Opinions / 23.02.2017
Space: the vital front ‘ere
Stan Laurel, Eric Sykes, Ken Dodd, Bernard Cribbins, Eric Morecambe, Les Dawson, Victoria Wood, Peter Kaye, Lee Mack, Steve Coogan & Jon Richardson all have something in common.
Yes, well spotted. They are all comedians.
Those with a decent level of geographical knowledge and possibly an ear for accents may also realise that they are all Lancastrian comics. Almost certainly, all of them would avoid using an awful pun on the phrase “Space: The final frontier” as the title of a blog on leased offices. Actually, Lee Mack might have a go……..
A common topic of conversation in the red rose county is why so many successful funny men and women hail from that region. The conversational tone and varied pace of many of the North West dialects is frequently suggested, together with a determination in the locals to see the funny side of life.
It’s usually not long though before conversation returns to that old favourite; the inclement, wet climate and the oft repeated northern complaint that the national weather forecast is obsessed with the weather in London and the South East. It can have been hell-on-earth in Blackburn or Bridlington, Leeds or Leicester for days on end; but at the first sign of a snowflake in Surbiton, the national news and weather go into meltdown.
Of course, in terms of space, more specifically the cost of leasing office space, we also often find the focus firmly on London and the South East. Space in central London can easily cost an eye-watering £140 per ft² a year and even the cheaper parts of the capital will set you back £50 per ft² which has a knock-on effect in surrounding areas.
Prices may be less in other regions, but as more office stock is converted to residential use, the pressure for space will inevitably increase the lease costs for businesses throughout the UK. In the TV show, ‘Location Location Location’, the clue is in the title when it comes to the priority for finding a residential property that ticks all the boxes, and offices are no different. Transport links, commute times for staff, proximity to target market are all considerations but the market knows this and it’s very rare that the cheapest premises are in your ideal location.
As we are constantly reminded, most new businesses survive their first year but around half won’t make it to their fifth. Owners have to manage this period of development carefully, investing in the company for growth but retaining enough cash to withstand unexpected pressures. Being able to get the best premises to allow your company to expand, as close to your desired location as possible and at a price that will leave your bank balance healthy is the balancing act that bosses have to perform.
How many of us have worked in an office with the dreaded filing cabinet that no-one dares to open? Obsolete files, training manuals and memos have been crammed in and locked away never to see the light of day again. Old fax machines lurk at the back of the stationery cupboard and paper records burst from lever arch files that are piled on shelves over desks that don’t quite fit in the space because the server cabinet is in the way on one wall and a fire extinguisher attached to the other one.
Being able to use space effectively and manage storage can provide a huge benefit to any business but particularly those in the early stages of development. A workplace analysis and storage audit can make your new workspace a better one by identifying your current working practices and improving the use of space. Simple solutions such as trunking all the wiring under the floor and recessing cupboards leave more of the floor space free. Carefully sized or bespoke furniture that better fits the space and new and innovative storage solutions will enable staff to become more productive and motivated. Perhaps more importantly, they can also have a simple cost benefit to the business.
If we show that you can comfortably take an office 100ft² smaller than you had previously thought, it could easily save you £2,000 – £5,000 per year in the regions and up to an astonishing £14,000 in London. Now imagine if we can lessen your search by 500ft², the lease savings become, well, vital. On current trends and with the promised Northern Powerhouse aiming to improve regional growth, the savings will be even greater in the future.
So make thinking about space a priority when you are considering new offices and you might be able to keep more of your money in the bank.
Or as they say in Lancashire, “Be more Yorkshire!”