Mark Dixon, CEO of IWG, reveals why flexible, multi-brand workspace outside of city centres is the way forward for corporations
When the global economy threatens to waver, businesses need to be especially sure they are making sensible, calculated decisions about their growth. For corporate real-estate professionals (CREs), the pressure is on to forecast their company’s workspace needs for the future – no mean feat when uncertainty reigns supreme.
Given the impact a recession can have on a company’s workforce, CREs are increasingly recognising the advantages of flexible office space over conventional office space. Offering the option of shorter leases, and the chance to upscale or downsize depending on how business is faring, it can be a lifesaver for CREs working in industries that are particularly vulnerable during the times. It allows CREs to make shorter-term commitments to the amount of workspace their company is using and adjust it accordingly – which beats being locked into a 10-year lease that’s no longer suitable.
During a recent visit to the US, IWG boss Mark Dixon shared his vision for the future of workspace, and what corporations really need from real-estate partners in this day and age. A recent Reuters article captures Dixon’s belief that corporate customers are seeking a “high level of disclosure” from real-estate partners, particularly in the wake of a potential recession. Dixon’s comments about IWG’s “disciplined” approach to growth and investment was also discussed, especially with regard to how crucial this is in uncertain economic times.
In an interview with CNBC, Dixon highlighted the importance of transparency for IWG when it comes to maintaining investor trust, and how vital that trust can be to keep stakeholders fully informed about plans to future-proof the business and ensure it remains profitable. Another clear message from Dixon was that being a multi-brand company gives IWG a firm upper hand as a flexspace provider. As a global company with 3,400 locations in 120 countries, with a number of flexible workspace brands in its arsenal – Regus, SPACES, No18, Signature by Regus – corporations can have a workspace portfolio that’s truly customised.
Increasingly, CREs are seen as responsible for optimising employee productivity through well-chosen workspace. IWG works with CREs to advise on which of its brands are the perfect fit based on the needs of a specific region, team or department of a company. For example, perhaps the creative, collaborative atmosphere of IWG’s SPACES coworking brand is the best fit for a company’s marketing department, helping them generate new campaign ideas. A multi-brand approach gives CREs the freedom to be more innovative about how they increase employee productivity via a positive working environment.
Another key talking point during Dixon’s time in the US was corporations’ need for ubiquity when it comes to workspace. An article in The New York Times reported Dixon’s belief that the days of city-centre headquarters for corporations – and the days of commuting to them – are numbered. Instead, they are sourcing talent from further afield to fill specialist roles, which in turn fuels the flexible-working revolution with more employees than ever working remotely, or fewer hours, or outside of the standard 9 to 5.
The solution to all this, according to Dixon, is flexspace, which offers professional, stimulating workspaces closer to where employees actually live. With that in mind, IWG’s strategy is not only to target major cities but also to expand into new states, towns and suburbs. That way, CREs have more options than ever when it comes to sourcing high-quality office space for individuals or teams, wherever in the world they live. This also helps in the battle to attract and retain the best talent.
All in all, Dixon’s vision can be summarised by his mantra that workspace needs to work harder to better fit customer needs. The days of one-size-fits-all workspaces are over: now, there’s the option to work with a real-estate provider with a proven stable business model and an international reach, who understands both the complexity of sourcing workspace and the demands made of CREs. In challenging times, making the move to flexible workspace can be a wise choice for companies who find themselves unsatisfied with the status quo.
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