What can startups do to combat London’s soaring office prices?

For budding entrepreneurs and fledgling enterprises, 2015 has seen London transformed from hero to zero. Earlier this year it was hailed as one of the world’s top ten hubs for startups, but it’s now better known as the third most expensive city on earth to have an office in.

Unfortunately, London’s commercial space is diminishing too. Now that the UK Government has decided to make permitted development rights permanent – which means office-to-residential conversions are much easier to conduct – there may be even less office space in the not-too-distant future therefore higher office prices.

Though the process of turning antiquated office blocks into luxury homes sounds like a headache, vacant property management companies that facilitate dramatically easier and cheaper conversions have made the option much more appealing. For example, in their experience, Oaksure Property Protection have saved a developer nearly £100K during an office to luxury flat conversion.

Such a turn of events is sure to prompt a number of questions for small and medium sized businesses (SMBs) contemplating London as a business destination. Has the capital city become too focussed on residential property, and can it even offer the commercial space needed to nurture small business culture with high office prices?

Engage with innovative office space

The rise of more flexible working attitudes and rising office prices has led to a growing need for short-lease office space. This year has seen the serviced office company i2Office open a 16th London location and the US-born coworking space WeWork launch its first space in the English capital.

But it doesn’t stop there. Interesting office spaces have been popping up across London, if only temporarily, from the Hoxton coworking treehouse to the cowork embracing coffee shops. Many SMBs are now happy to rent-a-desk to individuals who need a temporary work space if they have the space, engaging with the idea of the sharing economy.

Startups can engage with quirky workspaces not just as an environment to work in – depending on who their neighbours are, they can also boost their name, image and networking possibilities.

Embrace remote work

Startups can flourish without any office space at all. The digital revolution has led to the proclamation of the end of offices altogether. Though that in itself seems a bit far-fetched, it is true to say a startup can still function at a high level in the absence of an office space.

Remote working brings a plethora of perks to startup businesses. It saves on costs and allows companies to pick from a wider pool of potential employees. If a startup sets out to champion principles of remote working they can work with people across the globe how may be cheaper than those living in London alongside having more skills.

Of course not having a focal work point for a business can cause problems. Startups will still need space for meetings with potential clients or partners, alongside needing excellent communication skills if working cross-globally.

Make use of the digital toolbelt

If office space is unachievable it’s important to keep communication and organisation as seamless as possible. Startups on lean budgets can make the most of the many free digital tools available. Organisational tools from Trello to Asana, Google Drive and Evernote all have free capabilities that can be incredibly effective. The rise of such organisation tools has been noted throughout the past year, even resulting in people hailing the death of email.

Embracing cost-effective digital tools can help combat the lack of permanent office space available for startups. They can also help businesses become more efficient, but precautions must be taken.

Similarly to how businesses must dispose of confidential documents they no longer require, enterprises that store information digitally must ensure that it cannot fall into the wrong hands. In their blog on data destruction, the office clearance specialists Clearance Solutions say that even unusable computers with broken power supply units (PSU) probably still contain functioning hard drives.

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