In the current economic climate, small businesses cannot ignore the flexibility advantages of taking space in a business centre with other firms.
While they are relatively new in the UK, business centres have been an intrinsic part of the North American property culture for more than 30 years and they are steadily gaining the same level of acceptance across the UK.
The modern-day business centre provides a total occupancy solution which should have considerable appeal to small firms. Not only do business centres provide fully equipped offices, ‘hotdesks’ and meeting rooms, but they also a wide range of secretarial and support services.
Business centres a very attractive proposition. With no capital investment required to buy or lease office equipment or furniture, business centres offer customers immediate access to fully furnished and well-equipped workspace in city centres and in key business districts across the country.
This allows the user to concentrate their time and resources on their core business from day one, while reducing their financial risk to the minimum rental period, which is usually three months rent.
It is estimated that there are approximately 900 business centres currently operating in the UK. These range from small owner-operated centres to large chains run by international business and property groups. Whatever the requirements in terms of décor, location, space and cost there is almost certainly a business centre solution to match.
Keeping Within Your Budget
Costs for taking space at a business centre vary considerably depending on the location of the centre, ie city centre or out of town business park; the size of the office required and its physical location within the centre; together with the quality of the building and its décor. Costs are transparent and inclusive of all building, heating and lighting, reception, security, maintenance, redecoration, refurbishment and cleaning charges.
There have been a number of major surveys in recent years drawing cost comparisons between taking workspace on a conventional lease versus serviced office space in a business center..
The Chartered Institute of Purchasing & Supply recently published its True Cost of the Flexible Office survey, which examined total occupancy costs in eight major UK towns and cities and revealed average savings of up to 50% for those firms taking space in a business centre.
For organisations considering moving to workspace in a business centre, the bca advises that they should be sure to really compare ‘like with like’ when analysing the costs of prospective venues. Business centres make an accommodation charge, not rent. To make a real comparison, rental costs must include service charges, utilities, business rates, building insurance, cleaning and maintenance, receptionist, furniture and most significantly, telecoms, to generate a genuine cost comparison.
For clients there are no overheads – business centre charge for the services they provide on a pay-as-you-go basis. This flexible approach ensures companies can be very competitive – as they have the control to tailor their costs with workloads without oppressive overheads.
Essentially, there is no fixed overhead in capital investment, or sharp depreciating cost investing in today’s technology that will effectively have to be written off within one to three years.
By Richard Boon, chairman, the Business Centre Association (bca)
The bca’s website, www.bca.uk.com, offers a free and impartial service which enables users to check out which business centre facilities are available in any town in the UK. It also allows for searches for specific business functions such as videoconferencing or conferencing facilities.