There are several ways to refer to the concept of Serviced Office Space. In fact, an alteration in terminology may shift the emphasis onto a nuance of the overall concept. It can, therefore, be a little confusing to understand this popular way of setting up office space. Moreover, it’s not always clear what the differences between serviced offices, shared offices, coworking space and hot desking are. In this short article, I’m going to try and sift through some of the jargon and terminology to get to the basics of these concepts.
What is a Serviced Office?
On a basic level, a serviced office is an office which has been set up with all the facilities necessary for a smooth-running operation – from infrastructural works, furnishings, and equipment, to the IT set-up, networking, and cabling. It builds upon a plug-and-play model, whereby companies (from start-ups to medium and large sized businesses), freelancers and entrepreneurs may set up an office space swiftly and hassle-free.
Generally speaking, serviced offices offer the following benefits:
Ready-Made Office Space
The value of serviced offices stems in part from relieving the burden on companies of having to set up their own offices, often with strict deadlines. Not only does it take significant effort to source all the materials and equipment to set up a fully-functional office, but delays in construction and installation are almost common-place and can often blow through any contingency cushion. Serviced offices are ready-to-go solutions which make possible minimal a set-up time and, more importantly, at a little to no capital cost.
Often, when working in an office, it’s the basics which get to us. It’s the mess someone left in the kitchen space, the Boardroom which has been hijacked for a full day or the printer paper which ran out of ink which was never replaced. Working in a serviced office space means that you never worry about not having a space to meet in, a lack of coffee in the cupboard or not being able to print that all important report. Part and parcel of the serviced office concept is that you are, well, serviced with whatever your company may need, making your workday and workflow as seamless as possible.
Serviced office spaces generally have an IT infrastructure run by their own team. This reduces tenants of serviced office space from having to either incur the cost of establishing and retaining an IT department. Furthermore, such office spaces will put into place backup systems to ensure a zero-down-time policy.
Communal facility usage
Large boardrooms and smaller meeting rooms for business meetings are a must for any company aspiring to present themselves as an authority within their sector. But the cost of setting up and maintaining a set of meeting rooms and boardrooms is often unjustifiable, particularly for businesses in the start-up or seed-funding stage. Serviced office space makes possible a very significant reduction in cost for these facilities.
When looking to establish a company as a significant player within a market, there is a fine line to be tread between commitments which must be taken on as necessary investments and risk-laden liabilities. Serviced offices offer significant lease flexibility so that companies do not have to worry about being bound by a lengthy contract to an office space. This is a significant benefit both in terms of alleviating risk as well as for companies in a highly dynamic industry.
Being able to scale ones’ business both up and down is an extremely valuable capability. Similar to the benefit of lease flexibility, scalability makes expansion or contraction of a business in accordance with market influences an efficient process.
How is a Serviced Office different from a Managed Office, Administered office and a Business Centre?
Strictly speaking, it’s not. A Serviced office can in fact also be referred to as a Managed Office, Administered Office, or a Business Centre. Whilst this may be somewhat confusing, these terms actually tend to refer to the same concept because businesses may utilize that which most describes their offering in accordance with where they perceive the strength of their offering to lay. With this in mind, one may say that a Serviced Office is:
- Managed because there is usually an individual (or team) offering support and looking after the requirements of the tenants and members as well as helping to meet not only the expectations of these clients but also overcome issues that may arise on a daily basis. This manager will often also serve as a contact point for tenants with queries about the office space or custom requests .
- Administered in so far as the daily operations of the offices are seen to by the serviced office representatives. This is everything from making sure the coffee is fresh and available, as well as having the space clean and functional at every moment, but also general maintenance and other exigencies which may arise. Some such tasks include: timely procurement, IT equipment and infrastructural maintenance, compliance with regulatory fire and safety procedures, and managing client bookings of common spaces whilst maximizing efficiency.
