IWG, a world leader in coworking spaces with 10 different brands such as Regus, Spaces or HQ, is closely examining France regarding its future development strategy. The group, which has more than 3,300 sites in 175 countries, plans to redouble its regional development efforts, particularly in Auvergne Rhône-Alpes, where it has signed a partnership to open five new centers there.
With more than 130 spaces present in its territory, half in the Paris region and the other in the region, France is the group’s second most important market after the United States, and the first market on the European continent. According to its CEO, Mark Dixon, in view of the growing demand, “France is one of the countries where the potential for the development of hybrid work is one of the greatest. And if the momentum continues, it could even reach the United States.”
“The government, the communities and the cities have opened their doors to us to sign new contracts”, rejoices the British leader. With a relatively fast post-Covid recovery, France is also one of the countries where the company has been less affected by the health crisis, unlike others such as China where the group has 182 jobs. The increased flexibility of leases has led to a massive termination of space rental contracts by Chinese companies.
Originally conceived as a competitive advantage, this flexibility has however significantly affected the company’s turnover between 2019 and 2021, which later increased from 3 to 2.6 billion euros. However, it seems that in 2022 a certain recovery begins: according to the half-year results published last week, it would increase by 314 million euros compared to last year.
Development of hybrid work.
The group has thus confirmed a 45% increase in visits to its centers in France during the first half of the year, and the demand is not going to run out. Despite the return to “normal life”, Mark Dixon wants to believe in the sustainability of the “hybrid work” popularized by the health crisis: “Its development is irreversible, we see that flexibility is a growing demand from French workers and companies . »
“Workers no longer want to go back to the office five days a week, but they don’t want to go back to work from home either,” judges the self-made man. “And flexible office between home, office and coworking spaces for those who can’t or don’t want to work entirely from home is a practical solution. It goes in the direction of an aspiration to a better quality of life, where transport times between home and work are reduced, which is also more ecological”, he remarks.
France is one of the countries where the potential for the development of hybrid work is one of the greatest.
Mark Dixon CEO of IWG
An observation corroborated by Dares figures, according to which 21% of employees still practiced teleworking in March 2021. However, the proportion of teleworkers has tended to decrease since the end of mandatory teleworking in February 2022 and the end of confinement, where they were then 29% to practice it.
Ecological, practical and economical: hybrid work would also allow companies to save an average of 9,460 euros per year per employee, according to an internal study of the group, by reducing the fixed costs of operating company sites (rent, heating, logistics staff).
Estimating its potential at 1,100 centers throughout France, IWG has chosen a “network strategy” of the territory to distinguish itself from competitors such as WeWork. After its establishment in the Bordeaux region in 2020, the group develops in Pas-de-Calais, Brittany and the Côte d’Azur.
The holding company of more than 12,000 employees left at the beginning of August to attack the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region -it is already established in the Lyon metropolitan area-, signing a new multi-site franchise agreement with Auvergne Sedadi to open five new franchised spaces over there. The first will open its doors in Clermont-Ferrand at the beginning of 2023. Saint-Etienne and Limoges will follow.
And it is not for less, the region is facing a strong growth in demand: the group registered a 45% increase in visits to its spaces there during the first quarter of 2022. Since the periods of confinement and the rebound in the number of assets in secondary cities, the use of flexible workspaces has increased tenfold, according to the group.
Now it is about covering medium-sized cities, peri-urban centers and suburbs, where some of the workers are now rushing. IWG sees a new decentralization movement with many migrations from Paris to medium-sized cities. “As we have already done in the Paris region, we want to get closer to places of life, residential areas,” says Mark Dixon.
Since the post-Covid recovery, IWG has relied on a strategy of developing its franchises around the world to “build the world’s leading provider of digital workspaces”. In the first half, it opened 70 new sites, 76% of which are franchised.
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