To lease office space in London costs more than many freelancers can realistically budget, and owning your own office is often just a pipe dream, so there’s a growing demand for shared office space especially in Central London where rent, business rates and service charges continue to rise sharply.
Having leased my own space, shared space and everything else in-between over the past decade here's my top 10 tips for finding a shared office space in London.
Try asking any of your existing regular clients if they would allow you to use a desk in their office in return for a reduction in your charges for the regular contract of work which you already provide them. Just as a guide, one desk space in a leased Central London office is probably costing your client around £350+VAT per month, so you would need to be delivering at least that much value to your client to make this work. One of the benefits of renting space from a client is that it makes it easier for that client to use your services and therefore may very well start using your services more and more, so you get more income simply by your proximity to one of your clients (when in sight, in mind). The downside is that your client will expect you to drop everything and work on their requirement and unless you draw clear work boundaries they may start expecting you to put their work at top priority ahead of all your other clients, thus lowering your overall productivity with constant interruptions and 'urgent' tasks.
Do you have any friends or colleagues to call-in some long-overdue favours? Give them a call, let them know your predicament - you never know, they may have a space available for the next 12 months as they have just moved in to a new office and will take a few years to grow into the space. They may ask for a small rent, but it will probably be way below the market rate. Be careful though, if the relationship sours then your office space may disappear in a puff of smoke with it!
If you don't mind getting your hands dirty, get together with a few buddies and lease an office. Do you have a few freelancer friends who would rather stop working at home or always at their clients sites? Band together and save money, for example a band of 4 freelancers could lease a 300 square foot office and because there are four of you, each would only bear 25% of the costs of the lease - it will work out cheaper than a serviced office but you need to be prepared to commit to a 3 year minimum lease with an 18-month breakout clause.
Serviced offices have been around for a long time and there’s always one near you wherever you go in the world. These can be a convenient way to get space quickly, although often a little on the expensive side and with long 12 month term minimums if you want any discounts.
If your'e in the age group 16-25 there are organisations such as https://somewhereto.com/ in London that help you find spaces for free, not tried these myself but may be worth trying if you are in that age bracket.
A variation of getting a conventional lease is where you approach a landlord of a building that is earmarked for development and offer them to take on a short lease with a notice period that suits the landlord - the landlord may require a short notice of just a few weeks so this is not for the faint hearted!
If you have your own home then many freelancers have decided that instead of paying for an office they invest the money in a home office and possibly improve the value of their home at the same time - either literally a part of the home such as a study or spare bedroom or as an outbuilding/shed in the garden (there are many companies that now cater for building these garden based offices.
Using free public spaces such as libraries can be a useful stop gap (the British Library being an example) and also ‘paid-for’ public spaces such as coffee shops can work for a short time but are not really long term solutions if you need peace and quiet to work.
Although not specifically designed for a long-term 'Nine to Five' type work schedule, some private members clubs may be suitable with an annual fee covering membership in several locations so that you can mix things up when you get bored with one location. Costs can soon rack up though if you use the bar and restaurant facilities which are temptingly onsite.
Finally I would mention coworking spaces like our own, that can provide a peaceful and focused environment with a sense of community which really helps with motivation especially if you have been getting a little stir-crazy working at home.
I hope these tips help you find that perfect shared office space in London, happy office hunting!
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