Whether you’re moving from your home office to a co-working space or from a 6-person to a 20-person office (or bigger), the process is significantly different to finding a new home. With over 600 fast-growth companies in the West of England, and an even greater number of start-up businesses hot on their heels, I’ve asked some local experts for their ‘top tips’ for office relocation – and these are the 5 that made the cut.
If you’d like to learn about these tips and more, please join us at Engine Shed for a breakfast session hosted by Ashfords and Morton Property Consultants. RSVP via EventBrite here: https://office-space-hunt.eventbrite.co.uk
Ask yourself, ‘do you really need to move?’
There is a significant shortage of suitable, affordable office space in the region at the moment. If you can renovate your existing office or work with your landlord to find more space where you are that would be a much simpler option.
If you’re set on making a move, be clear on the brief and plan ahead.
Spend some time thinking about your ‘deal breakers’ from a space perspective – work through specific details on location, amount of space required, building specification and costs.
The process of securing a new building can take anywhere up to 12 months depending on what’s available and how much work is required – to reach a deal with the landlord and to fit-out the space.
Explore all the options
As a fast growth business, your options include:
- ‘Grow on’ space – offices which are managed by multi-occupancy managers. These often have more flexible terms than a full lease, and will be provided with phone lines and wifi amongst other perks. Many of these providers are plotted on this ecosystem map as orange ‘infrastructure’ pins. Some of these spaces are more ‘corporate’ than others – you’ll need to dedicate some time to visiting them and should assume that they may need up to 6 months lead time.
- Lease of new build/existing office space – most landlords will expect a 10 year lease agreement with a five year break. Office spaces in BS1 can command up to £35/sqft so be prepared to have a strong covenant and deep pockets. These buildings will need to be fitted out too so you’ll need to work that into your costs.
Put your ‘A Team’ together
Unlike finding a home, when finding an office, you will benefit greatly from appointing an agent to help conduct the search (for properties both on and off the market) and to advise on the level of risk involved per property.
You will also need to appoint a solicitor to help you negotiate the deal – there are over 15 common elements to a satisfactory lease including simple things like rent and lease term and more challenging issues like dilapidation and repair liability.
You might want to talk to some specialists to inform your plan too. The team at Invest Bristol and Bath are a great first stop if you’re bringing new jobs to the region and looking for a substantial space and Engine Shed will soon launch a ‘Property Adviser in Residence’ service so you can book a slot with an agent to find out more.
Making your new office feel like home
Once the deal is in solicitor’s hands it is time to start planning the move and fitout. Planning pays off here and a workplace interior advisor is well worth considering to ensure fixtures and fittings compliment each other and are installed correctly with limited snagging time.
Consider what you need in terms of telephone systems, and whether you need a shared data line or a private one. Also think about whether you need added security for either you or your clients that will be using the service.
This blog series tells the story of the Scale-up Enabler, Briony Phillips. Briony joined the Engine Shed team on a 1 year contract in June 2017 funded by Business West, Engine Shed, The University of Bristol and the West of England Growth Hub. This group have a shared ambition – first, to identify scale-up businesses in the West of England region and to better understand their challenges and second, to design, facilitate and support initiatives that will make it easier for businesses to scale-up more effectively – in the long term.
Links and information are correct as of February 2018.
Briony – Scale-up Enabler