This article first appeared on July 24th, 2013.
Does your average start-up really need a formal office anymore? Doesn’t it make more sense to work from home, or on the move in places like coffee shops?
If you’re oblivious to distractions and incapable of being tempted away from work, the answer will be ‘I can be productive anywhere’. Good for you, but what follows is written with the other 99% of the human race in mind.
Many of us find there’s a discipline that comes from working in an office outside the home at least some of the time. Renting involves more responsibility, which explains why serviced offices rank with home working as a popular option. In fact, the two aren’t mutually exclusive: some start-ups use serviced centres when an uncompromisingly business-like atmosphere is vital.
The pros are straightforward. Your workspace is ready-to-go at a few hours’ notice. You choose the amount of space you want for as long as you want it. Smart furniture, reliable printers, scanners, photocopiers and telecoms are part of the package and, let’s face it, you’re going to get better quality than most of us could otherwise afford.
Support staff are on tap, so there’ll be no hanging about if anything needs fixing (or explaining). You get a kitchen too, which is handy as we all need somewhere to chat or idle away a few relaxing minutes. Everything goes on a single monthly bill.
Of course other people need to be happy with your choice of office too – your customers. A residential address may not project the right image, but a serviced base can provide an upmarket address, swish meeting rooms, video conferencing and – not least – polite and efficient people to answer the phones.
In the interest of disclosure, I should point out that Regus (I am the country manager of Regus Australia Management) is the biggest with over 1500 centres worldwide and 40 here in Australia. But there are various chains that provide serviced offices. These centres are often in suburban locations and at freeway interchanges as well as in city centres. People who use serviced offices say things like “it’s a more productive environment because it’s a more structured environment”.
So that’s the pros but what are the cons? Well, a serviced office naturally costs more than working from home, or hopping from coffee shop to park bench. It entails commuting and it will certainly feel far more like work (no typing in your pyjamas). So the decision is a very personal one.