Flexible Alternatives to Traditional Office Space Leases

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Micro Office Solutions - Apr 28, 2009 - Leasing an office has always carried with it an element of risk. Before a company can enter into a long-term lease, they must first make a precise estimate of how much office space they will require over the next few years. Given the current economic climate, business owners and managers have trouble predicting what the next few months may have in store for them, let alone years. This has led many firms away from the traditional long term leases towards more flexible, month-to-month office leases from turn-key business centers.

Business Centers, also known as Virtual Offices or Shared Office Space, are companies that sublease furnished office spaces on a month-to-month basis, while still offering the same reception, conference room, mail, telephone and technology services that traditional offices come equipped with. This gives their tenants the advantage of being able to rent on a monthly basis, without incurring the costs associated with refurnishing their new offices and reinstalling other necessary office infrastructure. Different types of space may be available, ranging from a day-use desk with a footlocker for occasional use, to a dedicated cubicle or enclosed office with 24/7 access, to a larger workroom that can accommodate a larger staff. These spaces can be ideal for individuals, small businesses, or satellite or branch offices of larger companies, whether local, national, or global.

"The advantage is that you could come in from anywhere for a month to two years or more, continuing month-to-month as your company needs," says David Rotbard of Micro Office Solutions, a company that has been providing flexible office space in New York City. Since opening its first office in Midtown Manhattan in 2003, Micro Office has opened additional offices in Chelsea and the Flatiron district, as well as an additional floor in the Garment District.

However for companies like Micro Office, the ailing economy is not all good news. "It's a trickier time because while some business are downsizing into flexible solutions other smaller businesses are retreating into their homes. It kind of goes both ways."

Still, renting office space on a temporary basis can be a great way for companies to combat the uncertainty of the economic situation. Here are a few key benefits that business centers can provide:

  • Flexibility - Many companies might be facing the possibility of downsizing in the near future, and renting on a month-to-month basis can provide companies a way to avoid paying for unused space. Conversely if the company does better than predicted, business centers make it easy to increase space capacity without having to move to an entirely new office.
  • Low Move-in Cost - Business centers provide fully furnished offices with infrastructure and utilities included. This means your company will not have to spend valuable time and money moving in furniture, painting, or installing telephone lines.
  • No Long-Term Commitment - If you decide after a month that you are not happy with the location or service, there are no binding long-term agreements. You can simply pack up and go whenever you choose. The variety of types and sizes of available space at these centers also allow you to change your type of office - e.g. from a cubicle area to an enclosed space - as you develop your personal likes and dislikes from your experience..
  • Business Centers are available for a variety of budgets, and come with different levels of service. Companies evaluating such centers should shop for the price that fits their budget, but also for the image and services that fit their needs. You should feel comfortable with the atmosphere in the building lobby, reception area, and conference rooms. Find out if computers and phones are available, and what the fee structure is for their use. Check the availability and cost of business services like printers, faxes, scanners, and office assistants. Some Business Centers charge pay-as-you-go fees for these items, and the monthly costs can add up - so be sure to figure these into the budget.

    Keeping these things in mind, you may find a great long-term solution for your office space needs - or at least keep your business running smoothly until that perfect long-term lease opportunity turns up.