It’s tempting to think that, if you want to maximise your UK company’s chances of success without leaving British shores, you need to be in London. Indeed, The Guardian declares confidently that “London has firmly established itself as a leading digital hub.”
Many businesses outside the capital could also envy the apparently plentiful amenities on London companies’ doorsteps; think universities which could provide a steady, fresh stream of young talent, while office space is locally abundant, too. Still, should you really insist on working in London?
A closer look at the facts suggests that life as a London worker has its drawbacks – to the extent that you might want to start or shift a business outside of London. Doing so wouldn’t necessarily have to entail forgoing use of London amenities, either – just consider the following options…
Shift to more flexible working hours
It seems that many Brits would concur with Dolly Parton that working 9 to 5 is “barely gettin’ by” and “all takin’ and no givin'”. These days, just 6% of UK people work that traditional shift, according to a recent YouGov study reported by The Telegraph. The study surveyed 4,000 people.
Nearly half of those were said to work flexibly. When queried on the shift they would most prefer, 37% opted for an 8am start and 4pm finish, while there was notable support for workdays starting after 9am; over a quarter of Londoners expressed a preference for this.
YouGov has suggested that this figure could be due to a wish to dodge rush hour on the capital’s hectic public transport system, which you could do by working freelance just outside London.
Choose a city with strong public transport links to London
If working freelance just doesn’t seem like a practical option for you, this raises the question of where you should take up office space if not in London. The expense of London living is one reason to consider keeping a distance from the capital, but exactly how long should that distance be?
The answer could surprise you. Many cities around the UK are firmly connected to London via public transport – to the extent that you could set up a business base dozens of miles outside the capital but still make trips there and back daily, if necessary.
Consider the example of Birmingham – which, though in the West Midlands, is just a 90-minute rail journey away from London, reveals Real Business. London could be home to many of your potential clients, but regular face-to-face meetings with them would remain possible for a Birmingham firm.
Set up your business base just outside the capital
High costs are an oft-cited reason to forgo London – but, if you work too far outside it, you could fear paying heavily for regular travel to the capital. You could strike a sensible balance by operating pretty much next door to London.
You don’t have to struggle to find serviced offices in Reading, for example, if you look for a workspace provider like BE Offices.