The BCA Guide to Flexible Workspace Terminology #2 – Serviced Office
To help clients navigate the dictionary of jargon associated with the flexible workspace industry, the BCA has kicked off a series of guides detailing common workspace types and associated services.
The first post in the series focused on Collaborative Workspace, with further guides offering insight into Manufacturing Space and the Virtual Office. These guides delve further into each type of workspace, aiming to bring definition to ‘grey areas’ and shed light on what can be considered as confusing terminology.
This week, we shine the spotlight on Serviced Offices and Business Centres. You can also find out more about terminology relating to the wider commercial property industry in the BCA’s comprehensiveglossary of workspace terms.
2. Serviced Offices & Business Centres
Serviced offices, known in the U.S. and some other parts of the world as Executive Suites, were introduced in the 1980s as a way for businesses to rent small amounts of office space on flexible terms without the need to enter into lengthy, complex leases.
A serviced office is a partitioned office space, normally fully furnished, that is rented by businesses on straightforward easy-in easy-out terms. A serviced office ‘operator’ may manage, own or lease part of a building, eg. two floors or sometimes the entire property. The operator then divides the space into individual office suites of various layouts and sizes, and rents these office spaces to multiple businesses and SMEs.
A business centre is the term used to describe serviced offices managed by the operator, normally referring to the office space and all associated services and support.
The range of space available often incorporates single offices, small suites for 4 or 5 people, and sometimes larger corporate spaces for 20, 30 or more desks. There will usually be communal facilities such as one or several meeting rooms, informal lounge areas, bathrooms, a front desk, gym facilities, showers, bicycle racks, and kitchen facilities. Some suites are self-contained and include their own meeting rooms and break-out areas, others are more basic yet still provide access to communal facilities.
- Who is it for? Given their flexible nature, support services and professional appearance, serviced offices have long been favoured by startups and small/medium-sized businesses. In recent years it has also become a preferred option for largescale corporates, particularly those that are restructuring or looking to expand into new cities.
One of the defining characteristics of a serviced office is the on-site support and inclusive services. The details vary between operators, but businesses can generally expect the following:
- Reception services and front desk;
- Business support services such as call answering and secretarial assistance;
- Access to meeting rooms and conferencing or presentation equipment;
- Use of communal facilities such as kitchens, break-out areas, gyms, showers, parking and so on;
- Telephony and high-speed broadband internet connection;
- Technical support, either from the Centre Manager’s team or from a dedicated on-site IT technician;
- Building maintenance, cleaning and general upkeep is normally included as standard and organised by the operator.
Serviced offices are renowned for their flexibility and feature short-term contracts which can start from as little as one month, and are often renewed on a rolling monthly basis. Contracts generally don’t require legal assistance and are highly flexible, allowing clients to make amendments to fit their needs. This might include upscaling or downsizing their space, adding or removing services, or extending their contract.