If you run a home-based business, you're in good company. According to UK government figures, there are an estimated 2.9million home-based businesses in the UK, contributing £300 billion to the economy. However, there comes a time in the lifecycle of a growing business when the home office ceases to be a viable option. This could be because:
- The business outgrows its home office and requires more space to accommodate a growing team.
It's not professional enough. After all, inviting VIPs into your lounge doesn't quite cut it.
- You require more frequent access to meeting venues, and it becomes too inconvenient or costly to hire meeting rooms or rely on local coffee shops.
- The home office environment can be distracting (especially during school holidays). Likewise, home-based freelancers can find it too isolated and lonely.
- The home becomes a place of work, which can lead to long hours and burnout.
Happily, whether you require a short-term, part-time, drop-in or permanent workspace, there are all sorts of flexible options available on the market today. Whatever your reason for considering a new business environment, here are some low-budget suggestions to help your business transition from home to a more stimulating and professional workplace:
1) Shared offices and coworking spaces:
Coworking spaces are typically shared, open-plan workspaces in which freelancers, sole traders, professionals and mobile workers gather to work and collaborate. Most coworking spaces are found in city centres like London, Bristol, Manchester and Edinburgh, but you can now find a good variety of shared workspaces in many different locations.
Coworking is a great start for small businesses looking to move out of the home office. Some coworking spaces operate on monthly or quarterly memberships, much like a gym, with inclusive Wi-Fi, desk space and good coffee. Rates vary depending on usage, and scale up with additional services like meeting rooms, private offices, event space, and receptionist services.
2) Virtual office:
A 'virtual office' is a combination of business services usually found in serviced office centres. A virtual office is ideal for remote or home-based workers, and typically offers a package of services such as a building address, mail receipt, mail storage and forwarding, live call answering, and receptionist services. The only thing missing is a physical office!
It's a popular choice for startups, home-based businesses and freelancers, as you can continue to work from home whilst giving your business a real office address. It's a great way to protect your home address, and is also useful for businesses looking to expand into new locations, as it enables you to create a local presence and test the water in a new town or city.
Plus, as a virtual office client, you'll often get priority or discounted access to on-site meeting rooms or day offices.
3) Small serviced office:
A serviced office, such as those provided by United Business Centres (UBC), is the next step up from a coworking space. Serviced offices are often located inside a business centre or a large coworking space, providing private, furnished offices on flexible and short-term agreements. They are typically fully furnished and fitted with Internet connectivity and desk telephones, and provide business services throughout the working week such as receptionist support and telephone answering. Communal amenities such as meeting rooms, lounge areas, kitchens and break-out spaces are usually provided for clients' use.
Rates include office space rent, furniture, use of break-out areas, rates and utility costs (such as buildings insurance, IT and administration support) along with on-site receptionist and concierge services. Serviced offices range by size from single suites up to larger team rooms and bespoke spaces for 40 or 50+ people. Above all, they're flexible (meaning you're not tied into lengthy contractual agreements) and easy to manage, which makes them a useful stepping stone for small and growing businesses.
More options for home-based businesses:
Flexible hot-desks are a great way to escape the loneliness of the home office by the hour or by the day. Check out platforms like NearDesk or Office Genie to search for flexible hot-desks local to you.
United Business Centres (UBC)