Business Office Space Operations
Many small to middle sized businesses struggle when it comes to renting an office which suits their financial resources and expected annual growth, and projected revenue. Choosing the right location to rent an office can often influence the success of your business; an affordable office in a respectable business district enables your company to maintain its professional image whilst balancing out financial concerns whilst business office which does not have the right exposure or is in a less than desirable area will affect the way your company is perceived by prospective clients as well as others in the industry. Committing to pay more than you can afford for an office is also a risk as it makes your profit margin thinner which can mean the difference between success and failure for a newly established business.
As one of the world’s commercial hubs, Singapore is a city teeming with new and established businesses operating out of every conceivable space. In Singapore’s highly competitive business environment an office with good exposure in a reputable commercial district commands a high rent which is often beyond the means of newly incorporated businesses. However with a little research, it is possible to find a location that suits your office needs and brand image whilst remaining working within your budget. Ottavia’s guide to office rental in Singapore outlines the different rental options for businesses and provides a basic overview of the kinds of things you need to look for when on the hunt for an office space which suits the needs of your enterprise.
Renting serviced offices and business centres
These are fully furnished offices which are perfect for companies seeking a low start-up cost rental with flexible lease terms in a prestigious business district. Serviced Offices tend to be found in the more established business districts in Singapore and rent offices for 1-10 people on needs basis. This a temporary solution for small businesses who need a fixed address to operate from while they look for a suitable rental. Renting a 2-3 person office in one of these locations typically costs S$2000 to S$3000 each month. Some shared facilities like meeting and conference rooms come at an additional cost of between S$20 and S$50 an hour.
- These offices are immediately available for occupation and come fully furnished with all the amenities required for businesses to function. This includes things like reception, mail operations, IT infrastructure, kitchenette, and internet connectivity.
- No capital expenditure is required in this rental office as everything is already set up and paid for. Because they are set up as a temporary option for businesses, no long term financial commitment is required and the space can be rented on a month to month basis.
- Because these offices are fitted out with all of the facilities and amenities businesses might need, small companies have access to a range of facilities which they may not be otherwise be able to afford. Shared facilities include things like copy machines, conference rooms, and meeting spaces. Some of these spaces have a ‘hot desk’ option which can be used by multiple people at different times.
- Renting here affords your business a prestigious address which is likely in a prominent building situated in one of Singapore’s elite business districts.
- Serviced offices and business centres allow you to use space on a per needs basis meaning that as your company grows, you can easily just rent the extra space you need. This can be useful in the unpredictable growth periods which start-ups often face in the first few years of operation.
- Because they are centrally located, these offices and centres are logistically convenient for both your staff and clients.
- The flexibility of these offices come at a comparatively high price which means they are not a viable option in the long run.
- Because the offices have shared resources such as meeting and conference rooms and copy equipment, these resources may be unavailable when they are most needed.
- Renting in these kinds of places can reflect undesirably on the way your company is perceived by clients as renting on a short term basis suggests your company is both unstable and lacks the resources to establish themselves properly. Your exposure is also affected as your company may not be listed or be listed as part of a group of companies.
This usually means renting an empty office which will need to be furnished and connected with the various facilities and amenities associated with running a business. Finding an office space and then negotiating a lease which suits the needs of your enterprise can be a complex and time consuming task. This option is best suited to companies who are on a stable growth path and are looking to become more established within the industry. The long term benefits of a conventional office rental is ideal for companies with more than a few employees as although there are substantial setup costs, running the office month to month will be cheaper and more convenient than in a serviced rental situation.
- You can customise the office space to suit the unique needs of your company and to align with your brand identity
- This provides the security of longer term tender at a fixed location and with a predictable rent increase. Many agreements also come with a renewal option at predetermined rates and conditions thus providing a degree of stability.
- You have more choices about the area in which you choose to set up your office as serviced offices and business centres tend to be found only in the prime business districts.
- Although the set-up cost is likely to be high, ongoing running costs are substantially lower than in the case of a serviced office or business centre
- Companies with no customer facing roles can save on costs with a bare bones layout. In cases such as these, renting a conventional space is likely to be more affordable even for start-ups.
