Curtis Fray and Chris Hughes set up in partnership in computer consultancy. They had no idea whether the business would last and how much it would generate. To keep costs down and to see whether the business was viable, they both worked from home for six months before moving into serviced offices.
Spacial Computers was set up in July 1997 primarily to build computer systems, although Fray and Hughes now also set up and maintain networks as well as doing some web design.
As Fray and Hughes lived very close to each other in the Bicester area, it was initially very convenient. As the work was initially based on building computers, they did not need a lot of space, explained Fray. In addition, they were meeting clients on-site and so did not need an office to entertain.
After six months, the partners were confident that the business was viable and decided that they needed to find office space. “It was partly psychological,” said Hughes, “If you work at home it doesn't ever feel like you are going to or leaving work.”
However, when they started looking around they realised that leases for commercial property were expensive and generally required a minimum five year term. As well as not knowing whether they would still be in business in five years, Spacial Computers found the cost of office space prohibitive. Particularly when the additional costs, such as rates and heating, were factored in. They quickly decided that an all-in-one package would be best.
Their search coincided with the decision of Oxford Innovation to build serviced offices in Upper Hayford.
Spacial Computers moved into the business centre the following March and have a monthly lease. The price includes everything except the telephone bill, making cashflow forecasting a lot easier. “We know exactly how much the monthly outgoings are,” said Fray. “There is no more light or heating in the winter".
If both partners are out, the telephones are answered by the main reception, there is a conference room available for hire and there is 24 hour security. In addition, Spacial Computers have got contracts from some of the other 15 companies based in the same offices.
The first five months of working from home was crucial for Spacial Computers, according to Fray. Although Spacial Computers attracted funding from the Prince's Trust, after buying a demonstration computer and basic office equipment, such as a fax and printer, they did not have enough to rent office space. But now that they have discovered serviced offices, they are staying put. The ease compensates for any additional costs and the offices help to make it feel more professional.