As more franchisees around the world partner with IWG, we look at their reasons for choosing this moment to enter the flexible workspace market.
In the aftermath of Covid-19, the world of work is changing – and forward-looking franchisees are embracing the opportunities this brings.
“Multiple studies have shown that businesses of all sizes are planning for a hybrid future,” says IWG Founder and CEO Mark Dixon. “In fact, our own research into the FTSE 100 and FTSE 250 has shown that three times the number of listed businesses are looking to use a hybrid model, compared to those looking to carry on in the same way as pre-pandemic.”
In the UK, demand for IWG flexspace was up 15% in June 2021 compared with pre-pandemic levels. In the USA, there’s been a 43% surge in enquiries. To meet this demand, says Dixon, “We are aiming to expand our network, mostly by franchise.” The ultimate aim, he explains, is “to provide a flexible workspace in every village, town and city”.
So far this year, IWG has seen an incredible 350% rise in the number of new flexspace locations signed up by franchise partners compared with the same period in 2020. Between January and the end of June, 20 new franchise partners joined the brand in deals that will see more than 110 new flexspace locations developed around the world.
Here, we look at some of their reasons for choosing this moment to enter the flexible workspace market.
A (better equipped) home from home
Gaurav Sharma signed an agreement in May 2021 that will see eight new Regus centres open across the state of Rajasthan, India. The first – a 12,000sqft space in the heart of Jaipur – will open by 2022.
According to Sharma, he’d long been considering a move into the flexspace market. Like many of today’s workers, he wanted to work closer to home – but not necessarily at home. “We always felt people should actually be able to work in their own spaces, in their own cities,” he says. “We were considering this type of investment for two to three years before Covid.”
Sharma argues that, while it makes sense for firms to downsize their HQs in the wake of the pandemic, it will also be important for them to offer people local workspaces that are superior to what they may have at home. Even when they’re not at the corporate office, Sharma says, people want to work in a space that can foster creativity and collaboration.
IWG’s flexible workspaces offer everything from virtual office facilities to coworking areas and private meeting rooms. Many also provide members with access to social and networking events – perfect for those who want to work closer to home, but not in isolation.
New city, new opportunities
In Egypt, Ahmed Sherif has been developing real estate for 25 years with his company IC Group. The firm’s franchise agreement with IWG, signed in June 2021, will see the creation of two flexible workspaces in the business district of Egypt’s New Administrative Capital (NAC).
Removed from the hustle and bustle of the old capital, the NAC will be a modern, high-tech destination for businesses. Electronic control centres will monitor infrastructure and security, roofs will be covered in solar panels and payments will be cashless.
“The NAC is a prime location and it’s going to be one of the biggest business centres in the Middle East,” Sherif explains. “It’s 45km from the centre of Cairo, and all the government buildings and departments have been moved there.”
“There’ll be residences, too,” says Sherif. “It’s going to be a very booming city. The location is an opportunity for property investors from all over the region.”
Opening close to people’s homes
James Wright and Jamie Graham’s company, WG1 Offices Limited, is one of three new businesses to sign IWG’s Cluster Franchise Agreement. They have plans to open five flexible workspaces in residential areas of London, UK.
According to Wright, these will meet the demands of former commuters who now have the flexibility to work closer to home, as more and more businesses begin to operate a hybrid model in the aftermath of Covid-19.
The abundance of housing stock and commercial real estate in the firm’s target areas is key, according to Wright. “Where do we see young professionals from Standard Chartered or the equivalent corporate clients living?” he asks. “Where do we see suitable office stock that we could get access to? These areas tick all of those boxes.”
Dixon underlines the important role that suburban and small town flexspace will play as the new world of work takes shape. “For several years, we have seen companies across the world begin to shift their operations to the suburbs and towns where their employees actually live,” he says. “During the past two years, IWG has opened almost all its new centres in non-city-centre environments.”
IWG’s scale and heritage made it the ideal franchise partner for Wright. “IWG is the longest standing, best capitalised and most profitable of the large operators in the space,” he explains. “So it is the right partner for this sector.”
Are you ready to meet the demand for flexible office space? Find out more about IWG’s franchising partnerships today.