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Moving from home base to 'real' office

13th Mar 2017
AccountingWEB
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I notice that Neophyte (fellow blogger) has taken the plunge and moved from a home based office to a 'real' office (See Neophye's blog here).

Like many accweb members I too work from home and haven't found the take up number of clients too bad but like Glennzy (who commented to Neophyte's blog) I am wondering whether the type of client that working from home attracts is only looking for cheapness as they think costs are low etc etc. Also that they think you are there at their beck and call... whenever ... and expect an answer immediately. I know its called 'giving a personal service' but sometimes they take it too far. I dont have the problem that Glennzy said he had of clients just 'dropping in when passing by' but I do think he is right about a separate non home office giving a good impression.

I find I am at the other end of the scale from Glennzy in that he found it difficult to work at home. I get up and go straight into the (exbedroom) office and am working there all hours. I do stop at 6pm but find that I am increasingly working at the weekend so there's no 'cut off' point. What puts me off from getting a separate town based office (apart from the additional cost, of course), is that I don't really want to have to get in the car to the nearest town which is 20 mins drive away, get stuck in traffic and possibly have to spend a fortune in parking. 

But the blog made me think. I have a client who is UK resident but works abroad a lot of the time. She has taken a virtual office in London for a nominal amount a week to at least give the impression that she is London based plus it's somewhere to take in any post as her home is rented out. I wouldn't want post redirected (no one sends by post nowadays and the number of letters will reduce even further with MTD on the horizon) and I already have a separate office phone number (although nearly all my clients make contact by mobile). It's the separate office address that I'm interested in.

So with that in mind I've just spent a couple of hours searching the internet for such things as 'virtual offices' in my locality. The result of my search is that I found a Regis office about 15 mins drive from my house in a very modern Business Park. I had heard of Regus but hadn't realised that they were so close to my home base. They offer a variety of services including hourly office rental for meetings. The website says you can 'plug in and work' and the picture of the offices gives a very good impression. Plus parking is free.

I've put in for a call with them tomorrow for the Professional Address service first off  to see what they say.

 

Replies (13)

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Glenn Martin
By Glenn Martin
13th Mar 2017 15:58

A good blog Jennifer, I would have definately looked at the virtual office as a half way house before managing to find the office I have.

My office is 2 miles away from me so I could walk if I wanted to and has free parking which is rare for the town I am based in.

Regus are very good but also expensive they can answer calls etc on your behalf and take messages, you can also arrange for clients to drop books off with them.

What I looked at initially was a openspace membership you can have which was about £70 per month and you could use a desk in the open area (there maybe others also working there) with free wifi etc. If you ask the people who run it they may also do some marketing for you if no other accountants in the building they will put leaflets etc into the other tenants pigeon holes for you.

The quality of client I started to sign up when in office went up a lot, it also vastly improved my google search hits also.

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By mrme89
13th Mar 2017 16:38

I've only heard of Regus because they get quite a bit of stick on UK Business Forums.

Here are a couple of examples:
http://www.ukbusinessforums.co.uk/threads/awful-service-from-regus.124306/

http://www.ukbusinessforums.co.uk/threads/regus-business-world-any-revie...

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Jennifer Adams
By Jennifer Adams
13th Mar 2017 17:00

Thx for your post mrme89 but I notice that the anti comments on the links you quoted were all dated years ago - none current.

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By ireallyshouldknowthisbut
13th Mar 2017 17:59

I have done both, but I think it all comes down to you in terms of managing your time.

only you can decide when you work, and what the triggers are for stopping. I have been promising myself weds afternoons off for 12 years and its not happened despite beating every revenue target I have ever set myself.

Anyhow 6pm, we are now officially closed, time for the long commute across my back hall into the main house for small children's TV and either some lovely cuddles and a book, or some screaming. Probably both.

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By mrme89
13th Mar 2017 18:04

Trust Pilot...

Latest review from 5 days ago:

Contacted regus about requiring an office from them. Of course we can help you they said what ever your budget we can accommodate you.
I explained that we were a non profit organisation who help others and rely on donations.
Told the person who contacted me what our finances were for each month so we agreed to meet and be shown around there offices.
That's when everything changed what we were offered on the phone and email was completely different. For a start the rent was 5 times higher than first offered. All the extra services that were included were actually an extra charge.
Stay away from these vultures don't give them your business if you want to stay in business

The next review dated 2nd March:

This company should be avoided by any small business. If two years of dreadful customer service and incorrect billing wasnt bad enough, Regus have topped this by illegally disposing of my belongings whilst my contract was coming to an end. I was renting my Office and Regus wanted to accommodate a large government contract. So they seized my office, redecorated it and disposed of my belongings which included business records, office supplies and research data. My office was locked and the cupboards were locked. And I stress my office was rented and the rent was fully paid and up to date. This happened a few days ago. I went to the office to find it empty. All they can do is say sorry and speak to your contents insurer. No response to the breach of contract and the potential loss to my business over and above the contents. What about the business records? What will my clients think? They have no idea where my records/belongings are and who took them. They can provide no assurance that the records have been destroyed. They have offered no support. They have left me high and dry. This could happen to you. Imagine turning up to your office one day to find it completely empty......Thank God that my main clients records had been moved and that I had not left my laptop in the office.

MY RESPONSE TO REGUS
In response to Regus I have been told that the Area Director can't take charge of my complaint and that I must deal with an area manager OR customer services only. However, I have been told that the Area Directors says sorry. Not that he has made any attempt to contact me personally despite being well aware of the problem. Clearly the unauthrorised disposal of a company's business records, office equipment and supplies is not a serious enough matter. I have been told that contractors/decorators/removals are given a master key to allow them access to any office in the building. The Area Manager doesn't even recognise that the terms of my contract have been broken. Nowhere in my contract does it warn me that Regus can seize my office at any time and dispose of my belongings whilst it is being rented....

