A Helping Hand
If the idea of a permanent relocation doesn’t float your boat, or the cost of committing to a long-term contract sends your risk barometer sky high, the use of serviced offices may be the answer.
Being free to run a business without the financial or management burden that comes with traditional office rental will be attractive to some companies, especially as the economic uncertainty is forcing companies to be more cautious.
“In the past year companies have been using serviced offices to reduce their exposure to property risk and give them more flexibility,” says John Spencer, chief executive of MWB Business Exchange, which has serviced units on King Street in central Manchester and in the newly refurbished Trident One building near the airport.
“This is, in part, as a result of increased volatility due to the credit crunch, which has lead organisations to find ways to control costs and limit liabilities. Demand has also remained buoyant from the small business and start-up markets, which require the flexibility serviced offices provide.”
Flexibility is touted as one of the main draws of serviced facilities because they remove the need to commit to long-term arrangements, and most providers have a large network of available space across the country. “Serviced offices offer companies of all sizes an incomparable level of flexibility by allowing them to expand and contract at short notice, only paying for the space they use,” says Spencer “This means businesses can flex with the market and are not left with expensive empty space and property liabilities,” adds Spencer.
Market-leading supplier of workspace solutions Regus has ten business centres in the North West including six in and around Manchester. Recent additions to its portfolio include the business centre in Liverpool’s Exchange Flags Buildings and Oxygen 8’s Business Centre in Preston. According to UK sales director Kurt Mroncz, working with a global brand enables smaller businesses to take advantage of the purchasing power of much larger organisations.
“This includes discounts on technology office supplies and local courier services, all of which could be out of the reach of smaller businesses individually,” he says. In May 2008 Regus Purchasing Group was also launched, which gives discounts to Regus customers and their staff across a range of products.
Aside from the kudos of branding, another advantage is the availability of support staff, which can reduce costs and allows workers to concentrate solely on running a business. “As well as this flexibility, serviced offices allow businesses to enjoy services they may not otherwise be able to, such as fully serviced reception desks, a call-answering service and refreshment facilities,” says Spencer. “They also take away the hassle of maintenance, cleaning and general administration, which are run by the office operator instead of the tenant.”
But what’s all this going to cost? Although businesses may be attracted by short-term leases during tough times, they will still watch their bottom line. Spencer says do not fear as the business model will always be cost-effective. “Serviced offices are price competitive as rates are inclusive of services,” he says. “In most cases, you don’t need as much space as you would with conventional lease.”