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If Brexit means setting up outside the UK, where should you go?

Brexit is challenging many UK-based organisations to think carefully about their optimal location/s. While some have no reason to change, others may decamp entirely – while in-between are a host of other options…

If your business is thinking of a wholesale or partial change of location, whether voluntarily or as part of a regulatory requirement, we’ve been thinking about the factors and options you can consider.

How flexible should your post-Brexit workspaces be?

Naturally, your own business needs should guide where you locate in the EU, whether to support established clients or develop new relationships. For example, for your first foray outside of the UK – or for growth in new markets – you probably don’t want to over-commit to mid- to long-term leases too soon. There’s a strong argument for flexible space that can grow with your needs over time.

At Unispace, we talk about ‘liminal’ workspace – in workplace leasing terms, this covers established co-working solutions (with rentable desks for short periods of time) as well as the emerging breed of adaptable, mid-term, serviced-office solutions typically offered by landlords in collaboration with operators. These leasing options can offer you a variety of expansion and contraction solutions without paying for the churn of accommodation or sub-letting space. Liminal options can be worth considering whenever you’re on the threshold of pivoting to an expansion, contraction or wider workplace evolution.

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Meanwhile, for those staying in the UK, options beyond London continue to appeal – which is why we have studios in Manchester, Aberdeen and Edinburgh in addition to London. The regions have growing volumes of attractive office stock, are determined to be competitive, and already offer great liveability.

Considering a move into the EU?

According to Forbes, Brexit has been the trigger for several European cities to begin diligently wooing global businesses (Luxembourg City and Paris being notable examples), while other apparently less obvious locations, such as Athens, Limassol and Valetta, may appeal for tax and regulatory reasons. CityLab also urges consideration of Warsaw, Lisbon, Milan and Madrid. Certainly, we’ve seen our clients reaching further than ever before, relying on business strategy and innovative thinking to prepare for a future which may be less predictable than they would prefer.

If clustering matters to you, Brexit may be the catalyst you needed to secure proximity to the European headquarters of partners who are powerful or disruptive in your industry, especially in digital and fintech. Again, these are not always located in the traditional centres: Amsterdam has Uber, Tesla and Netflix; Dublin has Facebook, Google, LinkedIn and Twitter; Luxembourg City has Amazon, Apple iTunes, ArcelorMittal, Paypal, RTL and Skype.

With 23 studios across 15 European and Middle Eastern states, we’re already on the ground to support our clients. Having recently expanded, adding 9 new workspaces of our own throughout EMEA, we ourselves have first-hand experience, and understand the issues behind location-hunting and getting set up in a new country.

A new world order for economic growth?

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45 years ago, when Britain entered the EEC (as was), the world was a different place. The USA topped the top 10 economic powerhouses – but by 2030, China is expected to have supplanted it, with France and Italy ousted by Indonesia and Mexico. The simple point being: changing politics, demographics and technologies drive different industries, in turn fuelling growth in non-traditional economies.

As businesses consider where to look for post-Brexit growth, they might consider leapfrogging traditional options such as Europe/USA and heading straight for faster-growing economies like Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China and the Gulf states… and we’ll be delighted to support them from our studios in Bueno Aires, São Paulo, Hong Kong, Singapore, Dubai and across Australia and Canada.

Which are the ‘best countries’ to headquarter in?

The top 10 ‘best places’ to base your HQ in 2018 include Switzerland, Canada, Australia, Denmark, Sweden, Netherlands, New Zealand and Germany – in that order – and Unispace can deliver your on-brand, on-time, on-target workspace strategy in all of these locations. The list is based on 9 criteria (which may help with your own decision-making): connectivity to the rest of the world, level of corruption, economic stability, local standards of education, the tax environment, liveability, safety, infrastructure and legal frameworks.

Where to turn for workplace strategy support?

If Brexit is going to mean a change of workplace for you in any sense – whether quitting the UK, downsizing, or setting up in another country, there’s no better partner than Unispace for a seamless, stress-free solution for embedding your brand on a local, regional or global level. We can take care of a complete end-to-end solution: strategy, design and delivery.

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Coming next in our series on post-Brexit decision-making: Sensationalist headlines have announced a series of major global firms’ intended departures from London. Are these gloomy predictions being borne out by the reality?