CEO: What I learned from office shopping in Bristol.

So we have been looking at new office spaces recently, here are some thoughts and opinions on things I’ve learned from this exhaustive search:

💷 Bristol is bloody expensive – I feel so very privileged to live and work in one of the most incredible cities in the UK, and the city is a massive part of our identity at HdE AGENCY, but blimey it comes with a premium. We’ve compared sites across the region and over the bridge and its astonishing the difference.

☀️ So many terraces – surprisingly we saw about 4 locations in budget that had terraces overlooking parts of Bristol. I never knew I wanted one until I walked out onto them and realised how great it would be for our staff to have an accessible outdoor space for meetings / calls / impromptu gatherings. Unfortunately, we cannot control the sun at the time of writing this – but what a plus to have outdoor space.

💻 Co-Working Spaces – we are absolutely spoilt for choice in the city centre for stunning co-working offices, an awful lot of money has gone into these over the past few years. These are absolutely premium offices with incredible finishes and some with a burgeoning community. However, I can’t help but feel there is a co-working illuminati working in the background to force up the rents year on year. I remember when we first looked for offices a couple of years ago, we were talking £250/£275pm a desk in a private office – thats now more like £400/£450pm a desk! Obviously I understand the investment that has gone into creating these spaces needs to be repaid, however I do feel they are pushing up rents (naturally).

☇ The psychological barrier – what we quickly found out after making our way across the city on foot was that there is a psychological barrier to certain locations. Although on a map you think Wells Road / SS Great Britain isn’t far from our city centre location, actually when you factor in a bit of rain that walk across the city and down the harbour isn’t actually ideal. We realised we ran the risk of putting staff off coming into the office – and thats not what we want! Naturally our circle then got smaller as we looked for more accessible locations near public transport and amenities.

🤢 In with the new, out with the old – for the shortlist of 3 offices we loved, there was another 20 we simply walked in and out of. There are so many new impressive office spaces cropping up across the city, with millions being invested, yet there are so many old and forgotten spaces that haven’t had any life breathed into them in years – it’s sad to see famous old buildings in the city just left to natures course. At one point we walked onto a site with holes in the walls, and mushrooms the size of my head growing in the corner – weirdly in a really iconic street with views over the harbour. It begs the question why when there is clearly investment out there, but perhaps the old Bristol isn’t what investors are looking for? Curious.

£ Deals to be done – as my team will tell you, I enjoy sales. However, I never expected agents to be so open with negotiations and deal making. It was refreshing to have honest conversations where we didn’t feel like we were going in blind. Having an agent was super useful and helped the process move a lot quicker. There is obviously a lot of competition out there that landlords / agents are responding to that and open to a conversation.

🎯 London agents pricing things from London – this isn’t one of those us and them statements, but we came up against a couple of London agents who admitted they didn’t really know Bristol and perhaps they got their pricing wrong. We viewed tier 1 brand new offices in the heart of the city off plan, completely unoccupied because they are just so expensive and had inflexible terms. With increased external investment coming into the city I can only see this increasing.

🚨 Getting the help and support – obviously anybody can do desk research, but you really need to go and feel the space to get an idea if you can see you and your staff in a place. With thanks to Lisa Pearce and her awesome team at Invest Bristol & Bath – we were quickly able to shortlist and view a number of properties and really get a feel for where we could be. I would 100% recommend getting someone with the knowledge to assist your search, we looked at a range with 2 making our shortlist which we never knew even existed.

If you are currently doing a similar exercise, I would love to hear other peoples thoughts and experiences.