TOCS 2016

A guide to UK office costs

What is TOCS?

Now in its 18th edition, the Total Office Cost Survey (TOCS) is the most informative independent survey of its type, providing detailed cost head information for office accommodation across over 50 locations in the UK.

Are you paying too much for your business premises?

TOCS helps organisations understand their property costs. Through the comparison of rents, business rates, service charges and other property costs in locations across the UK, organisations can ensure they aren't paying over the odds.

TOCS was previously published by Actium Consult and is now produced by Lambert Smith Hampton. The survey is formed of independent data provided by leading service providers and is based on detailed output specifications which reflect the IPD Total Occupancy Cost Code.

It provides figures across 22 cost metrics from business rates to landscaping to waste management.

Costs are provided for 51 locations, which allows for an assessment of how costs differ across new and 20-year-old office buildings on a per sq ft and employee basis.

For office occupiers, the benefits of TOCS include:

  • Easily view and compare location costs
  • Check office costs are in line with market rates
  • Benchmark against other UK locations
  • Enhance efficiencies
  • Ensure minimal costs for office arrangements

TOCS 2016

Explore costs in your area

View full office occupancy costs across the UK and assess how these differ by location and sector across new and 20-year-old buildings on a per sq ft and employee basis.

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For articles related to this year's TOCS, please click on the links below.

  • Methodology
    • TOCS methodology and assumptions

      The data which TOCS is based on has been supplied by Lambert Smith Hampton and a number of leading industry suppliers.

      To get meaningful cost figures, the building and set of services to be costed has been specified in detail. Net effective rents are utilised rather than headline rents as this provides a more accurate reflection of actual occupational costs in line with Accounting Standard Conventions.

      Costs are provided for both a brand new and 20-year-old, good quality, air conditioned, B1, self contained office building of 50,000 sq ft (NIA) built on four floors in a prime location. The construction includes a steel frame, curtain walling and raised floors.

      The building is assumed to be let on a 10-year FRI lease with a rent review after five years. The occupancy assessment also assumes:

      • Good configuration efficiency with primary circulation totalling 20% balance of NIA
      • Ancillary and amenity spaces such as reception, goods in, post handling, breakout space, meeting rooms and catering space is approximately 15% of the total space
      • 500 individually allocated personal workspaces in open space.
    • Procurement

      We have adopted the hypothetical purchasing power of a medium sized organisation which employs 500 staff, this is considered the minimum size required for procuring the TOCS bundle of services.

      The survey has also assumed all expenditure items are procured separately, which in the real world is unlikely.

    • Components

      To identify costing, we have analysed all relevant annual and one off capital costs for the occupation of office space. This analysis has taken into account expenditure items contained within the IPD Total Occupancy Cost Code.

      Actium Consult, the previous owner of TOCS, helped IPD to define this cost code, which is now established as an industry benchmark. These costs include net effective rents, rates, annualised costs such as maintenance, security and cleaning and relevant business support costs such as reception, telephones, catering and printing and reprographics.

    • Net effective rent

      Calculating the net effective rent from the headline rent is a necessary step in calculating the total cost of occupation in different locations around the UK.

      For the purpose of this survey, the level of headline (or lease) rent of a hypothetical 50,000 sq ft NIA office building in a prime office location let to a single occupier was determined. It was assumed that this property, excluding car parking, would let within a reasonable time, approximately six months, and on a 10-year FRI lease with a review after five years.

      The typical rent free period for each of the 51 centres covered was also taken into account.

      Net effective rent is calculated using the current quoted prime rent for a good quality modern office building. The net effective rent reflects any rent free inducement on a straight line basis up to the end of a 10-year lease. The rent free period also includes the traditional three month allowance for fit out.

    • How is space used?

      Since the intensity of use in office buildings varies it has become standard practice in the industry when looking at occupancy costs to measure not only price per sq ft but also costs per workstation. For organisations who use a 1:1 ratio for workstations (no desk sharing/hot desking) and staff, this measure also relates to cost per staff member.

      Therefore a good best practice benchmark for the total workstation area is 100 sq ft (NIA). This is a reasonable assumption for an occupier moving into and refitting new space, although in practice some occupier sectors use considerably more space.

      The net area of a workstation* is the area taken up by a desk, chair, pedestal and proximity storage, which comes to approximately 52 sq ft. However, any analysis of gross workstation area also needs to accommodate other spaces in the building including:

      • Cellular offices (2 sq ft)
      • High density storage (2 sq ft)
      • Breakout space (1 sq ft)
      • Meeting rooms (5 sq ft)
      • Cafe (5 sq ft)
      • Local storage (11 sq ft
      • Reception (5 sq ft)
      • Circulation (17 sq ft)

      Our space calculation assumes approximately 12% cellular space and 88% open plan.

      You can download the Space model for the Total Office Cost Survey

      * Floor measurements referred to are based on the RICS Code of Measuring Practice, 6th edition. 

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