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Office Space: Think Outside The Box

My company is only just over 2 years old.  It’s been going really well so far and I’m just about to employ my second member of staff, which means it’s no longer going to be possible for us to work out of my garden shed!  So I started looking into renting office space in Cambridge.  My heart sank.  Not only was it going to put a serious dent in my budget, but most landlords and commercial property agents want you to take out a 3-5 year lease.  That’s a huge commitment to saddle yourself with when you’re only just starting out and you’re still not quite sure where it’s going to go!

I was sure that there had to be some other way around this for me, so I began to research.  And I found that actually, if you get creative there are many approaches to office space that can save you a lot of money!

Firstly, there are virtual office services available.  This includes giving you a business address and a telephone answering service, helping you to look more professional.  You can get a virtual office for about £50 a month!  Sadly it wasn’t an option for me because I still needed somewhere for the 4 of us to work together, but for companies even smaller than mine I think this is a great option!

And so my search continued.  Another great option I found is to use co-working space.  This is office space that can be rented as needed by many different companies.  It’s flexible and allows you to rent by the day, month or year.  I read a great article by FastCompany on the benefits of this arrangement and decided to try and find a co-working space in Cambridge, which I did easily with a quick Google search!  So I pencilled that down as a possible way forward, but decided to search further to see if there were any other options.

Office Space: Think Outside The Box

Shared office space is another fantastic alternative to leasing.  It encourages interaction with other local businesses and gives you an opportunity to share your ideas with others.  There are so many benefits to sharing an office space with another company.  In this economic climate, many companies may have had to cut back and therefore might have more office space than they need. They’re losing money on that extra space and often are more than happy to sublet it.  For smaller companies, it’s even possible to rent just a desk or a cubicle for a flat fee.  Thanks to sites like Gumtree, Office Genie and Share My Office all of this can be arranged with just a few clicks.

There are also actual shared office companies that are available to be used.  Regus, for example, have a global footprint and this allows small companies to lease individual offices.  This saves you the time that it would take to find space, set up the internet, hook up your phone lines and maintain the services.  All of this is included in your package.  You’ll also have access to a receptionist, conference rooms and kitchens.  Everything you need to just turn up and get started.

I also discovered that the art of bartering is making a comeback when it comes to shared office space.  Platforms like Gumtree allow start-ups to contact companies that have office space and might be willing to exchange it for a service you could offer them.  What does your company do?  Is there a service you could offer somebody for free in order to acquire the office space you need?  Could you contact your existing clients to see if they have any office space available? Bartering is a lot of fun because the only limit is your imagination!

I was lucky in the end and managed to find a great little office local to me to sublet at a fraction of the price!  The guy I rent from originally needed the space for storage, but doesn’t any longer so I’m saving him a lot of money by moving in and he’s saving me a lot of money by letting me! A mutually beneficial arrangement!  But as you can see, there are so many options out there if you just think outside the box a little.  I hope this gives you the inspiration you need to go and find your own solution.