23 August 2019/ rent_office_guide

A guide to renting an office in London

London is an appealing location for any business looking to be taken seriously. The capital is where many of the UK’s biggest businesses are based and is both a domestic and international hub for many industries, including finance, law, business, literature, media and technology. A London address will put your business amongst some of the world’s biggest corporations and give you easy access to clients, prospective clients and suppliers.

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The professional appeal of having a London address outweighs the many constraints like high cost and lack of space associated with the city. In addition to the general things you need to consider before renting office space anywhere, there are a number of things to consider when renting an office in London specifically.

The location

There are lots of factors that will affect which part of London you opt for. As well as obvious considerations like ease of transport and availability, there are other things to consider when choosing London office space.

Industry

The industry or sector that your business operates in can influence where you choose to base your business. Financial services and legal firms, for example, will want to be close to or within The City or Canary Wharf next to international banks. Your business will receive a reputational boost simply for rubbing shoulders with the world’s biggest and best. However, creative companies are likely to feel out of place here.

Places like Camden and Southbank have an artistic, laidback feel that’s ideal for creative agencies and media companies, while tech start-ups might find themselves more at home in the Silicon Roundabout area (comprising Shoreditch and St Luke’s, primarily). These are just guidelines, but it’s worth considering who your neighbours are going to be during your search for the perfect office.

Client base

If your clients are in central London, it’s smart to base your business either in a central location or in an area that’s easy to reach from there. Look for offices near Tube or Overground stations so your clients won’t have a long, confusing walk or costly taxi journey to reach you.

If your clients are based across the country, you have two choices. You can either choose an area on the outskirts on London like Ealing, which is easier to reach via road and rail, or ensure you’re close to a National Rail station in one of the central districts.

Those with a high number of international clients also need to ensure that their office has good links to airports. London City Airport, in the East, is close to areas like Mile End and East Ham, while Heathrow is close to western areas such as Richmond-upon-Thames.

Budget

Budget is probably the biggest constraint when looking for a London Office due to high rent prices across much of London. Offices in prime areas like Mayfair regularly command five figure rents each month, which is out of most people’s reach. Instead, look at areas like South Lambeth and Clapham, which are within a 25-35 minute journey of central London but are significantly more affordable.

If you want your business to benefit from the prestige of a London postcode, but aren’t concerned about a central location, look at areas further out like Balham, Enfield and Watford. This is also ideal if you have a larger business, as you’ll get a lot more for your money in London’s less crowded districts.

Transport

London has excellent public transport links, making it easy to get around the city. It’s important to also consider how easy it’s going to be for your employees and clients to reach you from wherever they’re based. Bus, Tube, Docklands Light Railway (DLR), London Overground and National Rail services all run across London, with some travelling to the outskirts of zone 9.

However your employees commute in, make sure you take this into account when choosing your office. If your business is just starting out, you probably don’t have an existing workforce to think about, so just ensure you’re located within 10 minutes’ walk of at least one public transport route, be it bus, underground or overground. If you don’t, you’ll limit your appeal to potential employees.

If you’re relocating, take time to consider how easy it will be for your current staff to get to your new office. Adding an hour onto your workforce’s commute isn’t likely to be well received. Try to minimise disruption otherwise  you risk losing good members of staff.

Parking

Very few offices in London have parking spaces due to the associated cost and space restriction within the city. Many Londoners don’t own cars, as driving in central London comes with a congestion charge and is frequently slow due to traffic. Even in less central areas, it’s usually quicker to get around via public transport. It’s strange to adjust to, particularly if your business is moving from a suburban location with ample parking, but office parking doesn’t need to be on your must-have list when looking for an office in London.

Co-working spaces

If you need access to office space on a temporary or ad-hoc basis, look at offices with hot-desking or co-working options. Many co-working spaces offer dedicated desk or office space, where you and your team will have a private workspace for the duration of your stay, with contracts ranging from a month to a year. This is an ideal solution for businesses with headquarters outside of London that need a base for an annual event or one-off project. However, it can be an expensive option, so isn’t an ideal long-term solution.

If you’re self-employed, or your business is based outside London, and you only need occasional access to meeting rooms or desks, hot-desking is a great option. You’ll pay a substantially lower fee for access to desk space and meeting rooms as and when you need it. The only difference is that you won’t have a set desk, so you won’t be able to leave personal belongings in the office.

Types of offices

Whether your office comes furnished or as a blank canvas can make a big difference to the price. Similarly, the luxury of a concierge or office manager are great, but they’ll affect the amount of rent you pay.

Unfurnished offices

Unfurnished offices come with no furniture, although if they have a kitchen this will almost always be equipped with at least a fridge (and often a dishwasher). They may look cheap on paper, but costs can spiral once you’ve factored in the cost of furniture. If you save £300 per month on rent (when compared to a similar furnished office) but then have to spend thousands on furniture, it might not be the bargain you first thought. However, if only need a couple of desks to get up and running, it could be the best choice for you.

Furnished offices

Furnished offices generally come with basic furnishings (desks, chairs, chairs and tables for meeting rooms and a kettle), although what each landlord provides varies depending on price and from building to building. Take the time to ensure you know exactly what your landlord is providing, before you sign the lease, as you might assume items are included that you’ve seen on a viewing or in pictures that were added by the previous tenant.

Serviced offices

The most expensive of all, serviced offices come with lots of extras including office managers, concierge receptions and a host of built in facilities like fitness spaces and cafes. What’s specifically included varies from building to building. Be prepared to pay a premium for the perks that serviced offices provide. If you can afford it, though, your staff will appreciate working in a building with lots of added extras.

Office campuses

If security is high on your list of priorities, look at offices on a campus-style or gated development. You’ll need a pass or code to enter the area and will have access to round the clock security, as well as communal facilities like balconies, terraces, gardens and even fitness studios.

Prices across London

Below is the average price per square foot (PSF) for offices across a selection of different areas of London:

  • Knightsbridge: Grade A - £95-80 PSF/ Grade B - £75 - £60
  • Hammersmith: Grade A - £50- £60 / Grade B - £45-£35
  • Chiswick: Grade A - £45 - £55/ Grade B - £35 - £45
  • St. James: Grade A - £110 - £120/ Grade B - £70 - £90
  • Victoria: Grade A - £65 - £75/ Grade B - £63.50
  • Mayfair: Grade A - £110 - £120/ Grade B - £65 - £75
  • Paddington: Grade A - £70 - £75/ Grade B - £55 - £65
  • Midtown West: Grade A - £60 - £80/ Grade B - £45- £55
  • Soho: Grade A - £80 - £95/ Grade B - £55 - £65
  • North Oxford St East: Grade A - £80 - £90/ Grade B - £60 - £65
  • North Oxford St West: Grade A - £75 - £90/ Grade B - £60 - £75
  • Kings Cross: Grade A - £75 - £82.50/ Grade B - £50 - £72.50
  • Southbank: Grade A - £65 - £75/ Grade B - £55 - £65
  • City: Grade A - £55 - £70/ Grade B - £40 - £50
  • Stratford: Grade A - £40 - £50/ Grade B - £30 - £45
  • Canary Wharf: Grade A - £40 - £50/ Grade B - £35 - £40
  • Midtown East: Grade A - £62.50 - £70/ Grade B - £45 - £57.50
  • Euston: Grade A - £67.50 -£72.50/ Grade B - £55 - £65

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