites.
Nevertheless the myth that “conventional is good, serviced is bad” persists. Such is the stigma associated with the term “serviced office”, this website consciously tries to avoid using it, preferring the term “managed” or “flexible” instead. This confused thinking makes it impossible for prospective tenants to make informed choices about their new office.
Helping my clients make educated decisions
On a daily basis, I come across businesses that struggle to understand which route best suits their needs. Much of my initial work with new clients involves educating them about the realities of London office space. Providing they are prepared to accept this guidance, they quickly find themselves better equipped to make an informed choice to secure an office to suit their needs.
With this in mind, I decided to write a series of blog posts explaining the key differences between serviced and conventional space and then demonstrating why the former suits one set of business criteria and the latter serves another. Then I’ll give you 6 questions you should ask yourself about your business before deciding which option is right for you. Finally I’ll give you a bullet point checklist to help you make that decision.
Horses for courses
Breaking through all the half-truths and misconceptions, it’s important to emphasise that neither is better than the other: it’s horses for courses.
Interestingly, in my experience there is seldom a grey area: when listening to a prospective client for the first time, nine times out of ten times I can immediately establish whether they should be looking for a conventional or a serviced office.
What are the main differences between conventional and serviced office space?
Conventional office space is usually leased in shell condition, often with a minimum lease term of 5 years, sometimes (but increasingly rarely) incorporating a break clause on the 3rd anniversary. Tenants have the flexibility to fit out the space according to their needs. They also have control over branding, design and furnishing – allowing their premises to reflect their business personality. They also have responsibility for choosing telecoms supplier, ISP and most other services.
Serviced offices offer an all inclusive fully furnished solution with telecoms, internet and power all included in the monthly rent. Office space is available on flexible, short-term licence agreements with terms built around the needs of the tenant. The tenant loses some control over their space but in return gains convenience and flexibility.
In part 2 of this blog post – I’ll be giving you the 6 key questions you should ask yourself before choosing between a conventional lease and a serviced office.
In the meantime, please download our Serviced Office versus Conventional Lease Cost Report