13 Mar Myths about Serviced Offices
There’s so much misunderstanding about what serviced offices deliver. As serviced office providers, we’ve heard it all! We set you right about the usual misconceptions.
1. Serviced offices look unprofessional
Do you really ‘know’ where your clients and suppliers actually work? Take nothing for granted; it’s likely that even if they have a big impressive office in London or Manchester, quite a few of their staff will be home-working a couple of days a week anyway, and how ‘professional’ is a laptop perched on a dressing gown surrounded by cats or a blaring radio? If their work is excellent and they’ve got an established business address, does it matter?
A serviced office may not have the grandiose appeal of your exclusive building but it does keep costs in check and give you flexibility. All it really means is outsourcing your office manager and all their time-consuming jobs to someone else with a mutual interest in keeping costs low.
Look for a business centre (like ours!) with a prominent, easy-to-locate Reception desk. This will help assure any visitors that your business is here to stay. Always ensure you answer your own phone (or get this properly done by your virtual office people in a way that personalises your calls). This will ensure callers trust you and keep putting business your way. We have called companies based at other serviced offices and all too often it’s painfully obvious that it’s a call answering service. We aim to avoid that with more of a personal touch.
2. It looks cheap but then you get a bill for all the add-ons
We can’t pretend this doesn’t happen at some serviced offices but it’s not hard to find serviced offices (again, like Mantle!) that throw nice extras like coffee, tea and milk into the deal…..because who wants the hassle of buying milk if you’re only in two or three days a week?.
Telephone charges can also be a pleasant surprise; economy of scale means that their telecoms provider will do a better deal for them offering 20 or 30 companies’ worth of business than it could for your little four-person enterprise alone. The best-serviced offices should either let you bring in your own phone system or agree on an all-inclusive deal for you, so invoices don’t vary wildly month-to-month. Charging extra for broadband or wifi was common previously, but providers have wised up to how much clients resented that and are trying much harder to be transparent with costs. Look for free wifi codes on the Reception desk. We are always happy to hand these out.
Likewise, consider parking– it’s so vital! Our clients love the fact they just drive up to our buildings and park wherever they choose, free of charge. Better planning is now happening in the serviced office market, because unless it’s bang in the centre of a big city, a serviced office can’t sell offices without parking spaces. So ask if you’ll be able to park on-site for free, or let them know why you had to go elsewhere!
3. Access is limited to office hours- which you have no control over
A good serviced office should understand that smaller businesses and start-ups tend to work flexible hours and often need to put in extra hours at the weekend. Look for somewhere that allows 24/7 access so you can come and go as you please. You might be surprised to know that most serviced offices these days have taken this approach- they wouldn’t stay in business long if the doors shut at 5.30 every night.
4. Serviced offices are only for new companies or small enterprises
Experience says this couldn’t be further from the truth. In fact, larger companies use serviced offices as an easy way to experiment with new locations– they can check out the area for a few months before deciding if it fits their recruitment drive, their strategy and their practical needs. Clearly, it’s easier to get this decision past management than if they were asking for a permanent new branch.
And these days, many larger or more established companies secure project work in a particular area they wouldn’t need to stay in longer-term, so a temporary serviced office is a nice tidy solution to that problem, allowing them to stay on if the project becomes extended for whatever reason. It’s certainly flexibility they wouldn’t get elsewhere.
So if you do take a serviced office, your neighbour might well turn out to be a bank, pharmaceutical company or extension of the local Council, rather than just the freelance graphic designer or start-up travel consultants you’d imagined would share the water cooler.
5. Forget your own branding; you’ll be stuck with their decor and plastered in their logo.
A common prejudice, but in reality serviced offices nowadays actively market themselves as unbranded and in many, you’d be hard pushed even to find the provider’s logo. We’d argue this has almost gone too far to the opposite extreme, especially in London, with buildings being so discrete that it’s hard to know you’ve arrived at the right address!
The happy compromise should be a simple serviced office logo on the front of the building and/or at Reception, then unfettered discretion to paint and decorate your own room as suits you. Our tenants love to customise their offices. Well serviced office providers will take this as a positive sign you are investing in their space and there for the longer term. Ask for a clause in your contract to allow decorating as long as you restore the room to its previous condition when you leave.
If you’re really lucky, you may find a serviced office that will agree to adapt your space with a partition or build in an internal meeting room- provided of course that you foot the cost and/or stay a minimum period. We have adapted space for clients very often over the past years. If that’s way outside your budget, a branded/personalised door sign for your office can make you feel at home and subtly spread the word about what you do. Serviced offices are notoriously good for networking.
If you are (or would like to be) based in Wokingham, Berkshire, give our fabulous offices a try. We have two fantastic, professional and welcoming Business Centres where clients are allowed lime green walls (if that’s their thing), 24/7 access and are never billed for services they don’t use. We are contactable at firstname.lastname@example.org or chat with us on Twitter at https://twitter.com/MantleLtd Take a look at our centres at www.instagram.com/mantleoffices/