The Pioneers of Flexible and Coworking Spaces Globally

With a presence in 120 countries, across 1100 cities including 200 coworking spaces in 16 cities in India, IWG is the only global leader to have a presence in Tier-II cities as well. 

With locations in practically every country, city, town and transport hub, and options ranging from an hour’s coworking to multi-year office space leases, IWG enables people and businesses to work where, when and how they want. The spaces are designed for productivity and come with everything included, whether it’s industry-leading technology, a professional reception service or quality food and drink. 

The solutions are risk-free and have zero balance sheet impact and IWG makes sure that customers are free to focus on their core business.  In an exclusive interaction with Shopping Centre News, Harsh Lambah, Country Manager for IWG in India talks about the brand journey, concept, services and evolvement of the brand in the post and pre COVID era.  

Tell us about the brand journey? Please elaborate on the important milestones of the journey?

Our brand is widely seen as the gold standard within the industry, having been the pioneers in this category. We have been in this industry for more than 30 years and during this time introducing new brands, products and services to meet the ever-evolving needs of hybrid workers.

IWG first launched in India in 2005 and now has over 200 locations across 16 cities and is growing to meet demand. The past year has been one of the most pivotal in our history adding more than two million customers to the network globally and attracting 900 new enterprise clients so far in 2021 alone. 

The co-working space is becoming a new trend for commercial retail real estate. Your views on the impact and trends from the industry prospect? 

Co-working spaces will continue to grow in popularity as employers provide their workforce with a “third space” to work from to avoid long daily commutes into the HQ and to provide a professional and productive space for people outside of the home environment. We have already seen many of the world’s largest businesses shift to this model including NTT who signed a global deal for more than 300,000 employees with IWG.  

Retail is now going to probably play a bigger part, in terms of the flex workspace industry. From the IWG perspective, we’ve already been one of the retail landscape journeys in India as we have got multiple workspaces across the country. I think we’re very bullish in terms of creating more partnerships and relationships in terms of the retail space within the real estate area. 

Tell us about the USP of the brand?

IWG has been at the forefront of hybrid working for decades, having created the flexible workspace industry with the launch of Regus. Now the business has a portfolio of almost 20 globally recognised brands, which also include Spaces, Signature, HQ, Clubhouse and The Wing.

The organisation continues to be the world’s leading provider of flexible workspaces with a presence in 120 countries globally across thousands of locations. It offers a holistic workspace solution supporting companies however their employees choose to work; whether that’s mobile, at home or at one of their centres. The business has an unparalleled network of office, co-working and meeting spaces for companies to use in virtually every town and city in the world. Through this network of locations and range of operating brands, each with their own unique workstyle, IWG gives people the freedom to choose their own way of working – wherever, whenever and however they need.

Tell us about the services provided by your brand, both globally and for the Indian market?

Our services are standardised across the globe, as that’s the strength we are having as a global infrastructure. We are present in 120 countries, across 3300 cities. We are also the national leader in India. We have close to 200 co-working spaces in the 16 cities, and we are the only global leader to have a presence in Tier-II cities. The services are standardised and are the same everywhere, be it Moscow, New York or Delhi. We focus on right training and identify the right people for the job and as result provide best services for our consumers and clients. 

Due to the current pandemic scenario, the co-working space is gaining popularity as many offices have vacated their premises and adopted this concept. Any case study you want to highlight from the current situation?

After the pandemic, everyone has started looking at the working space as a viable option.  Many organisations and companies are seriously looking at this co-working space concept. A large part of this is led by their people/staff and I think two important things come out from this. 

  • One is that people do want flexibility in their work environment, as they want the freedom to choose where they would like to work from.
  • Secondly, today people do not want to spend much time in meetings. Based on our observation, our centres in the suburb areas, which are closer to residential areas, have seen higher demand. Also, we have seen demand in the Tier-II cities. We have also seen lots of trends emerging in this period. 

Tell us about the location strategy and your expansion plans? 

As I mentioned, we are the national leader in terms of the workplace and therefore, we are looking very aggressively for expansion even after the pandemic. There is new demand coming in for these workspaces, and we are preparing our list based on that. We plan to grow both organically and inorganically at places across the country. We also want to grow inorganically in two ways, one is franchising, and we have signed three franchise partners in India. We will be launching franchises in northern states including Punjab and Rajasthan very soon. The other aspect which we are looking at is acquisition.

How different is the Indian market in this category from the global market? Highlight the key similarities, challenges for the same. 

The Indian market behaves very similarly to our other global markets and hybrid working will continue to be adopted by more and more organisations. The pandemic struck particularly hard, so the market has taken a little longer to bounce back, but now demand has come back strongly. 

New shopping malls are also coming up with this concept. Do you think malls are competition or a future business prospect for collaboration? 

They are entirely complementary and in fact here in India we have had successful locations in cities including Bangalore and Delhi for more than 10 years. We are also starting to open new locations in retail centres in other markets using our new Open Desks concept.  This is definitely a win-win situation for both malls and flexible work operators. 

To franchise the coworking space IWG, please CONTACT US at info@vffranchiseconsulting.com / sean@vffranchiseconsulting.com.

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