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Types of office space

There is a variety of types of office space on the market – ranging from a single desk in a shared office to your own building.  To work out what arrangement would best suit your organisation you need to consider how quickly you need to move, how long a commitment you can make, the level of services you need, and the flexibility you need to expand or contract.

Your options

There are broadly four types of office space available to rent on the market:

As the market becomes more flexible, the boundaries between these options are blurring – but they provide a useful starting point.

There is, of course, also the option to buy.  If your organisation is very secure and you are looking for a much more permanent home, you might consider purchasing your own property. This is most suitable for larger organisations which are looking to expand and enhance their profile, and have the funding to invest in an asset. Find out more about buying your own property.

To determine the best option for your organisation, you need to consider the following questions:
  • how long a commitment can you make?
  • how quickly do you need to move in?
  • what range of services do you want provided?
  • how much flexibility do you need to expand or contract?

    The table below is designed to help you decide which options might be best for you.

    Type of space

    Speed of move

    Commitment

    Range of services

    Flexibility to expand

     

    Whole building

     

     Slow

     High

     Low

     Low

     

    Self- contained

     

     Slow

     High

     Medium

     Medium

     

    Shared office

     

     Medium

     Medium

     Medium

     Medium

     

    Serviced office

     

     Fast

     Low

     High

     High

     

    Whole building

    Taking on a whole building will suit your organisation if you need your premises to have a higher profile and want to have greater control over the whole of the premises.  The downside is that you will have to commit time and resources to the day-to-day management of the whole property and it is likely that you will need to arrange all services such as cleaning and waste disposal yourself – and pay for them on top of the rent.

    Self-contained office within a larger building

    Leasing an office within a larger building means that you are responsible for your own offices, but that the landlord or agent is likely to manage all the communal areas.  They may also provide some services such as cleaning or waste disposal.  You will pay for these management services via a service charge which is additional to the rent.

    If there are like-minded organisations located in the building you might be able to save money by sharing resources such as a photocopier.

    Sharing an office

    Sharing an office can be a good option for taking on your first office.  If you need to rent one or more desks you may well be able to find an organisation with some spare space who would welcome the extra income.  Depending on their situation, you may well be able to arrange a very flexible deal that would allow you to move out at short notice.

    Shared space is usually charged on an 'all inclusive' basis – so that you have a clear idea of what your total office costs will be.

    Serviced office accommodation

    The most flexible type of space is serviced office accommodation in a business centre.  It is usually offered on 'easy in, easy out' terms and you can expand and contract the space you occupy fairly easily.  A fairly high turnover of tenants means that space is often available at short notice.  A full range of services is generally on offer so you won't have to spend time sourcing your own services.  The downside of a flexible, comprehensive package is cost.  It can be a useful option for a short period of time – but can prove very costly in the long term. This is a cost-effective alternative for small space requirements as it is often difficult to find very small office areas of accommodation in traditional buildings, exept in shared space.