Finding New Office Space? What to Look For

Moving a business is a big deal. Whether it’s relocating people and property to another area, upscaling or downsizing an...

Moving a business is a big deal. Whether it’s relocating people and property to another area, upscaling or downsizing an existing offering or moving into your first office, there’s a lot to consider.  

Asking questions helps make the process easier. We’re not just talking about questions you’d ask the landlord or property manager (although clearly, they’re important), but questions to ask yourself and your business. Interrogation like this opens your eyes to your non-negotiables, the things that are vital to the success of your business, and those things you’re willing to be more flexible about. This article is far from exhaustive, but we hope it will be a helpful starting point in your upcoming search.  


What are the different types of office space available?  

There are several terms used to describe different types of office space. Some are used interchangeably, even though there are several marked differences. For clarity, we’re following three definitions suggested by global real estate consultants Knight Frank: the serviced office, the managed office, and the traditional office. 


Serviced Office

Hubble HQ describes a serviced office as a ‘workspace that is rented on a flexible, short-term basis. A tenant pays an all-in cost per desk each month.’ It’s a great option for start-ups as a business’s operational needs are often included in the price or are available on a pay-per-use basis.  

Businesses can move right in. They can also move out quickly as there are no complicated long-term leases to negotiate. Energym started out in a serviced office in an open-plan coworking space alongside several other start-ups. It was also ideal because it gave us access to networking opportunities and business growth support. We’ve since grown out of serviced and managed offices, but we’ll forever be grateful to Bruntwood SciTech at iCentrum in Aston for providing us with the means to grow our business right from the very start.  


Managed Office Space 

Knight Frank calls this the middle ground. These are self-contained offices in a shared building. They’re still managed but with greater flexibility over design and layout. Cost is usually based on square footage.  All Work writes that managed offices provide the ‘agility and cost-effectiveness of a flexible workspace (or serviced office) with the added benefit of control and security of a traditional lease”.  


Traditional Office Space 

Knight Frank writes that these are more suitable for established businesses ‘confident in their long-term space requirements’. You have a space that you can personalise completely, but you’ll have to pay for all the furniture, maintenance, amenities, services, security, etc.

We moved into a traditional office space in July 2023.  We were able to (with permission) knock down a wall to better serve the requirements of our engineering team. We could also paint and carpet the building to complement our branding. We’re also installing a fully working electricity-generating cycle studio to showcase our technology to our gym clients.

We also have an ECO:POD, a modular, self-contained exercise space designed to support employee wellness. We can use this for our employees and also to show potential clients. More importantly (for some of us, anyway), we can now have dogs in the office (and even a cat from time to time), which wasn’t possible when we were working in other office spaces.

However, there are some downsides to moving into a traditional office. It took us a lot of time and effort to set up systems and processes that had previously been the management company’s responsibility—things like waste management, cleaning services, security and fire systems, etc.  And when our heating broke, it was our responsibility to arrange and pay for an engineer to come out and fix it.   

It’s easy to assume that most companies will follow a similar evolution to ours and that the bigger the company grows, the more independent the office will be. However, there are several reasons why this may not be the case for every company. Big companies may need to downsize because more staff are now hybrid or working remotely. There’s no reason to pay for dead space that isn’t being used. Larger companies may also choose to pay for serviced offices for staff as an overspill to the main office or as a satellite office, which we’ll touch upon briefly in the next section.  


Physical Office Meaning 

Today, it’s also necessary to understand the difference between a physical and remote office. Physical offices are tangible locations: you travel to and work inside a physical office. You’ll find it in a building and be able to locate it on a map. A remote office is a little harder to define. It can refer to an employee’s home office, a shared working space, or, sometimes, a satellite office. Ultimately, it’s a workspace separate from a main central office and in today’s age is more commonly associated with remote working.  


What are Some of the Things You Should Look For in Office Space?  

You’ll likely already have some idea about the type of space you’re looking for: serviced, managed or traditional. Hopefully, some of the headings and suggestions below will help clarify other areas that you may not have considered yet.  


Budget, Size, Design, and Layout

Budget and size are likely to be the biggest driving forces behind your search. If you’re a relatively new company, then this can be difficult. You may not know how big the company will be six months from the start of your search. And while a smaller office may cost less in rent, it’s no good if you outgrow it before the end of your lease. Equally, a larger company may be trying to negotiate an office or digital-first working model. Paying for unused space will be expensive and frustrating.  

General advice is that an open-plan office with employees seated relatively close to one another should have 100 square feet per employee. Others suggest slightly more than this. Ultimately, it depends on how much privacy you’re willing to give employees and the nature of their work. You also don’t have to opt for a traditional layout. Floor space is only half the equation because it’s also about how you use it. The more traditional office layout with specific rooms and banks of desks may not be the most efficient way of setting up your space, especially if you’re managing hybrid staff or operating from a satellite office.  

