A colourful breakout space in the Runway East Borough Market office with comfy chairs and plants everywhere

How to Choose a Startup Office Space

Runway East

3rd February 2022


  • Your startup has outgrown its space in the founder's garage

  • You always go to the client’s office for meetings

  • Your team is starting to burn out from working remotely 

  • Or the old camping kettle is on its last legs

... these might be signs that it's time to start looking for a new office space. 

However, choosing an office can be tricky. It's hard to forecast how much your company will grow or change in the next few years and you don’t want to be tied down to long-term contracts. And with the added uncertainty of the coronavirus pandemic, it's harder than ever to plan ahead. 

To help, here are some tips for choosing a new startup office space.

Location, location, location

Location is one of the most important things to consider when choosing your new workspace. Since the start of the pandemic and the rise of remote and hybrid working, flexibility about when and where to work has become increasingly important to most employees. And if it's important to your employees, it is important to you — you need an office space that your employees will enjoy spending time in. 

The perks of the local area are almost as important as the office space itself. The right location will play a role in how happy your team is — and whether new people want to join it. 

Are there restaurants, bars and cultural events nearby? A good excuse to socialise can really be the key to bringing a team together (we would know!). Is there green space around? Sunny days are few and far between where we are, but on those rare occasions getting outside can have a big impact on the team’s wellbeing.  

Attracting investors

Your team isn’t the only group to consider when you're picking a location for your new office space. If you're willing to relocate your company offices to a different part of the country, think about how the location might impact your business success and investment. 

For example, being based in a global hub like London can improve the reputation and likelihood of success of your startup. According to Startup Genome's 2021 Global Startup Ecosystem Report, the number one global tech startup ecosystem was Silicon Valley, followed by London and New York City in tied second place. Basing your startup in a reputable city like these can make all the difference to those looking to invest. 

London has over 1,370 venture capital firms, the highest concentration in Europe. And London-based startups have an average seed fund of approximately £487,000, compared to the £368,000 global average.

However, if London doesn't work for you, don't worry — there are many other places in the UK that are great hubs for startups. Bristol, for example, receives a lot of investment via angel investor network Bristol Private Equity Club and equity crowdfunding platform Seedrs, gaining almost £2 billion in equity funding from 2011 to the end of 2021.

The local startup community

Another factor for consideration is whether you want to move to an area where other startups are based. We’re not suggesting you move next door to your direct competitors, but having an office near other startups can be a big benefit.

You'd be able to network and collaborate with other like-minded businesses and entrepreneurs — and making organic connections would be that much easier. Locating yourself near other new businesses that cater to similar audiences as yours opens up possibilities for cross-promotion and sharing contacts, which can help your business grow. 

And there’s nothing more satisfying than moaning about a problem with someone who’s been through a similar challenge.

Commitment, cost and contracts

As you’ll know, two of the biggest challenges for startups looking for an office space are finding an affordable workspace that offers the flexibility you need. 

The size of startups can change rapidly and it can be hard to predict how much space you'll need even six or twelve months into the future. On top of that, hybrid and remote working makes it even harder to know how many of your team are likely to be in the office at any time. 

It's a dilemma. You probably don't have the budget to sign a lease on a private office large enough to allow for future growth, but you also don't want to limit yourself to something that works for now and end up outgrowing in the near future.

This is why a lot of startups operate out of coworking spaces. Coworking spaces give you the option to rent with more flexible contracts and a range of options that cater to scale-ups and changes. 

From dedicated desks and budget-friendly office shares to lockable private offices, these spaces are tailored to your ever-evolving needs.

With traditional office leases commonly fixed at multiple years, coworking leases can be a much more flexible and affordable option. 

Getting around

Of course, it doesn't matter if you have the best location in the trendiest neighbourhood if nobody can get to it. When you're choosing a space, you need to make it easy for your team and clients to get there. 

Think about whether it’s convenient for the team to commute to. Does it have good public transport links? If people are likely to drive to work, is parking available? Does the building suit all accessibility needs once people are there, for example lifts and wide doorways?

As well as the needs of your team, you should keep your company values in mind when choosing an office space. If eco-friendliness is a key value of your startup, your employees might prefer to cycle or walk to work. So, it would make sense to pick somewhere with good access to cycle lanes and bike storage instead of somewhere you can only access by car. 

Potential clients and investors might not be so impressed by your carbon-neutral business model if they have to walk through your packed car park to get to the office! 

Always judge a book…

Picking a new workspace is about more than just finding a room to shove some desks in. Your office is the physical body of the company's brand — your culture and ambition should be obvious as soon as someone walks through the door. 

The way your office space looks can not only sway potential clients but also boost your team’s motivation and satisfaction — so it’s a win win!

There’s no doubt remote working boosted productivity for some people, but it left others struggling with distractions from children and pets, as well as feeling isolated from their teams. To make people want to come back to the office, the director of MoreySmith design firm has said:

Offices should feel like 'an extension of your home, but without the chaos'. 

This means that when you're choosing your new office space, it's important to choose places that people can work better in than at home — whether that’s collaborative spaces, comfortable ergonomic chairs and desks or social break-out areas. 

Technology like high-speed internet is a must, while other features like meeting rooms, private phone booths and great office interior design might also be important to your team. 

It's not just about creating a great environment for your existing employees, having a great workspace will also help your small business attract talent in the future. 

As cool coworking spaces and big tech campus workplaces become more common, reflecting a growing trend for cool office spaces, younger generations are getting picky about where they want to work. One survey found that 21% of British millennials had turned down a job because they didn't like the office space. That’s a big deal.

Your greatest weapon 

One of the most important things an employer can do when deciding on a new office space is ask their team’s opinions. What do your people want out of their workspace? Is it networking and collaboration? Socialising? Or is it somewhere they have a desk with more space and quiet to focus than at home? Do they want somewhere in an exciting location, or do they just want to go home at the end of the day? What facilities do they need to do their jobs?

Even if you think you know exactly what your team would like, it's a good idea to have a conversation or send round a survey about what everyone wants from their dream office space. It doesn't mean your new office has to cater to everyone's desires, but it does help give you a sense of your team’s priorities and what drives them.

82% of employees have ideas about how their company could be improved, but more than a third believe that their ideas are not being listened to, one study found. To show your people they’re valued, you have to involve them in decision-making when it comes to moving to a new space. 

Why coworking spaces are your best bet

With famous startups like Uber, Spotify, Instagram (just to name a few) having started in coworking spaces, it’s proven to be a great option for your small business. More flexible than a traditional office, coworking spaces are budget-friendly and collaborative environments that help startups grow. 

Come and chat to us and see what we offer. From renting an individual desk by the month at Runway East to customisable private offices for the whole team, we’ve got you.

And whether you’re looking at central London (you can find us in Soho, London Bridge and soon Old Street (Shoreditch)) or Bristol city centre, we have something that’ll suit your needs. Check out our case studies and testimonials to learn more about why startups and entrepreneurs love us. 

Book a tour and check out one of our coworking locations today.