In the current economic climate, it has never been more important to find ways to make your business more efficient and cost-effective. Office costs are one of the key areas where you can make savings. In the latest in our Business On a Budget series, here are my tips:
1. Research office space online
Well thought-out research on the internet will give you a very good idea of what office space is available, and at what price, which could prove invaluable as you progress your search.
Look out for Office Genie, a great place to start if you are a freelancer, or new business start-up. You can find desk space in a variety of different office set-ups there, or try Office Broker, which has a full listings service and account managers to broker deals.
Gumtree classified ads could also prove to be a useful resource – searching for private listings can help you avoid increased costs, such as higher rates from agents.
2. Learn to negotiate
Many searches for office space will end up with some kind of negotiation, either with an office broker or estate agent. It could be valuable to hone your skills, especially if you’re sourcing desk space on a more permanent basis. There are a few tricks to the trade which will help your negotiation:
- There is good availability in today’s climate, so you don’t have to walk away from tough negotiations or put all your eggs in one basket. Have some patience and test whether the owners of the office or office brokers are keen to secure business from you.
- If you do need to secure some desk space quickly, urgency may work to your advantage. Telling an agent that you can take the space quickly if the landlord is willing to negotiate on price could prove fruitful .
- If the landlord has a variety of empty spaces they are paying business rates on, this could help with your negotiations.
- Blame outside constraints such as shareholders not being willing to move on price, and see if the owner will be more flexible on the rent. If a price reduction is a no-no, then you could instead try for some added extras, such as getting your telecoms costs covered in the rent.
- Office brokers will traditionally add 10-15% onto your costs, so if there is availability in your area, it could pay to go direct to a landlord.
3. Desk space creates savings
While an office may be on your business wish list, the benefits of hiring desk space instead should not be overlooked. For start-ups, small businesses or people working virtually, desk hire is a viable alternative to a shiny brand new office. To find available space you can look at collaborative/sharing websites such as Desk Wanted, Rentadesk, Office Genie and Space On Tap for national and international listings.
Each website can offer desk spaces and packages to suit different needs, so you could also find something like Central Working, Innovation Warehouse or Tech Hub to be the right combination of space, community and creativity.
If you find a space you like, be sure to check how flexible the contracts are, when the space is accessible and what’s included in the package.
4. Stay within your budget
Offices can be expensive and are not always needed when there is a list of centrally located alternatives, should you need meeting space or want somewhere to woo your clients.
If you are likely to use their facilities often for meetings, then your ongoing costs may be reduced by joining a business club.
5. Enterprise Zones
These can be ideal locations for businesses, and offer the opportunity to cut your business bills and rates. Look up the locations of Enterprise Zones here.
6. What about serviced offices or sub-lets?
If you are looking to save money on office rental, then sub-letting can prove to be a winning solution for everyone involved. Some of the sites we’ve linked to in this piece cover this, so look out for listings.
7. Abandon the office
Why not embrace the virtual world, and make the most of the opportunities to run your business from any global location? Remote working has never been easier , especially with services from companies like Skype, and PowWowNow offering conference call services.
If you need caffeine to fuel your creative juices, then you’ll be pleased to know that coffee shop culture has never been better. If you want to get away from your workplace, check out Work Snug for your nearest WiFi enabled, coffee and cake-stocked hangout! It’s also good news that roaming dongles are going down in price all the time.
There is also one final option to consider- office space in the home. Homeworking may not be for everyone, but embrace it and you will save a small fortune.
How do you keep your office costs down?