- Long term lease agreements for conventional offices are usually a minimum of 2 years. This can be problematic new companies who have unstable revenue or growth patterns.
- Leasing an empty space means businesses will incur substantial capital expenditure associated with essential office infrastructure
- Companies who cannot accurately predict their growth rates run the risk of renting an office with too little or too much space
- Companies are responsible for all of the office infrastructure which can be demanding when you factor in reception, phone answering, mail handling, IT set-up and ongoing maintenance
There are two types of conventional office spaces available for lease in Singapore; private-owned commercial buildings and government owned commercial buildings. The rent of the government owned offices is generally lower but more often than not, these spaces are located away from the CBD.
Private owned commercial buildings
There are private owned commercial buildings in almost every neighbourhood in Singapore including in prime business districts. The rent on these buildings depends on where the building is located as well as its age. Those interested in renting these kinds of buildings are advised to appoint an agent who can assist in searching for a suitable space and negotiate the lease terms.
Government owned commercial buildings
You can rent government owned premises from the Jurong Town Corporation (JTC) of Singapore. JTC has a large range of offices to suit a wide variety of office and factory space needs. Government owned premises can include stack-up factories, technopreneur centres, incubators for start-ups, hubs for research and development, business parks, warehousing space, industry clusters like wafer fabrication parks, the Jurong Island chemicals club, advanced display park, two biomedical parks, logistics hubs for aerospace, general and chemical warehousing and food factories.
Renting a government owned space makes sense if your business operations do not require a centrally located premises within the Central Business District.
These rental options provide you with the facilities of an office without actually requiring you to rent out a physical space. Virtual offices provide you with a corporate address, a phone number which is answered in your name, fax and mail handling as well as meeting rooms, offices and secretarial services when required.
These rental options work on a pay per use basis. They are a cost effective rental option suitable for:
- Foreign entrepreneurs who want to establish a commercial presence in Singapore but who do not intend to hire any support staff.
- Entrepreneurs who work from home and want the credibility of a fixed office address.
- Small start-ups who require a prestigious business address to align with their brand identity.
Although renting a virtual office can give you a more professional corporate image, it is inadvisable to represent it to your clients as though it is your own personal office space. Clients may walk into the building expecting to see you only to find out the space is not your exclusive address. Renting a virtual office costs between S$50 and S$200 a month depending on where the office is located and the kinds of services which are offered.
For very small businesses, working from home can be a viable and cost effective option. Individual entrepreneurs, consultants, lawyers and real estate agents are all examples of professionals who may elect to work from home due to the nature of their business. Singapore’s Home Office Scheme enables those living in both private and HDB property to conduct small scale business provided their activities do not fall under the ‘not permitted list’.
Owners or tenants of homes as well as those authorised to live in a property are amongst those eligible for this scheme. Under the scheme, a home office is defined as a ‘premises used by its occupants primarily for residential purposes with part or parts of the premises being used by the occupants as an office’. The scheme emphasises that the home office cannot facilitate more than two non-resident employees. If you are not the owner, a written consent is required from the owner before applying for this scheme.
To use your living quarters as a home office, you must register with the Housing & Development Board (for HDB properties) or the Urban Redevelopment Authority (for private properties). Some restrictions are imposed upon the office to ensure that business activities do no disrupt the other residents. Some examples of these restrictions include:
- A ban on pollution (smoke, noise, etc.)
- A limit of 2 non-resident employees
- A ban on external signage and marketing
- A ban on ‘not permitted list’ businesses such as maid agencies, catering businesses and commercial schools.
Choosing the right kind of office to suit the needs of your business plays a crucial role in whether your enterprise will grow and succeed. Making a hasty, uninformed decision could affect your bottom line and make it difficult for your business to grow and operate whilst a well-researched decision can boost growth and productivity. It’s important to take time in considering which office best suits the requirements of your enterprise. First, you must determine the best rental option which suits the size and function of your company, and then research which location best suits the needs of your company and employees. It’s important to consider a range of factors other than rent when deciding on the right building and start-up businesses should not overstep their budget restrictions or pay an exorbitant price for a good location.