Your first office space: Choosing the right location and size

Your first office space: Choosing the right location and size

Posted: Fri 20th Oct 2023

If you're moving your business out of home or looking for better premises, there are plenty of factors to consider, from location to cost.

In this blog, we look at why it's so important to:

  • base your business in a place that's best for you, your staff and your customers

  • find office space that gives you all the room you need to work productively and grow

Deciding to move out

If your business is outgrowing the spare room or home study, the time may have come to start looking for larger, more suitable premises.

There are many reasons why small enterprises choose to venture out of home – for example, you may be taking on employees, or perhaps you need adequate space to meet with clients. It could be as simple as avoiding distractions at home.

In any case, the decision to move out is a sign that your business is doing well. And moving into premises for the first time can be one of the most important growth steps for a small firm.

But how do you go about finding that ideal first office space to enable you to thrive and aspire to be the best you can? The first consideration is location.

Choosing the right location

Although spacious office space isn't a necessity to get a business off the ground, it can give you the impetus to broaden your horizons, expand your business plans and take on new staff that can add a new dimension to your overall operation.

It's important to create the perfect working environment, not only for yourself but for your workforce too. The premises need to be within easy reach for staff as well as customers and clients, and they also need to benefit from nearby amenities and internal facilities that can breed professionalism and improve efficiency.

Identify your customer base

Whether or not you're moving into a town or city you're familiar with, it's vital to ascertain who your customers and clients are and where they're located.

Although the internet means businesses can be available and contactable 24/7, never underestimate having a visible presence within your target demographic.

Research the local community

Before deciding to set up camp in a particular location, make a point of investigating the wider community. Note the success rate of local businesses. The last thing you want is to be situated within a host of boarded-up, empty premises.

Research the surrounding area and its nightlife. If there is a particularly active social scene in the community, be aware as this may pose extra security risks.

Liaise with other small-business owners in the area and pick their brains about the neighbourhood's pros and cons to give you the overall picture.

Pinpoint the competition

How important this is depends on the type of business you are. It's less crucial for online-only firms to worry about where their competitors are based. But for retail and service businesses, a competitor analysis is key.

Is there an opportunity to acquire business space that gives you a competitive edge? Particularly if you're moving into an almost-saturated market, setting aside enough marketing resources to make a name for yourself is imperative.

Vanity vs suitability

It can be very easy for new business owners to get carried away and search for flashy, trendy office space that's far too expensive for a fledgling company. Rather than focusing too much on vanity, find the right balance between image and practicality.

In London, for example, it can be hard for new businesses to get a foothold in the right business community because of expensive lease rates and high demand (particularly in central London).

Nevertheless, you can find attractive, modern commercial properties on the fringes of leading business communities that still provide strategic business advantages with more affordable rates.

Finding the right size of office

When choosing your first office, you must consider not just what floor space you need now, but what you'll require in the medium term to allow for expansion. Before you put pen to paper on that exciting first lease, think about the following:


Does your chosen office space have a dedicated reception area to entertain clients and customers? If it doesn't, you may need to pencil a reception area into the floor plan before you even begin to consider office layouts.

You may, however, not even need a reception area, in which case you can put this extra space to good use.


Some cables will need raised flooring in order to meet health and safety standards. Find out whether there are any elevated structural floors to allow you to plan for passing and routing mechanical services and cables.

Consider where workstations will be, and how close they are to plugs and connectors. It's likely to be a health and safety hazard if you have bare wires lying across the floor.

Rather than elevated structural floors, you could avoid trailing cables by placing equipment away from walkways and use cable guards to cover leads or pin them along skirting boards.


Most floor plans include toilet and kitchen space. For example, if an agent informs you of an office with 3,000 square feet of floor space, this may not mean you have the full amount to play with.

Alternatively, you may be renting office space in business centres that include communal toilet and kitchen facilities. In this case, you won't have to worry about factoring this into your available floor space.

Floor plate shape

Would you prefer an office with space on one floor or several storeys? The shape of the office floor plate will influence the number of desks you can fit into each room. An oddly-shaped space potentially increases the overall cost per employee per square foot.

Fire exits

Does your chosen premises have up-to-date fire plans? Make sure the property has the correct number of fire escapes in the event of an emergency. If it doesn't, ascertain whether you'll need to make major structural changes to get the office up to standard.

Disabled access

You must make sure your office space meets the current regulations laid out in the Equality Act 2010 (the Disability Discrimination Act in Northern Ireland). This is particularly significant if you already employ disabled staff members.

The regulations ultimately improve access and circulation within working environments. A floor plan with good accessibility doesn't need to be a static document. Instead, you should see it as something that evolves throughout the time you occupy your office space.

Relevant resources

Enterprise Nation has helped thousands of people start and grow their businesses. Led by founder, Emma Jones CBE, Enterprise Nation connects you to the resources and expertise to help you succeed.

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