Celebrating the people behind British small businesses

How to run an office well – what’s actually involved?

By Joff Sharpe, Head of Operations at British Land and Storey 

How hard could running a small business office really be?

Like most seemingly straightforward tasks, it’s more complicated in practice. After you’ve got your workspace up and running, ensuring that it stays that way can take considerable effort and resources. From the off, you’re faced with daily tasks such as replenishing supplies and fixing the Wi-Fi – or far bigger projects like getting rid of damp, buying new furniture, or refitting the kitchen.

Responsibilities pile up quickly and easily, and there are many things you may not have considered. Here are just a few.

Repairs and planning

Admittedly, nobody starts a business because they’re thrilled by the idea of organising dishwasher repairs and forensically examining pages of building regulations. Nonetheless, noncompliance happens more easily than you might think: structural problems such as damp can cause problems over time, and small business owners must be prepared for these problems when they arise. The fire alarm, for example, may seem like a fairly simple element of your workplace, and one that requires little in the way of sustained attention, but it’s an area of regulatory importance. Checking for revisions and ensuring that you’re scrupulously up to date is important.

So, if you know that your office has structural issues, develop a plan to take care of them. If your toilets routinely break, make sure you know a good plumber. Make sure your office manager knows what to do and who to contact in the event that something goes wrong. Keep a comprehensive, detailed document that holds all contact information for handymen, plumbers, electricians, and anyone else you may need at short notice. It’s much easier to address a problem if you’ve planned for it in advance. 

Kitting out your office

Once you’ve moved into your office, it’s easy to forget the little things.

The big picture stuff matters. But employee wellbeing is an essential part of attracting and retaining talent in competitive markets: for the good of your business – and to put in the best position for growth – it’s essential to pay attention to the little things. If you don’t have coffee, dishwasher tablets, clean cutlery, and other contributors to general wellbeing, employees are liable to become frustrated. To take care of these things, someone should be appointed to take care of budgeting and managing orders – a part-time office manager, if you can afford one.

When it comes to creating an environment that fosters employee wellbeing and productivity, little things can make a big difference.


Communication is the cornerstone of any business – and especially in 2017, where alternative working methods are growing in popularity. If you or your employees want to work remotely, you’ll need an internet connection that can handle video calls, so they can still attend meetings. If you have several employees working in different countries, a conference call service can bring everyone together. It may also be necessary to supply work mobiles for your employees – which will also necessitate setting up and managing appropriate phone plans.

It’s also vital to have a plan in place for when the internet fails: it’s a persistent issue for SMEs, even in well-connected places such as London. If the Wi-Fi goes down, it’s good to have a failover connection in place – and if it goes down persistently, it’s important to find a better alternative.

Communication is the foundation of team cohesion. Don’t let it suffer.


Tasks like cleaning the toilets, washing hand towels, and ensuring the general hygiene of your workspace are vital – but easily overlooked, especially in a growing SME with little time. You can’t make other staff members accountable for these things without productivity suffering, and as a CEO or key decision-maker, you shouldn’t be spending time on it either. Reliably generating profit requires sustained focus and effort: the fewer distractions, the better. Hiring a cleaner may be the best way forward. This can come to a cost of around £3,000 per year.

Running an office is about balancing responsibilities – big and small. If you make the day-to-day stuff easier, you’ll have more time and resources to devote to the things that drive growth and profitability.

And if you want someone else to take care of all of this for you, contact the Storey team today to discuss how flexible workspaces could benefit your business.