David Saul, managing director of leading serviced office operator Business Environment, on how entrepreneurs are expecting more from their office space.

The modern entrepreneur needs more than four walls, a phone and a computer in order to satisfy their office and meeting space requirements.

Instead, they need a package that allows them to work just as productively when they’re on the move as when they’re in the office.

A paper by the International Data Corporation (IDC) has estimated that the number of mobile workers will rise to 1.19 billion by 2013 , accounting for almost 35 per cent of the global workforce. It’s clear that uninterrupted access to broadband and the ability to stage meetings with clients will be key for many SMEs.

For some businesses, this will mean a well-equipped office and an advanced virtual office solution — both to a high specification.

We’re seeing an increasing demand for virtual desktop solutions using sophisticated cloud technology, rather than local servers, delivering a user’s desktop to them wherever in the world they access the internet.

This system stores all programs and files on powerful servers and backs up data in real time, ensuring customers have complete peace of mind.

Also popular with start-ups and sole traders is our call handling service, in which our switchboard answers calls using our clients’ business names, before putting the call through, giving the impression that they are larger companies — crucial for gaining initial contracts and confidence.

Future innovations for the system include the ability for clients to inform us at the touch of a button that they’re in a meeting and that a message should be taken, rather than putting a call through.

This need for flexibility and mobility has led to us offering meeting rooms that can be hired by the hour, half-day and full day, booked online in under three minutes.
Available from just £5 an hour, these are completely inclusive, meaning no extra cost for refreshments, Wi-Fi or presentation and TV screens.

Another important feature of the best serviced offices — something that perhaps doesn’t get the attention it deserves — is the provision for different businesses within the office to effectively network with each other.

This is something we’re constantly building on and our customers increasingly seeing the benefits of sharing an office building with like-minded small businesses.

A recent example of this is an environmental organisation using our office space that has met with a firm of transport planners situated next door, which might lead to work in the future.

The way companies can be provided with suppliers they know and trust, or new business leads on their doorstep, can become a big part of successful serviced office package. Offline and online, we’re striving to improve how knowledge is shared and discussion facilitated between our customers.
The four walls of an office is just the start — the complete package can enhance every aspect of a business, from its perception to its productivity, boosting its overall success.