One after that dated 26th February:

I'm not sure where to begin.

My wife and I run a very small family print and design business. We moved into Houldsworth Mill in Stockport in November 2014 as we were expecting another baby and needed the space.

Everything was fine to begin with but as time moved on things deteriorated. A very poorly executed broadband migration, often disgusting and poorly maintained facilities and maintenance neglect left us no alternative but to leave. The fresh air system to our room failed during the summer months and still hadn't been fixed by the time we moved out. We often had to abandon work for the day and work from home due to excessive temperatures. Our room was internal (no windows) with just the door as air ventilation. During inspection by the fire brigade, we were advised to keep the door shut as it was a fire door.

Fortunately we moved to a new house with more space. We couldn't be happier working from home again.

Just when we thought the nightmare was over, we were invoiced for dilapidation and business continuity charges. Well - we were furious. The room was spotless and was immediately re-let. The business continuity charges weren't applicable as our phone system was VOIP.

Our centre manager told us (on the phone) she'd waive the charges due to our poor experience. We then received an email telling us that the charges stood following instruction from her manager.

I'm still unsure how I can be invoiced for a dilapidation and business continuity charge when no work was carried out? As a small business owner I dream of invoicing for not doing any work.

I have emailed the centre managers line manager and director of customer services. I haven't had a response from either.

Please take my advice. Stay away from Regus.

The first four or five reviews on TP are rated one star. I couldn't be bothered to scroll beyond that on my phone!

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bike
By FirstTab
13th Mar 2017 21:41

You do not need to get in your car. Just get a bike or use your bike if you have one. Within 5 miles is easy. Over 5, can be done. I use to cycle 13 miles each way when I was an employee. That was too much for me.

Working from home is a lifestyle business. I do not know if that is your preference.

I cannot think of anything worse than working from home. I did it for about a year or so. I did not like a single minute of it. I should have got an office from day 1.

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Replying to FirstTab:
Man of Kent
By Kent accountant
14th Mar 2017 09:37

Define 'lifestyle business' FT.

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Sarah Douglas - HouseTree Business Ltd
By sarah douglas
13th Mar 2017 23:45

Hi Jennifer

We now on our 4th year in a office. It has been really successful. My advice would be get a office where there are loads of businesses. We are in a
business centre .

Make sure you can afford it or the new business will cover it . Maybe start off small and then get bigger. Make sure your not stung for example I share a kitchen and share toilet facilities in the business centre. I have a separate kitchen area in office but just wash up in share kitchen , keep water rates to minimum , especially in Scotland with Business stream .

Is their vat on your rent if so you can claim if back, if register . My office is 550 sq feet , heating is included but if it was not that would make a big difference . Make sure you rateable value is low.

I agree with others about Regis . Their are so many other good choices. It is easy for people to work out if you are virtual office google maps shows that up in seconds.

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avatar
By schocca
14th Mar 2017 10:30

I use a virtual office (I have remote clients + spend days on client site - so a physical office is a waste at the moment).

Three pieces of advice I can give:
1) There are a lot of serviced office providers in most towns apart from the big 3. Look around and use google.
2) Be careful with services such as phones - you are locking yourself into those public numbers and may up paying a lot long term as the numbers are owned by the serviced office.
- Consider a VOIP service such as RingCentral, 8x8, etc... from day one and run it from your mobile... That way, your company phone number never needs to change.
3) Same thing with email, backup services, etc...

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Hallerud at Easter
By DJKL
14th Mar 2017 13:37

I must admit a home office is not ideal but given I only operate evenings and weekends, as still go to work Mon-Fri, if I did go for another office I would never be home. (loud celebrations from family ensue)

I really missed my opportunity about two years ago, a small office, but with vast dry basement storage, came up for sale at the end of the street where I live, about 200 yards from our front door. It was cheap to buy but did have the potential for a reasonably high shared roof repair which put me off a purchase, possibly this was a mistake as I do waste time meeting clients at their premises etc (Never at my house the only client I have ever let across the front door is my sister/brother in law, and at times not even convinced with them it is a good idea.)

An office at home can be convenient but the cut off between working/not working does get blurred, the paperwork can engulf as limited space and other events in the house do disturb, even from downstairs; on the positive side there is no problem having a malt and smoking a cigar at one's desk at the end of the evening.

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Man of Kent
By Kent accountant
16th Mar 2017 15:19

Office at home in converted barn - separate from the house.

Occasional use (3-4 times a month) of co-working office space in a local town - good for google and meeting clients.

No need for a proper office - never had any issues with being perceived as cheap. I have the separation of work/home and the benefits of being 'at home' if I'm needed.

In fact most clients have never been to my office and there are a few I've never met. With the increased use of cloud software/technology I can see the latter category increasing disproportionately.

My (p/time) staff do most of their work remotely with one half day a week in the office to catch up/review/plan/train.

Most of the time its just me and the dogs

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Neophyte
By Neophyte
16th Mar 2017 17:42

Hi Jennifer. Thanks for the mention in the article. I guess it all comes down to your personal choice and deciding what works best. If it's just yourself and you are happy working from home why not employ a virtual office and PA to answer the phone and triage enquiries?

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Jennifer Adams
By Jennifer Adams
16th Mar 2017 20:30

mrme98 - your comments were an eye opener - what a nightmare. So perhaps I'll give Regus a wide birth...

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