How to Choose Business Premises for Shared-Service Workshops


The rationale behind this kind of provision is that survival rates among small firms could be considerably improved by making available on-site a range of business advisory, secretarial and other services which small firms could not afford for their own exclusive use but which can be afforded on a collective basis. Examples of such schemes can be found in both the public and private sectors. The buildings, usually refurbished premises, are often arranged on a ‘rent-a-bench’ or open-plan basis with movable partitions separating the units.

The services provided vary but generally they fall into three main groups:

1. Office services, including typing, photocopying and telephone answering;

2. Property related services including items such as main­tenance, heating, lighting and insurance;

3. Business services, usually taking the form of an on-hand adviser who will provide advice directly and suggest other agencies if more specialist information or guidance is required.

Choose Business Premises

The main advantages of this kind of accommodation lie not only in the sharing of services but in the sharing of experience and in the mutual assistance and co-operation which a community environment can engender. The main disadvantages lie in security problems (especially in open-plan layouts) and sometimes in the general level of noise and distraction.

Shared-service developments have grown rapidly in number over recent years and most large towns now have at least one such scheme. Well-known examples include Birmingham’s New Enterprise workshops, Dryden Street in Covent Garden, the Avondale workshops in Bristol, the Manor Employment Project in Sheffield, the Barnsley Enterprise Centre and the Clyde workshops in Glasgow.

Another, recently opened, workspace scheme is Enterprise Plymouth. A former Rank-Toshiba factory was purchased and converted into 92 units by Plymouth City Council. The units, separated by shoulder-high concrete partitions, each have a lockable door and range from 140 to 1,250 square feet. Rental charges vary between £5.50 and £7.20 per square foot. The rents are a composite figure and include rates, background heating and lighting, a property service and security charge and a standard business advisory charge. The only ‘extras’ are the individual’s own telephone bill and the electricity consumed within each unit. There is no formal lease and tenants can quit at 24 hours’ notice. Within the building there are typing, printing, accountancy and other services which are provided by business tenants on a commercial, ‘pay-as-used’ basis.

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About the Author: Marie Mayle is a contributor to the MegaHowTo team, writer, and entrepreneur based in California USA. She holds a degree in Business Administration. She loves to write about business and finance issues and how to tackle them.

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