According to a briefing paper (PDF) published by the House of Commons Library in 2018, London and the South East are two of the places in the UK that see the highest rate of new business startups year on year in comparison to the rest of the UK. In 2016 the largest number of “business births” occurred in London with a figure of 102,140 London startup companies. In the South East (Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, East Sussex, Hampshire, the Isle of Wight, Kent, Oxfordshire, Surrey and West Sussex) the number of new businesses launched was 55,960. In 2017, London again had the highest number of start-ups at 92,000, followed by 51,965 in the South East. Year on year, London and the South East are the two leading areas where a startup company is likely to begin.
However as prevalent as business startup companies are in London and the South East, some of these businesses find it hard to survive and thrive. Information published by the Office for National Statistics in 2017 shows London had the highest startup company death rate at 14.2%. The South East showed a death rate of 10.4%. Of course startups can fail due to a wide range of reasons. The top 10 of which are discussed in an article by the Growth Institute and include:
- scaling up too fast, a lack of focus or alignment (choosing what to do in terms of services and equally important – choosing what not to do)
- hiring too fast (employing staff that do not fit with the company culture which can in turn hurt and damage company morale)
- mistaking leadership for management (leadership and management do not necessarily employ the same qualities)
- not setting long term goals
- saying yes to every customer request (which may result in over promising and under delivering)
- focussing on marketing (too little or too late)
- postponing the next round of funding too long
- not being agile in responding to market demand
- lacking a scalable infrastructure.
As the Growth Institute explains, businesses “need to have the right infrastructure in place” this includes physical space “in order to keep the pace and make optimal use of your company’s momentum.”
At JBH Refurbishments we believe that office space is a crucial element in the success of any startup company. Having the right office space in terms of office design, layout and office refurbishment can make or break the success of a startup company and whether they will continue to achieve and grow. We know this to be true as the right office space can have a huge impact on office productivity. We’ve published a number of articles on this including “How Your Kent or London Office Design Can Tackle the Top Killers of Productivity” and “Survey Reveals How To Increase Productivity Through Commercial Office Refurbishment”.
Essential Elements For a Startup Company
Below we’ve outlined what we believe to be the essential elements that every Kent or London startup company needs as part of their office space planning, design and refurbishment:
As with any business a strong planning and budgeting process is key. This is likely to be even more essential in the case of a startup. From the location to the refurbishment costs, to the cost of fittings, fixtures and furnishings, all purchases have to represent a good investment.
To that aim you’ll want to look for office space where you are not paying a premium and which provides good value for money. When it comes to refurbishing multi-purpose purchases can also help to stretch your budget further. Keeping a tight rein on the budget will be necessary to guarantee that all purchases ensure a good ROI.
Location, Location, Location
When it comes to business, we’ve no doubt you’ll have heard the phrase “Location, Location, Location.” No one knows where the phrase comes from but it’s thought to have originated as far back as 1926, so it’s nearly 100 years old and is clearly as true today as it was then and throughout the years.
Business location will always be important. Starting off in the right location, when you’re trying to establish your business, is vital.
If you rely on foot traffic you’ll want your business to be conveniently located near your target audience to make it as convenient as possible for them to visit you. For other types of businesses this might not be as important. You need to consider how accessible and convenient your business will be to your staff and your suppliers so they can easily find and reach you. It’s also worth thinking about how easy it will be for site visitors to park and for suppliers to off-load. Does the location come with parking facilities? Is the location near amenities e.g. places to eat, shops, day care for your employees, gym facilities etc.?
Being in the “right location” is also important when it comes to brand visibility.
Building Your Brand Identity Within Your Office
Your office space is a great place to reflect your brand and your identity. Think about the feeling you want to evoke in your staff as well as any visitors to your office. This can be done through the choices you make in the decor (colours, furnishings and the fabrics) you use throughout your workspace.
Don’t forget how you portray your brand is what may set you apart from your competition in the eyes of your customers.
Think About Your Business Needs
Start by thinking about what your business requirements are. Consider how many desks you need and how many offices will be required. Will some of your staff require separate offices? To decide this look at whether your staff need space to do quiet work or work which requires privacy i.e. work which is confidential.
If collaboration is a priority then an open plan environment may better suit your business practices. An open office space is one of the most effective ways to encourage team interaction. An open plan layout also ensures that staff can more easily communicate with one another and exchange ideas allowing for spontaneous brainstorming.
Think about meeting room, conference space or collaboration areas. Look at having breakout space and/or kitchen or tea area facilities / areas in your office design. We discuss this in more depth in the “Look After Your Staff” section.
You will also need to consider whether you need a reception area or a space to meet with clients or visitors to the business.
