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Questions for SME owners: Does your office meet your needs?

For small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), using office space comes with a number of challenges and considerations.

One of the key issues to think about when leasing offices or looking for new locations to set up or expand your business is security.

Employers have a duty of care to ensure that all members of staff are safe and protected in the workplace, something that should be a priority when searching for office space or evaluating your current premises.

There are various professional services and solutions available to maximise workplace security, such as manned guarding, door access systems and CCTV surveillance.

If your business is growing, you could be approaching a point where your current premises are no longer sufficient to accommodate your workforce or the assets you need to operate efficiently.

In this situation, it is important to start the search for new office space as soon as possible, as remaining in a location that doesn't have the capacity to support your growth will reduce your efficiency and could pose security risks.

It is particularly crucial to get the search for new premises underway immediately if you are looking in London, with a recent report from professional services firm Jones Lang LaSalle (JLL) revealing that office supply in the capital is at an all-time low.

The research revealed that there are 18 million sq ft of live office requirements at the current time and only seven million sq ft of space under construction.

One of the repercussions of this 11 million sq ft shortfall in London is growing interest in regional office markets, particularly the 'big six' of Bristol, Birmingham, Leeds, Manchester, Edinburgh and Glasgow.

The JLL figures showed that 2015 saw a "surge" in pre-leasing activity in these locations, with 850,000 sq ft of office space let in 17 transactions.

By comparison, there were only 15 transactions in these six markets during the five years from 2010 to 2014.

Fourteen office schemes currently underway in Britain's 'big six' regional cities are set to deliver 2.1 million of additional space, 43 per cent of which is already pre-let.

Jeremy Richards, head of national office agency at JLL, said: "The grade A office shortage, improving corporate confidence and increased competition to attract and retain talent motivated a record number of occupiers to pursue pre-lets, which in turn is helping to address the supply gap.

"We have already seen a number of early movers nearshore to the regions; increasing connectivity, the war for talent, cost of living and agile working are all influencing factors for businesses considering a move out of the capital."

When it comes to evaluating the security features of what could be your next office, look out for potential vulnerabilities such as access points that might attract the interest of unlawful intruders.

Other possible security considerations could include lighting in quiet areas around the premises or on routes to the nearest form of public transport.

Posted by Andrew Miller

Image courtesy of Thinkstock

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