- a Business Centre because they house several companies under one roof within a prestigious location. This means that not only are these companies able to present themselves in a highly professional manner, but they also have access to potential collaborators and partners within the space itself. Often, a serviced office representative within the serviced office also serves as a central point that facilitates opportunities for tenants and members to expand their network and create value between their companies and operations.
 Managed Workspace is sometimes used to refer to agreements with agents who take it upon themselves to source an adequate workspace for a company and set it up in line with that company’s business objectives.
Learn More About Serviced Offices
So what is a Shared Office Space, and how is a Serviced Office different from a Shared Office?
Well, in a sense, Serviced Office Space and Shared Office Space are not different at all. But just is the case between Serviced Office Space and Managed or Administered Office Space, the emphasis when referring to a Serviced Office Space as a Shared Office Space shifts to give a priority to the ‘Shared’ aspect of the concept.
The concept serviced office space is largely based on the principle that it is better for assets to be used than for them to gather dust. Relatedly, it is also better to split the cost of assets rather than to have to fork out the full capital expense and utilize that asset for a fraction of the time. Imagine a family of five buying a washing machine per-person instead of one between the group; high investment for an asset seeing minimal usage.
But are all Shared Offices Serviced Offices?
Whilst there is very much a ‘shared’ aspect inherent within the concept of Serviced Office Space, Shared Office Space can itself simply refer to extra office space which is being leased out to third parties as a way for a company to utilize space which would otherwise remain empty. Therefore, some of the benefits outlined above may not be found in a simple shared office space.
Offering Serviced Office Space is an expertise in its’ own right. The value of such a service may be seen not only in the benefits outlined above but also by virtue of the fact that being able to successfully house several companies under one roof in harmony makes possible a significant cost-sharing. Companies within a shared office space split the cost for facilities which generally require significant capital expenditure as well as ongoing maintenance. Furthermore, these facilities tend to be utilized only for an extremely limited amount of time, meaning they are, for the most part, a pure cost.
Is there a difference between Coworking Space and Serviced Offices?
Definitely! Whilst there is some overlap in terms of benefits (given that they both feed off the ‘shared’ principle), there are also significant differences. Coworking spaces are usually open-plan arrangements of desks predominantly utilized by freelancers, professionals in self-employment with a small operation and beginner entrepreneurs. Coworking spaces tend to be:
Highly flexible agreements
More heavily concerned with networking
Whilst coworking spaces are also found outside of the context of a serviced office space, often a mix of the two is utilized. This makes possible significant scalability possibilities, as well as project-based workload increases for tenants and members of serviced office space.
You can check out our Coworking Space at BUSINESSLABS to get an idea of package agreements, as well as for more on coworking spaces in general.
Coworking and Hot Desking: What’s the Difference?
The term ‘coworking’ refers to a communal way of working within a space which is open and dynamic. Professionals who opt for such an arrangement may do through varying agreements. For example, this may be done either by paying a monthly fee for a Fixed Desk within the space, and therefore always having a particular spot available whenever they visit the space. Alternatively, members may opt for a Hot Desking arrangement, by which they are free to utilise any desk available within the coworking space.
Therefore, whilst ‘Coworking’ refers to the general concept outlined above, ‘Hot Desking’ is an agreement by which individuals may utilize the space.
Is a Serviced Office Space right for me?
Your choice should always be dependent on where you are within the development of your business, and where you expect your business to be in the near future. Naturally, as someone who works at a serviced office, I can only have a biased opinion. But even with that being said, I truly believe that the benefits which most serviced offices offer make them an ideal situation for many individuals and small to medium companies looking for office space.
The questions below should help you to understand whether serviced office space is the right option for you:
What are my timelines for moving into my new office space?
Do I have the know-how to set up my own office?
Can I make the time/energy-investment to do so?
What are my cost limitations?
How many meetings per month (or per week) will my company be holding?
Is location an important factor?
Can the serviced office see to my IT requirements?
What are the Data Protection Policies of the serviced office?
What sort of companies does the serviced office usually attract?