Flexible workspace firm IWG in first Scottish franchise move

IWG, the flexible workspace group behind the Regus and Spaces brands, has signed its first franchise agreement in Scotland as demand grows for hybrid ways of working.

The new agreement will see three entrepreneur-owned centres opened across Lanarkshire over the next three years in a move IWG said was prompted by a 20 to 25 per cent increase in enquiries for its centres in suburban parts of Scotland.

It has partnered with a number of experienced business managers who will operate the franchises including Tommy Nevin, who together with Scott Gibson, operates a local business telecoms franchise firm with BT.

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Graeme Orr, a freelance project management consultant for multiple blue-chip organisations, and operations director Tony McCabe will also be part of the IWG deal.

Employees are increasing looking at hybrid working options in the post-pandemic world. Picture: Getty Images.

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IWG said the pandemic has accelerated demand for flexible workspace outside the UK’s cities, with many seeking greater freedom in where and how they work in the long term. A recent survey showed about half (46 per cent) of workers would quit their job if asked to return to the office full time with 83 per cent more likely to apply for a job that offers flexible working.

Julian Chambers, head of franchise at IWG in the UK and Ireland, said: “The pandemic has accelerated a trend that we were already seeing across the world, the shift towards hybrid working. Employees want the freedom to work closer to home, avoiding a lengthy commute to the office – and businesses are listening.

“We’ve seen the demand soar considerably around the world in 2021 with more than a 350 per cent increase in new locations committed by franchise partners so far this year, compared to the same period in 2020. Our UK partnerships have played a huge part in this, and now we are delighted to bring the opportunity to Scotland where there is still plenty of unmet demand across the country.”

Mr Nevin, who is joint managing director of BT Local Business West Scotland alongside Mr Gibson, said: “We’re putting our collective business knowledge together to make a real difference to the lives of commuters, and we are on the lookout for property-owners who are interested in helping this vision come to life.”

Expansion

IWG has formed multiple new franchise partnerships to date across 75 city and suburban locations as demand for flexible workspace continues to surge following the pandemic.

Mr Orr said it was a ”hugely exciting" time for the flexible workspace sector. “We’re delighted to be spearheading IWG’s franchise network in Scotland. For years, people have commuted to cities such as Glasgow, Edinburgh and further afield for work, sometimes spending over two hours on public transport or on the motorway.

"Additionally, we believe many organisations will be seeking property solutions with greater flexibility, which can rise and fall in line with actual business demand, providing agility that is missing in traditional real-estate arrangements.”

IWG launched its franchise opportunity in 2019 as part of a strategy to grow its business tenfold over the next decade to meet booming demand for flexible, local office space.

Franchise partners have the ability to open multiple centres across a contracted territory over a two- to five-year period.

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