This page is a report into potential locations for the Wikimedia UK office. It was originally created by Jon Davies, the WMUK CEO.
The organisation needs a base in London.
- Accommodate safely our staff.
- Be a secure tenancy/license.
- Be close to public transport and preferably national rail and routes to the airports.
- Be economical
- Allow flexibility of space for expansion, contraction and moving on.
- Have 24/7 access
- Allow easy access and welcome to visitors
- Offer space for training, board meetings etc
- Offer supporting facilities – phone, internet, photocopy etc
- Make our lives as easy as possible
Looking at the 2012 Activity Plan it identifies a minimum of five members of staff. We will have to discuss roles, salaries and exact job descriptions but this seems like a very sensible starting point.
I would identify three as being essentially London based:
- The office manager
- The Communications manager
I would suggest that the Events Manager would benefit from being part of the team in London but this role and the Developer could be based elsewhere.
Therefore I am looking for a minimum of four desk spaces but would like five ideally as I assume a desk for visitors, trustees, volunteers and interns. Six might be even better as I am hoping for an office that becomes inhabited by WIkipedians but we need to do the sums. There is a provisional £20K in the budget to cover rent and equipment. I think this will need to be a bit more, especially initially as we acquire office equipment.
There are two options in terms of accommodation, our own premises or being part of a shared facility:
|Own premises||Facilitated premises|
|Security||More secure – door locked behind us||Need to lock drawers etc and ensure equipment nailed down.|
|Can have long lease but ties us down to that space||Arrangements more restricted but flexible|
|Size||Will be stuck with what we can afford. Will not be very big.||More flexible – can expand and contract depending on what is available in building.|
|Timescale||Need to allow time for Lawyers, leases etc||Much quicker.|
|Shared facilities||Unless we have large premises will be limited||Come with meeting rooms etc.|
|Maintenance||Completely our responsibility||Mostly done by landlord though at a cost.|
Less likely to be compliant with the Disability Discrimination Act. (DDA)
|Not all offer this.
Will be DDA compliant
My proposal is that we need somewhere to get started and see how we develop over the next twelve months. We can then look at acquiring something more permanent at a measured pace and knowing more about our likely income.
There are several ‘charity zones’ in London. The most popular are around Old Street and Southwark.
The old street area is home to Shelter, NSPCC, and hundreds of others. It is also increasingly an area favoured by the IT world. Google are opening a start-up building some time in the future and there are at least 25 other IT companies (according to The Independent on October 1st) in the area.
Having spoken to trustees I have looked around Old Street (two stops on the tube to King’s Cross, three to Euston and close to three other lines, overground to Stansted and lots of buses (not to mention hire Bikes).
I approached local commercial landlords and shared facilities to measure the market.
There were no individual buildings of the small size we are looking for that I could find. I am anticipating 250 square feet (Estate Agents have not really metricated yet) and most rented premises start at around 450. This could well be our next option though.
The serviced premises offer more flexibility but with a premium as they provide central service, utilities and flexibility.
Typically they are old warehouses or corporate offices that are divided into open plan spaces with partitions in-between. The collections Trust occupied one such space until recently.
There are high-end commercial property management firms, Regus for example, but I think this would be excessive. I have considered the three such properties in the area that cater for small organisations and charities:
0207 250 8000 Gary
0207 065 0767 Lesley
0870 116 1100 Abigail
|Location||300 metres north of Old Street||200 metres east of Old street||300 metres east of Old Street|
|Premises type||Old woollen mill – converted||Sixties office block - refurbished||Old municipal building – refurbished|
|Costs||399.60 per desk per month per year plus £105 per desk annual comms fee.
|338.85 per desk per month per year||On 12 month contract £1600 a month for the space i.e. £23040 inc VAT|
|Costs for four desks as comparitor inc 4 phones and IT||£24,000||£16248||£23040|
|What is included||Management charges
Suite of board rooms and smaller rooms
|Furniture, management charges, cleaning etc. rates, phone lines and broadband for each desk
|What is not included||Phone call costs
|Phone call costs
|Meeting room hire – quite expensive IT support for internet service
£100 per month intenet
|Access||Reception 7-9 M-F 9-5 Sat. £200 to open on Sunday||Reception 8.45-5.30 M-F.
Key access at all other times
|Reception 9-5 M-F
Key access 24/7
|Other facilities||Wireless throughout
Free coffee and tea
|Three meeting rooms and coffee lounge in basement with wireless
Meeting room on each floor
|Meeting rooms, roof garden, photocopier, post sorting.
Access to meeting rooms in their other buildings – Marylebone etc.
|Neighbours||Mix of charities and associations – no real theme.||Smaller charities with large number of international development orgs.||Small PR and IT companies|
|Things I liked||Some high profile clients, IFL etc
Very clean toilets
|Bright open space
Major networking and monthly sessions where they tenants present on each other’s work.
Art Deco building
|Things I didn’t like||Very crammed in and quite dark in places – especially lower floors.
Sunday access expensive
|Sixties building a bit grim on outside.||Costs of extras make it add up
No space flexibility if/when we expand
|Availability||Mid November||Mid November but long waiting list need answer.||Early November|
|Terms||License is for 12 months, with a break clause of 3 months.||5 year protected lease with 6 months notice or 3 year license with one month notice per desk||3 months notice|
|Deposit||25% of annual rent - refundable||One month’s deposit||One month’s deposit|
I would recommend trying to find space in the Ethical Property. It is cheaper, easier to access, much brighter and more friendly. Second choice Workhere. Limited flexibility but decent office.