Business Centers Flexibility
Business centres - providing flexible facilities
By Richard Boon, chairman, the Business Centre Association
The business centre industry has certainly come of age in recent years and today accounts for approximately 0.3% of all commercial property space in the UK. Whether you are a property director of a large corporate or the principal of an SME, the flexibility advantages of taking space in a business centre cannot be ignored, particularly in the current economic climate.
While it is a relatively young industry this side of the Atlantic, business centres or ?executive suites? as they are known in the US, have been an intrinsic part of the North American property culture for more than 30 years and they are steadily gaining the same level of acceptance across the UK. In fact, it is estimated that business centres in the UK will operate more than 300,000 workstations by the year 2006.
Established in 1989, the Business Centre Association (bca) has more than 600 member locations and is the only UK trade association representing the business centre and managed workspace industry. It specialises in providing support and guidance to owners and operators of centre, while setting industry standards and encouraging a network of excellence. It also provides an invaluable advice and location finder service for potential users of business centres.
The flexible solution
The 21st Century business centre provides a total occupancy solution which should have considerable appeal to facilities and property managers alike. Not only do business centres provide fully equipped offices, hotdesks and meeting rooms, but they also a wide range of secretarial and support services.
Business centres a very attractive proposition. With no capital investment required to buy or lease office equipment or furniture, business centres offer customers immediate access to fully furnished and well-equipped workspace in city centres and in key business districts across the country. This allows the user to concentrate their time and resources on their core business from day one, while reducing their financial risk to the minimum rental period, which is usually three months rent.
It is estimated that there are approximately 900 business centres currently operating in the UK and these range from small owner-operated centres to large chains run by international business and property groups. Whatever the requirements in terms of décor, location, space and cost there is almost certainly a business centre solution to match.
Facilities offered include fully-equipped offices; hot-desking suites; virtual offices; meeting, training and conference rooms, videoconferencing studios and a range of support services including fully staffed reception and a wide range of state-of-the-art IT and telecom packages.
Cost Control - Keeping Within Your Budget
Costs for taking space at a business centre vary considerably depending on the location of the centre, ie city centre or out of town business park; the size of the office required and its physical location within the centre; together with the quality of the building and its décor. Costs are transparent and inclusive of all building, heating and lighting, reception, security, maintenance, redecoration, refurbishment and cleaning charges.
There have been a number of major surveys in recent years drawing cost comparisons between taking workspace on a conventional lease vs serviced office space in a business centre and highlighting the substantial cost advantages of using a business centre. The Chartered Institute of Purchasing & Supply recently published its True Cost of the Flexible Office survey, which examined total occupancy costs in 8 major UK towns and cities and revealed average savings of up to 50% for those businesses taking space in a business centre.
For organisations considering moving to workspace in a business centre, the bca advises that they should be sure to really compare ?like with like? when analysing the costs of prospective venues. Business centres make an accommodation charge not just rent. To make a real comparison, rental costs must include service charges, utilities, business rates, building insurance, cleaning and maintenance, receptionist, furniture and most significantly, telecoms, to generate a genuine cost comparison.
For those who choose business centre accommodation, the benefits are instant ? a fully functioning office from day one. Serviced office space providers can be segmented by the quality of their offerings. However, the commonality is the ease of occupation and the instant access to furnished accommodation, meeting rooms and the availability of the latest telephone and telecommunications without £1 of capital investment. These services usually include immediate access to internet and broadband technology, IP telephony and videoconferencing.
For clients there are no overheads ? business centre charge for the services they provide on a pay-as-you-go basis. This flexible approach ensures companies can be very competitive ? as they have the control to tailor their costs with workloads without oppressive overheads. Essentially then, for business centre clients there is no fixed overhead in capital investment, or sharp depreciating cost investing in today?s technology that will effectively have to be written off within one to three years.
How to find the right business centre
Searching for the right business accommodation ? be it relocating from an existing office or perhaps expanding into a new market or region can be very exhausting and time-consuming, even for an experienced FM. It can also prove costly if the wrong building is chosen.
Moveandstay website Business Centers in the UK and Worldwide enables a free and impartial service which enables users to check out which business centre facilities are available in any town in the UK. It also allows for sophisticated searches for specific business functions such as videoconferencing or conferencing facilities.