IWG rides pandemic-led demand for flexible working

EdgeProp Singapore |
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SINGAPORE (EDGEPROP) - The pandemic has forced businesses to re-evaluate their office footprint. Co-working space operator IWG has seen a “growing demand from landlords who are rethinking their real estate strategies”, shares Paul MacAndrew, country manager, Hong Kong & Singapore, IWG. These come from a mix of businesses — large corporations, medium-sized firms, small, single offices, start-ups and even freelance businesses.
No18-Capitol-Singapore-Lounge - EDGEPROP SINGAPORE
The lounge area at No18 Capitol Piazza, Singapore (Credit: IWG)
As a result of Covid-19, the group has seen an increase in its demand for memberships in Singapore by 40%, says MacAndrew. Rather than being home 100% of the time, workers can “drop into our network of locations and work closer to home”, he explains.
In Singapore, IWG operates 24 flexible workspaces across four brands: Regus, Spaces, Signature by Regus and No.18.
In decentralised locations such as Tampines, Jurong and Paya Lebar, demand for workspaces has increased by 30% compared to those in the CBD. MacAndrew attributes it to these locations being nearer to the homes of employees than the city centre.
“As Singapore moved into Phase Three of reopening last December, we started to see an uptick in CBD office occupancy rates with demand in December and January increasing 28% overall,” he adds.
The community work area at Spaces, Joo Chiat (Credit: IWG)
IWG is largely optimistic about the outlook of its flexible workspaces within the CBD. “We are seeing growth in interest in spaces within the CBD starting to return to pre-Covid-19 levels and we anticipate that demand will only continue to increase as more organisations look at how they manage their existing staffing levels while still providing a level of flexibility,” notes MacAndrew.
With the pandemic bringing uncertainty on the work-from-home versus office debate, flexible workspaces provide a solution to corporations seeking flexibility. Just after the Singapore government announced in March that up to 75% of staff are allowed to return to the workplace, it had to reverse its guidelines due to concerns on the rise of Covid-19 community cases.
From May 8 to May 30, no more than half of the staff who can work from home should return to the workplace, and start times must be staggered for workers in the office. On May 14, the government tightened measures further, announcing that working from home is to remain the default option for employees who can do so.
Regus-Guoco-Tower-Reception - EDGEPROP SINGAPORE
The reception at Regus, Guoco Tower (Credit: IWG)

The adoption of flexible working

The pandemic has pushed even traditional businesses to rethink the purpose of the office. Banks, for instance, have hopped on the bandwagon of hybrid working, which in the past was more commonly associated with the tech industry. Financial institutions like DBS, UOB, Standard Chartered, Citigroup and OCBC Bank have either announced or are making plans for a hybrid working arrangement.
And it is not just businesses being flexible about the way work is done. A survey by jobs site JobStreet revealed that 74% of Singaporeans expect a partial remote working arrangement even after Covid-19 blows over, citing a preference of working two to three days from home and the rest in the office. The respondents range from office staff, who work in knowledge or digital jobs, and even employees who handle physical goods and meet clients.
IWG saw an uptick in CBD office occupancy rates, with demand in December 2020 and January 2021 increasing 28% overall (Credit: IWG)
“While remote working enabled employees to gain greater flexibility and control over their daily schedules, its share of drawbacks such as adversely blurring the boundaries between work and home, has, in turn, accelerated the demand for flexible working around the world,” notes MacAndrew.
Due to a change in the future of work, IWG has inked deals with multinational companies allowing their employees to work flexibly in its spaces. In China, the group has an arrangement with Nestlé to provide all their employees access to IWG’s 3,500 flexible workspace centres in the country.
In January, Standard Chartered signed a deal with IWG to offer flexible work options to 95,000 of its employees in 120 countries over three years. And more recently in March, Japanese telecommunications group Nippon Telegraph and Telephone partnered IWG to provide workplace access to its 300,000 employees globally in 120 countries.
Tapping on such a shift in thinking by companies worldwide, IWG aims to target the sectors of banking, finance and tech. “We are looking for opportunities in these sectors amid continued growth and expansions to meet the growing demand for hybrid working in these markets,” says MacAndrew.

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