The office market in London is one of the largest and most lucrative in Europe. As a major economic and financial centre, London attracts leading companies from around the world. Many of these businesses set up their European and UK headquarters in the capital. At the same time, London is a leader in innovation and supports the growth of start-ups in a variety of sectors. With its status as a global economic hub, London is home to a range of office buildings and properties that provide space for entrepreneurs and companies to do business, innovate, and network.

London's Office Market

Central London dominates the city's office market. Eleven boroughs in Central London contain 76 percent or 19 million square metres of the city's total commercial office stock, according to government statistics and the London Office Policy Review 2012. These boroughs include major business districts in Camden, the City, Islington, Lambeth, Southwark, Tower Hamlets, and Westminster. The eleven boroughs also include Hackney, Hammersmith & Fulham, Kensington & Chelsea, and Wandsworth. 

Many of London's new office spaces are being developed in the City, which is home to approximately 45 percent of available office buildings in London. In addition to the City, Tower Hamlets is increasingly a major epicentre for office space thanks to Canary Wharf and new development around Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. The City and Canary Wharf are London's major business and office epicentres with many of the UK's tallest buildings.

Office Space Options in London

There are a variety of options for businesses looking to find office space and facilities in London. The type of office or facility selected by a company will depend on their own operational requirements and future plans for business growth and development.

Traditional space is available throughout the city, particularly in Central London. This option is typically pursued by established companies and businesses with a relatively large workforce. Traditional offices often require long-term lease agreements and significant overhead costs, including investments in information and communication technology.

With some of the highest property prices in the world, traditional office space might not be an option for small businesses or early stage and growing companies. Serviced office solutions have been gaining popularity throughout London thanks to their affordable and flexible leases. This option allows a business to grow and limit overhead costs associated with a traditional office while still maintaining a professional image. Serviced offices provide a space to do business and a range of resources shared among tenants, including meeting spaces and state-of-the-art information and communication technology.

With the rapid development of new technology, businesses are also finding flexible options such as co-working space, virtual offices and hot desking. Virtual offices allow entrepreneurs and companies to do business from any location. At the same time, virtual office providers offer physical space to do business, including meeting and conference rooms, workstations for day use and other supports. Hot desking is also becoming a popular choice for companies in London that have a mobile workforce and are looking to save money or space.

The Future of Office Space in London

Central London will remain one of the most viable locations to set up an office in the capital. With the development of the Crossrail project, certain areas of the city will see a boon in office development and availability. The most connected locations will become prime locations to locate businesses. With the creation of an East-West corridor, Crossrail will likely result in increased attention being paid in areas of East and West London. At the same time demand will likely decrease in North and South London as a result. The use of East London as the heart of the 2012 Olympic Games and the redevelopment of areas around Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park will also see that area of London continue to grow as a centre for business and office space.

The London Office Policy Review 2012, the most recent review of the office market by the Greater London Authority, warns that challenges will continue for areas beyond Central London and away from the Crossrail corridor. There is also a lack of critical mass to sustain major office centres in Outer London, and areas of North and South London will find attracting major office tenants a challenge once the new Crossrail link is completed. However, there is reason for optimism. Outer London performed well from the 1960s and 1980s when businesses located back offices away from Central London. Areas of North and South London, as well as centres in the West and East without easy access to Crossrail may still find new and innovative ways to attract companies.