Two office design trends we’re likely to see more of in 2024 are modular offices and activity-based working. Both may offer a more efficient use of space. Modular offices use furniture in a way that is easily adapted to the specific needs of that day. For example, using desks that can quickly and easily be moved into a new formation like combining individual working areas into a boardroom table, etc. It can also include self-contained ‘rooms’, which are temporary office pods that can be open-sided or even soundproofed to create private working or meeting areas. These rooms are often compact but highly functional. You may remember that we described our ECO:POD as modular because it’s assembled and disassembled in the office as a non-permanent structure.  

Activity-based working or ABW is where an open-plan office is set up into specific ‘zones’.  

Rather than having permanent desks where employees complete a wide range of tasks (taking meetings, collaborating, focused work, eating lunch, etc), employees move around the office depending on what they’re working on. For example, an employee might spend time in a breakout area collaborating with their team and then move to a private meeting booth for a remote call with a client before visiting a quiet zone for focused deep work. This can help the office space work more functionally, even in smaller areas. If you’re in a co-working space or serviced office, it may already be set up in this manner, as different companies may be working alongside one another. Open-plan offices in shared spaces are often better for collaborative activities, but it can be disruptive and distracting when a person is trying to focus on an important task. Asking about private rooms or quiet areas is a good idea. Noise-cancelling headphones can also be a good option when ambient noise gets a little loud.  

Size and space can be difficult when managing hybrid teams. Operating a desk booking system or asking employees to pick specific work-from-home days (or at least letting you know in advance), can help manage the number of people in the office at any one time. And, of course, the design and décor do matter. Our environment can wield a significant influence over how we work. Modern co-working spaces are often well-decorated. They’re trying to lure you in with design and finish. Traditional offices may be less enticing, but it’s important to look at the bones of the building, especially looking beyond décor that could be fixed relatively easily.

Our office was tired and a little shabby when we moved in, reflecting a previous tenant’s branding that hadn’t been updated in a decade. Within a short period, we’d given it a fresh lick of paint, new lighting, flooring, etc, which transformed the space.  You’ll also need to think about accessibility requirements for disabled employees, clients, and visitors. 


Location, Transport Links, Parking, and Neighbourhood 

Location is also important. While prime spots in the city centre can be expensive, they will benefit from transport links, local amenities and a more desirable postcode. If you’re relocating to another area, it’s a good idea to speak to employees about the impact it could have on their journey. Good local transport links are important, especially for employees who don’t drive. Being in a city or town centre can also encourage job applicants living further away to apply. Don’t forget the government’s cycle-to-work scheme if you’d also like to promote sustainable transport for your employees. You could also set up a carpool or offset the price of public transport by contributing to the cost of rail or bus passes, especially if an office move will make a journey less convenient or more expensive for your employees.  

Consider the surrounding area, too. Is it safe to walk around after dark or during the winter months when it gets darker earlier? Is there adequate on or off-site parking? What are the other businesses in the area, and how well- maintained or used are their units? Is the landlord struggling to rent properties? Have you checked local crime statistics or asked other business owners in the area what their experiences are?  

Another thing to consider is local construction. In and around Birmingham and Solihull there has been a lot of construction work relating to HS2. Motorway lanes and junctions have been closed for extended periods. The disruption has been going on for years and, in places, has impacted businesses. If your business relies on large deliveries or access to major routes, then check what scheduled work and maintenance is coming up. Some larger companies are now looking into satellite offices. This allows them to downsize from larger central office space and set up small outlying offices in other parts of the country. This can be one way to attract remote workers back into an office while reducing commute time. It may also help widen the geographical area of job candidates. 


Leases, Facilities, Rules and Regulations, Extra Fees 

The benefit of moving into a managed or serviced office is that many of the big responsibilities belong to the building owner. There will be a laundry list of things you’ll have to take care of in a traditional office, including  

  • Fire safety 
  • Ventilation 
  • Heating and lighting 
  • Security 
  • Internet 
  • Cleaning and maintenance 
  • Safety equipment 
  • Insurance 
  • Waste management 
  • Water 
  • Managing out-of-hours access 
  • Mail  
  • Car parking 


Regardless of the type of office space you’re moving into, it’s important to understand what’s included and what isn’t. For example, serviced and managed offices may only offer limited free parking spaces. There may only be paid parking or even no parking at all.  

The length of the rental agreement or lease is important too, especially for traditional office space, which used to average at between 5 and 10 years.  
Remember to ask about a break clause if you you’d benefit from one. This will allow you to end a lease without significant financial penalty. Ask about any service, cleaning and maintenance fees. You should also ask about responsibility for shared areas and foyers. The lease may also contain rules to be followed. For example, are pets allowed? What type of parking is available for visitors and clients? Is there 24-hour access to the building?  

Finding new office space is exciting but also daunting. Hopefully, this article has given you something to think about and some place to start narrowing down ideas. 

And if you’re wondering what to do with additional floorspace, consider the ECO:POD. The ECO:POD is a self-contained area that delivers an immersive, gamified fitness experience within the workplace. Our modular pods enable you to choose from meditation, yoga and cycle zones that each support work, workout, rest, and play. Each ECO:POD is designed for either 3 or 5 RE:GEN indoor cycling bikes with 100Wh Ohm batteries that capture your teams power as they ride 



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