Do you want to work from home, work ‘hot desking’, use a shared office space or studio, or work from client’s premises? Deciding where you want to work is a crucial decision, especially depending on affordability, availability, credibility, your specific requirements, as well as productivity and general well being you can gain from the environment or people you work with!
1. What are your basic practical requirements?
Before you begin your search, it is important to make a wishlist of your specific requirements, and identify which of these are most important to you. What is essential and a ‘must have’, and what would be ‘a great to have’?
What do you plan to use the space for (i.e. office space, creative dirty space, retail, storage)?
How much square footage do you need?
Do you need water and gas supplies, a good source of natural light?
- How much storage space do you need? (Don’t underestimate this one!)
- Is there a kitchen facility/place to get food?
- Do you need (access to) a meeting space for clients?
Is the space insulated (and therefore not baking hot in the summer and ice cold in the winter)?
Can you get equipment or machinery and your work easily in and out of the door or window, and are the floors strong enough to take the weight of machinery?
2. Where do you want to be?
In terms of geographical location, consider how and how far you want to travel to your home or to your clients or suppliers. Is public transport good (and safe), or is there plenty of parking space (for you and potential clients or suppliers)?
How important is the location for your clients (for some people being in the middle of Shoreditch and having that postcode is crucial for their credibility)?
How far are you from your suppliers or peers? How far do clients really want to travel?
How safe is the workspace on a wintery afternoon or when you need to work late at night? Not just for yourself, but also to avoid burglaries.
Check out the council rates and insurance rates as certain postcodes or councils are far more expensive than others.
3. Do you want to work by yourself or with others?
Do you want to work on your own, share with others or at least be close to similar businesses? Working together can help share costs, but also can offer support and help with generating ideas and learning best practice, as well as offering networking opportunities.
Some larger or specialist business premises offer a reception, meeting rooms, business development training. Some creative studio spaces offer open studios or other exhibiton or networking opportunities, which can be really useful when starting out.
4. How much can you afford?
Take into account not just the rental or mortgage repayments but also all the running costs such as business rates, tax (such as VAT), electricity, water, heating, insurance, service charge and any legal agreements.
Business rates can really differ between councils, and sometimes councils provide special discounts for certain areas. Once you have done this you have your budget and can work from there.
Some business spaces offer special rates for business start-ups, and some councils provide discounts on business rates to certain businesses. Also if you work in a deprived or specified area you might be more likely to get funding from local councils or other public funded programmes.
5. What type of space are you looking for?
- Desk space: if you want to work with others in the same space but can’t afford renting your own full time space, then a desk space might be an option. You basically rent one or two desks and pay a monthly fee that normally includes all the overhead costs. A great example of this is B-Hive for female entrepreneurs across the UK, and Club Workspace who focus on creative & media freelancers and are opening various locations throughout London.
- Professionally run workspaces: Here you find spaces of various sizes to suit your needs, some are shared spaces others are for individuals, and some work spaces are specifically aimed at a sector (i.e. Cockpit Arts or Craft Central for craftspeople) These often provide administrative support and sometimes training or networking opportunities (for example Open Studios for creative venues).
- Retail space: If you want to open a shop it is incredibly important that you are in a suitable location as potential shoppers will only buy if you are close to the action (unless you are ‘a destination’ shop). Be very sure that you are able to open the shop on a very regular basis, and calculate the additional costs of staffing and retail space. Often it is cheaper to start with a more traditional space and have regular ‘open days’ than to run a shop.
6. How much time will you spend there?
How often will you be in your studio? Studio space is one of the most expensive overheads, so it might be an idea to share (initially) with others, or to make sure that you find a space nearby if you are planning to work part time.
7. What do you need to ask the workspace owner?
It is important to get as much information as possible from the leaseholder before you make a decision and to compare different potential spaces. You will need to know if you have to sign a lease (recommended!), how long it is valid for, what is included (i.e. heating, lighting), and what additional costs there might be (i.e. VAT, business rates).
You also need to ask who’s responsible for repairs and whether there are any restrictions on the type of equipment or materials you can use. Find out how secure the building is and if you can have 24-hour access. Other considerations include:
- Do they offer any administration or training support?
- Are there any noise restrictions?
- How will you be able to heat the space?
- How much are the business rates?
It is also a good idea to speak to other tenants about their experiences of working in the building to find out if there are any issues you should be aware of.
You also might like how and where to find a suitable (international) workspace.
Have you got any additional suggestions to find the right space? Do you have any questions? Please write down in the comments below, and we will respond to you asap.