How to choose the right location for your office
15th June 2018
While businesses are increasingly able to operate over the internet, the physical location of your office can still be make or break. The decision on where you end up needs to be fully-informed, based on a complex array of needs and requirements. In order to choose the perfect serviced office for your business, you’ll need to consider the following:
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- Where is your main customer base?
- Are your competitors in the same area?
- Have you conducted a neighbourhood assessment?
- Does the area have good transport links?
- Does the location enhance your brand image?
- Will you be close to a strong talent pool?
- Does the location match your ambitions?
Securing a customer or client base means choosing a location that works for them too. You do not want to make your clients trudge miles and miles to reach you, spending a pretty penny in the process. Not only would this make doing business with you less appealing, but clients may instead choose to take their custom to competitors they view as more convenient alternatives. A cheaper, out-of-town office may seem like a good way of cutting costs, but you need to think about whether this will make up for a potential loss of clients.
Another thing to consider is that certain regions are naturally associated with particular industries. For instance, if you run a business within the financial sector, you might look for an office in London’s Square Mile or in Edinburgh, both of which are major international banking, investment and insurance centres. Alternatively, if you are a creative business, both Manchester and Marylebone have established cultural and fashion scenes.
It’s not uncommon for a business to surround itself with other enterprises in the same industry or sector. For example, in the past, London’s Fleet Street was synonymous with British journalism. Today, California’s Silicon Valley and London’s Silicon Roundabout are good examples of where tech startups thrive and where they are more concentrated than anywhere else.
The reasons are threefold. Firstly, proximity encourages greater competition, giving your business the motivation to be the best. If your business is able to win a competitive advantage over rival companies, then choosing a location near your competitors could prove beneficial, especially if you are able to ‘piggyback’ on their existing trade.
Equally, sector clustering establishes a local pool of skilled talent suited to the industry, and encourages sector-specific suppliers and auxiliary services to set up nearby. Choosing an office location within a self-sustaining micro-economy will reap huge rewards in the long run.
Furthermore, strategic partnerships happen more easily when the companies involved are local to each other. Often, the greatest results are achieved in dynamic, collaborative environments and, as a result, shared workspaces are becoming a much more popular option for modern businesses. These create customisable spaces for philosophically and culturally compatible ventures. Our serviced office package comes with access to our Club Spaces, which include a collaboration zone that encourages this type of co-operation between different businesses.
As well as vetting office spaces, it is important to evaluate the surrounding area. One reason for this is to ascertain whether it is a safe area for your business or not. Whilst a discount office may sound great at first, it won’t turn out to be so much of a bargain if your office is robbed within the first month of you signing the lease. Not only could this cost you financially—in terms of stolen equipment and liabilities—but could lead to staff being hurt or intimidated, marking an overall lowering of morale.
Even this sense of fear can have serious ramifications; studies have discovered that feeling unsafe can cause people to develop anxiety and other mental health issues. Finding a safe office location is therefore imperative. You can assess the safety of a location by talking with nearby business owners, consulting with local police or looking at crime statistics for the local area. This can be done online by simply entering the postcode for the area you are looking to move to.
The local area surrounding your office is also an important consideration. Your business’s location is about more than just where you work; nearby bars, restaurants and landmarks create a sense of community and fun. Having nearby places to get lunch and socialise after work can make a huge difference to staff morale. Being in close proximity to amenities will also provide you with easy access to places that you can impress clients with. Looking up TripAdvisor reviews of what your target area has to offer and visiting it yourself will enable you to ascertain what kind of environment it is.
You should be considering offices in locations with good transport links, like our serviced offices in Birmingham’s well-connected Snow Hill or Reading’s Green Park area, or our London City offices. We have already touched upon the problems you can face if you are too far away from clients, and this issue can again arise if your location has poor transport links.
As well catering to your clients, you should also make it as easy as possible for your staff to get to the office. Commuting is physically and emotionally draining, and can impact on the productivity and wellbeing of your employees. According to a study by Vitality Health, workers who commute for less than 30 minutes a day gain an added week’s worth of productivity in a year in comparison to those who commute for an hour or more.
Longer commuters are also 33% more likely to experience depression, as well as stress and financial troubles. The more that this can be avoided, the better. You therefore need to look at whether there are train stations, tube stops, main roads, bus routes, cycle routes and airports (for international clients) near your office.
The location of your business can either enhance or inhibit its reputation and image. For any company, locating yourself in your town’s central business district can give you an air of success and prosperity. Potential investors, clients, employees and business partners are excited by prestigious locations. There’s also the possibility that the location will actually inspire and improve your work. For example, design and creative industries use the inspiration they derive from their environments. Cultural centres like London’s East End and Glasgow are hot-spots for this.
For remote workers and home businesses, the prestige of a city centre address can still be achieved with our virtual offices across a range of city centre locations. In the event you require a physical space to conduct your business on an ad hoc basis, you can also rent one of our meeting rooms, and your clients need never know you don’t have a permanent base.
Make sure you check out the skill base in the area and whether it can fulfil your needs. If you are relying on experienced staff for your business to succeed, you should only be looking at areas where there is a strong pool of talent. Employees are likely to be your most important asset, so picking somewhere where high calibre talent is in short supply could be detrimental to your business. Get in contact with recruitment agencies when scouting out certain regions, as many will be willing to send you local CVs to help you gauge the local market. Many of these agencies will only charge if you interview and hire someone. Alternatively, posting job ads will rapidly give you an impression of the standard of talent in a certain area. There are numerous sites you can post these ads on, including LinkedIn.
You should also be thinking about futureproofing your workforce. Don’t underestimate your company’s potential—plan for a bright and successful future. Think about choosing a location with universities nearby, especially universities deemed as being in the country’s top tier. A 2014 report by Gartner discovered a positive correlation between tier one universities and the talent of their graduates. Being located near these universities gives you access to young and exciting talent, who can refresh and revitalise your business by bringing in new and innovative ideas.
If you have big plans for your business and are looking to expand quickly, you’re better off finding a location for your office that both suits your current and anticipated needs. There is no point finding office space, only to have to move out months later because you’ve already outgrown it; it’s better to start with extra space than end up with not enough. That said, do not optimistically bite off more than you can chew by renting out a property that unsustainably eats away at your funds. Ensure you have a clear plan to grow your company, and that you opt for somewhere you know you’ll be able to afford.
If you are ambitious and want your venture to hit the big-time, you should be looking at offices in bigger cities. These will be much more conducive to your aspirations for many of the reasons we have already touched upon, like access to more talent, enhanced brand image and proximity to competitors and allies.
With the importance of finding the right office location imperative to the success of a business, it is well worth spending time and effort doing so. Take into consideration the questions above to find the perfect office location for your own venture.
For help finding a suitable location for your business, contact Landmark today. We’ll be more than happy to help.