officebroker.com’s guide to surviving a recession
A recession or economic downturn can prove disastrous for some businesses – for others it can be merely a hurdle to overcome. However it’s important to focus not just on ‘getting through’, but also to gain from the experience, and even to turn it to your advantage.
How can office space help?
Where office space is concerned, relocating to a different office in order to help cut overheads will benefit your business now, and also in the long-run. Saving money is always a welcome feat, but you don’t have to compromise on office quality to do so. Many serviced offices in out-of-town areas, away from the more central and traditionally expensive spots, are situated in accessible locations and – with tight competition between office providers – are often refurbished to an excellent standard in order to attract tenants.
For example, officebroker.com consultant for Greater London, Stephen Preston, says: “Being in Greater London means that rates are lower than that of Central London, but means companies are still close to the heart of business.” In an article charting the popularity of Greater London, he also refers to the abundance of larger and more open plan office spaces available in out-of-town areas, which can provide a more pleasant working environment for tenants.
If you’re leasing office space, consider changing to a serviced office agreement by way of keeping rent, rates and office maintenance more manageable. A serviced office provides rates and services all rolled into one monthly payment, which means you’re not responsible for office maintenance, repairs and the like. It also removes any unexpected costs that arise from being responsible for a building’s upkeep.
In addition, serviced offices are much more flexible, with license terms typically much shorter than the average lease. It gives you the option to test a new location before committing to a longer contract. If you’re currently tied into a lengthy lease, you could look into the option of sub-letting – which allows you to rent the building you lease to another occupier. This then frees you up to move to another office.
What do the experts say?
Of course, there are many other methods of beating a recession besides moving to new office space. A recent event run by the British Council for Offices, NextGen, brought business experts in front of a 50-strong crowd of eager young property professionals, who heard how to weather the storm and survive an economic crisis.
“The old advice of ‘keep your head down and follow through’ is useful, but also in today’s environment it is imperative to keep networking and talking to people,” says Gerald Kaye, Development Director at Helical Bar. He stresses that the way forwards is to network, “with the aim of getting something out of those conversations.”
“Don’t let obsessive cost-cutting stand in the way of maximizing your revenues from your existing customer base or your battle to find new customers,” he says. “Go out there and get new business – as this is the quickest way to pull through!”
This is a key part of both sustaining and driving new business. However, another speaker at the British Council for Offices NextGen event, Chris Hiatt, International Director at Jones Lang LaSalle, added that not all progress is shown by forward steps.
“I have worked through five recessions,” he says, “and one common theme I see is that not everything happens in a straight line – often there are opportunities to move sideways as a means of moving forwards.” He also emphasizes the need to maintain “a strong relationship with colleagues, peers and clients” to help maintain that forward momentum.
Finally, Managing Director at Avanta, David Alberto, adds: “There are huge opportunities to take if you’re prepared to work hard and make deals happen,” signalling that an economic downturn can lead to many businesses entering into a period of fierce competition, which usually leads to more favorable terms and price-cuts for clients.
How can businesses plan for the worst?
The old saying ‘what doesn’t break you will make you stronger’ applies during an economic decline – giving the opportunity for businesses to emerge from a decline with increased confidence, experience, and a well-tested contingency plan.
In fact, a contingency plan can be the saving grace of a company – be it a fully-fledged international corporation, a small local enterprise or a start-up business. As reported by Startups.co.uk, a website for small businesses containing expert contributions from the world of business, a contingency plan can mean the difference between sinking and swimming:
“If you’ve got a business continuity plan in place you should be able to get on with a normal service for your clients and customers as soon as possible.”
A contingency plan can be anything from backing up your vital company information, such as client and supplier databases, to simply having procedures in place to divert phone calls if a problem occurs with your phone network.
Different plans apply to different companies, depending on the nature of the business. For example, if your entire infrastructure and trading is based online, what happens if your website or web server crashes? If your office building is flooded, how can you return to trading in the shortest amount of time possible? What if your workforce is weakened by a bout of the ‘flu – can you quickly put Plan B into action and spread the work out appropriately?
Any business that enters a period of economic uncertainty has the chance to survive and prosper, but success ultimately depends on how creative, determined and resourceful you can be in the face of adversity.
If you’re part of a business and you are considering changing your office space, be it to cut costs, move closer to the opposition, or to re-shape your workforce, visit officebroker.com to find and compare offices all over the UK, the US, and globally. We offer a free service, and our team of experts are on hand to help you every step of the way.