The Secret Of Serviced Offices

Serviced offices are ideal for start-ups, writes Prajit Arora, managing director of Sentinel Business Centres.

It is not surprising that huge ranges of businesses in Dubai are electing to use serviced offices today. Many new, but not necessarily small businesses cannot accurately predict their headcount figures over a two or three year time span. These companies take flexible offices in a serviced office facility where they will be able to take additional space when it is needed. A traditional office may feature in the next stage of their property strategy, but initially, they prefer to avoid large overheads with high set up costs.

A Business Centre is the collective term for an office building, or often just a floor or wing of an office building, in which a company provides a range of offices to tenants on relatively short term contracts in the form of serviced offices. These offices are fully fitted and furnished and ready for immediate occupancy. Serviced office operators also take responsibility for all of the services including reception services, secretarial support, and conference and meeting facilities, video conferencing, networking and high speed internet access.

While initial costs may look high, the charges that you pay includes almost all of the costs that you would normally expect to pay on top of rent in a conventional office; and better yet, they are fixed costs – from month to month, you know exactly what you’ll pay for your workspace. There are no additional costs for furniture, heating/air conditioning, lighting and power, security, cleaning, building and plant maintenance, elevators, insurance and other miscellaneous expenses that business owners are usually in the dark about until the bill arrives. For many start-ups, the up-front costs associated with a conventional office are simply unaffordable and the hassle-free monthly payments at a serviced office are far more manageable.

A major difference between serviced offices and traditional offices is the length of the lease. A serviced office contract may be as short as just one month, or more typically six, nine or 12 months. For start-ups uncertain about their rate of growth, initial costs and requirements, this offers an ideal solution to hit the ground running without being dragged down by logistical issues such as internet connections and employment visa paperwork. This arrangement is very different from the long lease normally associated with a traditional office and gives many businesses the much needed flexibility to shrink or expand as their business dictates.

In addition to the fixed low costs and flexibility a business centre offers, it is also the expertise that is invaluable and plays a significant role to a start-up or foreign company doing business in Dubai. Serviced offices offer a range of services, such as assisting with business incorporation, identifying appropriate local partners, taking care of work permits and UAE visas, advising on suitable corporate structures and advice on quick setup tactics appropriate for the Dubai market. Such offices are often experienced and well versed in all aspects of business setup as well and are well positioned to advise and assist local and foreign business owners in Dubai.

In Dubai, a business centre is not simply a space to work from and an address to put on a business card. For many business owners seeking a trade licence from the Department of Economic Development, the process can be long and arduous, and impossible without a local and knowledgeable partner. Business centres can manage the entire incorporation process including finding suitable local service agents or partners ensuring your business is up and running in no time.

It is also important to mention location, location, location – having a shared office in a well-known building is good for marketing purposes. Your clients will be able to remember you more easily if your office is located on a high-profile building. Since people often associate you with your surroundings you need to be careful in choosing your environment. We all know how important first impressions are, and a centrally manned reception will offer your clients a pleasant secure waiting area, and a great first impression.

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