What start-ups should consider when searching for office space

Following the launch of its 84,000 sq ft space for start-ups and entrepreneurs in Camden, Vanessa Butz, MD of Interchange talks about what startups should look out for when searching for office space.

When starting or growing a business, finding the right work environment for your company can be a difficult task.

There are a number of factors that you have to take into consideration that will hugely affect your ability to find talented employees, investors or clients and facilitate a positive office environment.

My experience, which involves previously working for Factory, Germany’s largest startup campus, and now Interchange, a new space for creatives and entrepreneurs in Camden, has taught me the ins and outs of finding the right ecosystem for you to take your business to the next level.

Location, location, location

Selecting the right location for your business is essential. Ideally, you should choose a place that has great transport links, good local amenities and a great community atmosphere. Also look for an area that is continuing to grow, evolving with the times and has a good digital infrastructure that enables businesses to run effectively.

However, you shouldn’t fall into the trap of only searching for an office space in the most popular locations as this can lead to higher rent costs. It’s always worth looking beyond the obvious areas, such as Manchester’s Northern Quarter or Silicon Roundabout in London, when searching for the right workplace environment.

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Areas such as King’s Cross and Camden, in London, are growing rapidly and Camden alone is fast becoming an ideal location for entrepreneurs and new companies, as it’s very central, has a strong history and identity as a trade and business hub but doesn’t have the same high rental costs as other areas.

The importance of design

Finding an office space that is beautifully designed is no longer a ‘nice added bonus’. Leading companies such as Google and Facebook have shown us that creating a stimulating working environment for employees is a fundamental business decision.

The right office design can help companies with challenges such as hiring and retention of staff, as well as business motivation and productivity. Other factors such as natural light and noise reduction can also help hugely with stress reduction and general wellbeing.

Small companies who want to emulate the Google model and provide themselves and their employees with inspiring surroundings, should look for this in a coworking environment and view it as an essential rather than an added benefit.

Ability to grow

Finding an office space that enables you to grow from one or two, to many employees over a period of time is now a possibility, as long as you choose to move into the right type of coworking space.

Moving into a shared office is a great option for a new business, as it can give you the flexibility to scale at your own pace, without needing to commit to a long-term lease or moving to an entirely new area every year or so.

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Make sure the coworking space you choose has various office sizes within one complex, which will allow you to scale-up without drastically changing your employee’s work environment, surroundings or routine.

A real sense of community

As a small start-up or a one-man-band it can be extremely liberating and exciting but it also has its challenges. Some people can find working alone or in a small team isolating and lacking in creative stimulation, therefore a really important factor in maximising success in these situations, is to surround yourself with the right people, both in your immediate and wider network.

Being around likeminded people who share your sense of drive and passion can have a huge impact on your business and lead to more opportunities, ideas, potential partnerships and hires. Recent studies have shown that friendships and connections at work are extremely important and discussing ideas and success with those around you can be key to motivation.

Offline connection

Even though a significant amount of our time is spent working online, the very necessary human connections of any business still occur in-person. Technology may be the facilitator of many businesses but the essential component is often real things, people and experiences – see the likes of Uber, Airbnb and JustEat as just some examples.

This is something we focused on with the launch of Interchange and is reflected in our unique location in the heart of Camden Market. The area, synonymous with creativity and trade, is London’s third largest business district after the City and Westminster and has over 28 million visitors per year.

As part of our offering, we are enabling startups to establish their own retail space in the iconic Markets, to help them showcase products and ideas and stay connected to the local business community and customers.

Further reading: A guide to SME finance

Praseeda Nair

Praseeda Nair

Praseeda was Editor for GrowthBusiness.co.uk from 2016 to 2018.