A serviced office, sometimes known as a business centre, provides office space with shared facilities for a regular charge that covers all occupation costs.
You can rent an office suite within a business centre for an hour, a day, a month or years. So it’s a little like hotel accommodation for your business. And there’s accommodation available to suit virtually any type of enterprise.
There is a range of services offered by business centres as part of a rental package. Check with individual business centres which of these services they have available:
Semi or fully furnished offices
Reception with customised telephone answering
Secretarial support if required
Meeting rooms and boardrooms
Kitchens and possibly catering services
Mail franking and collection
Fax and photocopying
Email and internet facilities
Presentation or conferencing equipment
You can take on basic, unfurnished office space (known as managed workspace) up to five star office accommodation. This top end of the market targets corporate high flyers with state of the art IT and communication systems in premium locations.
Many business centres now also offer short stay facilities – offering weekly, daily or hourly rates. Several companies have a worldwide network of serviced offices, often with the option of using their facilities in another country on a short-term basis if you’re on an overseas business trip.
Business centres began in the US, but the concept emerged in the UK in the 1960s, originally as co-operative arrangements where several businesses shared the cost of secretarial and other services.
Business centres have taken off in the UK. Three of the major suppliers of serviced offices are Regus, HQ and MWB, who operate over 100 business centres in the UK alone. And in the UK’s M4 corridor, an area dominated by the high tech industry, serviced offices now account for almost one fifth of all office rental in the region. According to the Business Centre Association (BCA) 40,000 UK businesses currently use a serviced office, totalling around half a million individual workstations.