A serviced office comes pre-prepared with all the facilities and services a business might need in order to start work as soon as they arrive. Whilst core services such as a manned reception, secretarial staff, executive furnishings and a networking infrastructure tend to be included as standard, there are usually numerous optional facilities that are available for an extra fee.
Highlighted below are some of the key points relating to serviced offices.
Because services and facilities can be requested on an ‘à la carte’ basis, this type of office can be tailored to suit the precise needs of your business, regardless of size or budget. This means that while some services are charged for, you will have a far wider pool of services and facilities at your disposal. In addition, you will not be charged unnecessarily for services which you do not require.
Tenancy agreements are usually made for between 3 and 12 months and can be cancelled or revised with little or no financial penalty. If the business expands and wishes to increase its office space a serviced office agreement can accommodate this; likewise, the office space may be reduced. This makes serviced offices ideal for small to medium sized businesses wanting to get a foothold in Hong Kong and for larger companies wanting to experiment with a new office location or find a home for a set period of time.
Location and address
Most serviced offices are located in the city’s main business districts and occupy some of the most prestigious office buildings that Hong Kong has to offer. Having a recognisable address in the heart of one of the world’s most prominent business centres can lend credibility and stature to a company from the moment they arrive. There is also the added benefit of being in such close quarters to so many other businesses and institutions and the possibilities for collaboration and networking that this brings.
Whilst the month-to-month cost of a serviced office may be more than its non-serviced cousin, the fact that so many amenities are included in the price and that there is nothing to pay for setup or maintenance makes this a very attractive option for those on a restricted budget, or wishing to test the market before committing to a more permanent solution. In addition, all of the charges will appear on a single bill.
The key factors determining the basic cost of a property are its location, size and duration of the tenancy. Where leases are set up for more than 12 months, the tenant has a reasonable amount of leverage in terms of negotiating a lower rental fee.
Lease terms of serviced offices in Hong Kong generally require a security deposit equivalent to two months’ rental fees. This is retained if the tenant breaks the terms of the lease agreement or owes money at the end of the lease period. Otherwise, the deposit is returned when the lease period ends. However, this upfront cost is incomparable with the huge cost involved in setting up a conventional style office from scratch.
Interactivity and networking
Most serviced offices form part of a larger office centre with numerous other businesses under the same roof. This setup lends itself to creating a vibrant and kinetic business environment in which employees from different companies are able to collaborate and share ideas for mutual benefit.
With the office space set up and ready to go before the contracts are even signed, tenants are able to move in and start work more or less straight away meaning no time is lost laying cables or hiring support staff.
The contracts for these types of offices are far simpler than those for conventional office space. Contracts for serviced offices generally consist of only one- or two-page documents and are written in plain language – removing the need for costly solicitors and speeding up the setting up process considerably. When renting space in a serviced office, your business could be set up and moved in within a week or two.
General points regarding serviced offices
When considering setting up your business within a serviced office, it is essential to check which facilities and services are included and which have additional charges attached. In addition, it would be prudent to establish what the exact charges are and to ensure that the office in question is able to meet your specific requirements. For example, can the meeting room accommodate all of your staff who would be expected to attend regular meetings? Does the office allow for slight business expansion?
Another factor to consider with care is the district in which the office is located. Do you wish to set up within an area which is mixed in terms of business types, or one which is popular with a specific type of business? Which area would best suit your business needs and company profile? Does this area also satisfy any leisure requirements?
Serviced offices are beneficial to a diverse range of businesses. Some companies do not require a permanent office base and might look to a serviced office to rent during certain timeframes. Such businesses include construction companies – working on a specific development – and fashion houses – requiring a base from which to showcase their upcoming collections to potential retailers. Renting a traditional office space would be impractical in these situations and serviced offices therefore provide the perfect solution.
Many businesses will, at times, wish to try out a new market. Setting up can be a costly venture and, without any guarantee of success, perhaps a risky one. Many companies choose to make use of serviced offices in order to test the water before deciding whether to set up a permanent base in a new location. Other companies may just need a temporary base; for example, when their permanent office is undergoing refurbishment.
One type of business which perhaps has most to gain is the new start-up. For many new companies the capital investment required to set up and furnish a new office facility is out of reach. This would certainly be the case for many such businesses looking to set up in the high profile areas of Hong Kong. Such businesses might face the prospect of setting up in an unsuitable area in order to cut costs. A serviced office alleviates this problem by providing a fully equipped office, which requires very little up front expenditure and could be located in a more prestigious area – instantly raising the company’s profile and business image.
Overall, serviced offices provide a convenient solution for a wide range of businesses and offer exceptional services and facilities – often in sought after locations which would otherwise be out of reach for many companies. They enable businesses to get set up extremely quickly and with little long term commitment. For many businesses, the higher running costs may be worthwhile when bearing all these factors in mind.
Non-serviced offices are properties that are available to lease for a fixed term (usually at least two years) without any infrastructure or services included. This type of office is usually the reserve of larger companies who are able to make an initial investment in the setup and commissioning of their office space with a view to remaining in the building for several years. The main benefits of this type of office space include:
Lower on-going running costs, once the initial setup costs have been covered.
Whilst most serviced offices are gathered around Hong Kong’s main business districts, non-serviced offices can be established and maintained just about anywhere there is a property large enough to accommodate the size of company it is intended for.
The fact that non-serviced office spaces are not set up before the tenant arrives means that they can be fitted out exactly as needed by the company to their individual specification.
General points regarding non-serviced offices
Essentially, a conventional non-serviced office provides a greater range of choices to the business owner. There will be a larger number of properties available, within a much wider geographical area. Company signage and décor will be more prominent and specifically tailored to match the style of the business in question.
Overall, costs should be lower, but there will be a much greater initial outlay and a longer financial commitment.
Day-to-day running costs will fall on the tenant and there will be a number of separate bills to deal with. Issues such as reception staffing, maintenance and cleaning will need to be addressed by the tenant. In addition, the business may need to look to external companies or hotels for conference and meeting facilities – both of which can be costly.
Conventional leases are far more complex – and lengthy – than those for serviced offices and it is therefore advisable to instruct a solicitor to scrutinise the lease documents before signing anything. This, together with the time taken to fit out the property, will make the set up time much more lengthy than for serviced offices.
The start up costs involved in setting up a conventional office are high. This will often make this option prohibitively expensive for small or new businesses, but can prove more beneficial for larger and more established companies who require bespoke premises and can afford the initial capital outlay. The non-serviced option allows for greater freedom and control over the property’s location and styling – which can result in the business looking more professional than in a shared serviced office location.
More information: Introduction | Business districts of Hong Kong | Featured office centres