A Guide To Renting Office Space In London

If you want to compare hundreds of flexible office space options in London, speak to Knight Frank’s Flexible Office Solutions team. It won’t cost you a penny and they’ll manage your office search from beginning to end.

Every business needs something different from their office space. Startups who don’t know what their headcount will be in 6 months will need flexibility to shrink and grow their space. But larger businesses might prefer privacy and long-term certainty. Figuring out what you need is half the battle.

In your search for London office space, there are questions you need to ask before you begin your search, and some insider tips you need to know. Whatever you’re looking for, here’s a rundown of renting office space in London.

Before we dive in, those who work in the world of office space have a knack for falling back on jargon. From buzzwords like ‘providers’ to slightly clinical terms like ‘occupiers’, figuring out what you need can be tough. So, let’s start with jargon-busting the landscape:

Occupiers: That’s you, your team and your business. It’s anyone who ‘occupies’ the office space.

Providers: That’s who provides you with the space (think WeWork, The Office Group, Regus, Work.Life, Fora or any of the others).

Hot desk: That’s when you don’t have a desk to call home. You and your laptop move around depending on wherever’s free. You can’t really decorate it with sentimentalities like pet plants or family photos unless you carry them around with you.

Fixed desk: That’s when you do have a desk to call home. Your pet plant and family photos can stay where they are, and you can go on collecting random documents that you’re too worried to throw away.

Coworking: This is usually an option for freelancers who want to avoid the lonely hours of working in a silo, but some people use the term as a catch-all to describe the modern-day flexible office.

Flexible office space: This is the umbrella term that describes serviced, managed office space and coworking space.

Understanding your options

There are three main types of office space; traditional office space, serviced office space and managed office space. The latter two fall under the umbrella term of flexible office space.

Traditional office space

Traditional offices are great for bigger businesses who are confident in their long-term space requirements, can afford large amounts of capital outlay upfront and want a little bit of extra privacy.

In terms of upfront cost, you’ll usually pay six to 12 months of rent in advance, and you’ll have to shoulder the responsibility of space planning and furnishing the office yourself.

Serviced office space

Serviced office space is great for startups and scale-ups who don’t know what their headcount is going to be in a year (or even a few months). They’re quick to find and move in to, and you won’t have to pay any upfront fees.

It comes with additional benefits which range from humble free fruit, through to slightly more extraordinary perks like yoga classes and sleep pods.

Managed office space

Managed office spaces are great for bigger, more established businesses who need some flexibility in term length and want to make their office a home, but don’t have the time, expertise or appetite to take on the burden of delivering a fully functional office space themselves.

You’ll work with the managed office provider to achieve a personalised space that they’ll deliver for you. You’re usually in a managed office space space for one to five years.

How to Find the Right Office

Amanda Lim, Head of Knight Frank’s Flexible Office Solutions, a team of experts dedicated to finding your perfect office space, has been helping businesses of all shapes and sizes with their search for years. According to Amanda, there’s a list of questions you need to answer before moving.

“It’s worth asking yourself how long you can commit for, how many desks you need, where you want to be, what your budget is and what your office culture is like. At first, these questions will help narrow down your search to traditional or flexible, and then guide you from there. For example, if you can’t commit to 3 years, if your headcount is going to change and you can’t confidently discuss your business plan beyond two years, then you should probably opt for flexible office space.”

She continued, “The other questions help us compile your shortlist. The reason we ask how many desks you need rather than how many people you need to house is because many businesses opt for agile or dynamic working – where teams can hot desk around the office or work from breakout spaces or even from home. Some businesses want each employee to have their own fixed desk.”
Because each provider has a different atmosphere, your culture needs to align with the right environment. Some workspaces are highly collaborative and offer networking events all week-long. Others are really corporate and highly professional. “Take creative agencies, for example. They’ll want collaborative environments with breakout spaces, innovative designs like winding staircases that inspire creativity and room to showcase their innovation.”

Likewise, location plays a key role. Amanda explained that “FinTech startups historically choose the City’s fringe, from Farringdon to Shoreditch because they value networking with their own industry-cluster and being close to the City’s core – a place financial firms and VCs call home. On the other hand, hedge funds and private equity businesses hunt down postcodes in Mayfair because it signals prestige and puts them near their clients.”


This article was written by Knight Frank’s Flexible Office Solutions team.

To always stay in the loop on the changing world of work, find productivity hacks and explore business thought-leadership, head to the Knight Frank Flexible Office Solutions blog.

Are you a small business of up to 30 looking to rent an office in a coworking space? Book a tour of a Work.Life coworking space here. Or if you’re a team of 30+ looking for a managed office space, get in touch to find out more.

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