The way we work is changing. The days of the time consuming commute to a fixed-hours, fixed location job are numbered, the rigid 9-5 are numbered. Businesses everywhere are becoming more agile, lean and adaptable. In particular, smaller businesses are increasingly moving away from conventional workspaces into flexible, simple and accessible premises – in the City of London alone, around 70% of serviced office space is occupied by SMEs.
But just why are these young, small or growing businesses so attracted to non-traditional means of setting up shop? Here are five reasons why SMEs are ditching their conventional offices.
1. Increased flexibility
If your business is growing, the future can sometimes look uncertain. Traditional rental agreements can last years, and if things suddenly start to take off, you just might not have the space for the new hires you need to meet demand. Even worse, if business drops off, you could be stuck paying rent that’s barely covered by your revenue.
Serviced offices, on the other hand, are often far more flexible when it comes to short-term leases, as well as when upgrading or downgrading to match your levels of trade. So until you find yourself in a stable, predictable growth pattern, it’s often a safer bet to go with the more flexible option.
2. An instant set-up
There’s a whole lot more to establishing an office than just signing the lease. You’ll need furniture, phone lines, internet and printers – and that’s a whole lot of hassle for an entrepreneur who’s trying to focus on the business itself.
But with a serviced office, the essentials are almost always ready to go, and you can often sign up and move in on the same day. That makes it perfect for helping small businesses to react quickly to their own fast growth: it’s no good securing a huge new contract if you need to wait for months to upgrade your workspace.
3. Reduced admin
You’re a business owner, not an office manager. You don’t want to spend half your working week sifting through electricity bills, dealing with a cleaning company or trying to get the printer fixed. Conventional offices usually come with a huge amount of laborious upkeep – and unless you’re prepared to sacrifice your time and your business’s progress, you’re probably better off letting someone else do it.
With a serviced office, all of the mundane and irritating tasks are usually taken care of. Your calls can be answered, your documents can be scanned and copied, and you won’t have to worry about who’s emptying the bins at night.
4. Better business connections
It’s a wearisome cliché, but it really is about who you know, not what you know. Conventional office occupancy can often be an isolating experience. You could be sharing a building with other completely unrelated enterprises – or you could be sharing it with no one at all.
Conversely, serviced offices can put you in touch with similar businesses with the same goals and challenges, and with this network of useful relationships, your business is better able to grow and thrive.
5. A more professional image
For many small businesses, getting long-term office space in a prime location is simply out of the question. You don’t know where you’ll be in a year’s time, and so committing to high-priced premises just doesn’t make good business sense. But with an easy-in, easy-out option, the dream of an impressive address in the heart of your industry becomes entirely possible.
On top of that, you’ll also find it easier to project the right image to your clients. A professional receptionist, a well-maintained building and up-to-date facilities are usually all a standard part of the package – which means it’s far easier to look big without all that extra effort.
These are just five reasons why flexible workspace is taking off amongst the dynamic SME and entrepreneurial community. Persisting with the traditional commute to the office is increasingly looking like wasted time, wasted productivity and – given yearly train price increases – wasted money. Smart businesses are already benefitting from alternative ways of working.