Don’t forget storage space and space for utilities. Do you have a lot of paper files or electronic backups that require storage, do you use stationery or printing supplies that need to be stored? It’s important to factor in storage space when looking at your required office size.
Plan for Startup Company Growth
Many startups fail because they don’t prepare for the challenges of growth. Every successful business looks to grow as it takes on more business and expands to meet that demand so while you’re thinking about the amount of office space you’ll need now you should also factor in future expansion space.
There’s no point in finding the perfect office space only to find that within a few months you need to start the process all over again when you run of space to expand. Ideally your business plan should take into account short term and long term business growth giving you a good idea on how much space, and how quickly you’ll need it, in the future.
Build in Flexibility To Help Your Startup Company Grow
Following on from planning for growth, building in flexibility for potential growth within your office space, is also vital. This can be factored into your plans in various ways, a few of which are outlined below:
- If you avoid fixed, permanent partitions and instead look to moveable partitions and other flexible furnishings e.g. modular desk systems and flexible workstations that can be expanded and modular seating areas these can be rearranged to suit multiple business requirements.
- Storage walls can be used as partitioning as well as for storage providing you with the flexibility to rearrange your office space as and when required.
- Using space to provide multi-functional purposes can also provide for potential growth e.g. a comfortable seating area can act as a break out area for staff, as a client waiting area or a collaboration space. This flexibility enables your business to utilise the same space for multiple purposes.
Look After Your Staff
Richard Branson famously said ‘Learn to look after your staff first and the rest will follow’. With this thought in mind startups should plan to move into office space and design it to meet their staff needs. Knowing this before embarking on any office setup or refurbishment project will give your startup company business an advantage.
As we’ve mentioned previously staff health and well-being is essential to a company’s productivity. There are numerous studies showing that office space can affect our productivity, creativity and mood. Given that many staff will spend on average 8.9 hours in the office which for most people is longer than they sleep; it’s important that your office space is somewhere that your staff wants to spend time.
To achieve a workplace where staff want to be, you need to think about a number of elements including:
Reducing office noise
Office noise has been shown to be a problem that affects many staff. According to research by the Danish National Research Centre for Working Environment and others, 60% of employees say that noise is the single most disturbing factor which affects their ability to work productively. Fortunately there are a number of office design solutions which can help to cut down the noise level within an office including acoustic screens, dividers or partition walls which will act as barriers, absorbing unwanted noise. Having a break-out area where staff can go to get away from excessive noise and to relax, take some downtime or simply step away from their computers is also essential in any office space.
Being able to control your office temperature is important to staff comfort. In research by Dell 35% of office workers ranked office temperature as their top problem when it comes to productivity. These findings were backed up by research by Fellowes and Andrews Air Conditioning. The survey by Andrews Air Conditioning also found that approximately 2% of office hours in the UK were wasted due to temperature issues which is the equivalent of or £13 billion a year. Clearly having the right HVAC system within your building and office areas is vital to keeping staff happy.
Having the right technology
In today’s workplace, technology plays a vital role. Without technology businesses would struggle to thrive or survive. Therefore when it comes to an office refurbishment, technology should be an important part of the office design, not an afterthought.
Natural lighting / Biophilic design
Human beings are naturally drawn to nature. It’s hard wired into our genes. We perform better when we are in natural settings. In fact the presence of natural elements can have a significant impact on the creativity and productivity of staff.
Simple changes like including plants in the design of an office and making the most of natural light can have a huge impact on staff health and wellbeing and productivity. These changes have been demonstrated to reduce stress, blood pressure levels, heart rates and depression and lead to less absenteeism and fewer illnesses. We also know that natural light has been shown to regulate some disorders including SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder).
Mental Health Research UK (MHRUK) estimate that 1 million working hours are lost each year due to seasonal affective (SAD), or winter depression. Dr Laura Davidson, a Barrister with a Ph.D in mental health law and human rights and a Founding Trustee of MHRUK explains “Employers and educational establishments need to take on board just how important natural light is to good mental health. They have a responsibility to ensure that work and study environments have sufficient windows to flood the building with as much natural light as possible. Employers could help by encouraging workers to take lunch breaks and ensuring darker areas without windows are well lit”.
Helpful Hints for Your Startup Company
Many of the points above may help your startup company take its first steps in finding the best physical space and refurbishing it for success. You can also read our advice on Office Relocation (location) Support, Planning a Refurbishment and Finance and Leasing.
Of course having a professional office refurbishment company like JBH Refurbishments by your side can also make all the difference when it comes to making the right decisions regarding office space, design and office refurbishment.
If you are a startup looking to find your first office space and need advice on what your first/next steps should be, take advantage of JBH Refurbishments 25+ years of expertise in carrying out office refurbishments by contacting us via our contact form or calling us on 0333 207 0339.