Lars Wittig, IWG leads the workspace revolution

 Everyone has heard about co-working places by now. But what is it really about? A ‘workplace revolution’ is under way where IWG (International Workplace Group) is leading the way in adapting to this new reality where companies’ team members get to work where, when and how they choose! IWG’s brand portfolio includes the serviced office brands Regus and Spaces – both fast expanding in most of Southeast Asia’s major cities.

IWG Regional Vice President Lars Wittig

The millennial workers and the growing start-up scene are the big drivers behind a very strong growth for flexible working solutions in recent years. It is also a consequence of the fast-growing cities in Southeast Asia suffering from traffic jams; still with significant lack of public transportation.

In cities such as Manila the bad traffic situation in the metro calls for flexible working setup. And the feedback of an IWG global survey from 2018 speaks volumes: The benefits businesses are experiencing are clear: a resounding 93% said that flexible workspaces enable employees to be more productive while on the move.

Lars Wittig from Denmark is our cicerone for insights, being the IWG Regional Vice President who caters to 175 centers across Southeast Asia and beyond, including Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos, Taiwan, and South Korea.

“In many cases, the daily use of a traditional office is not required. Employees may need to simply drop in for key meetings, have access to remote locations and a network of business environments around the world when and where they require. Technology and work culture are changing quickly to support these new flexible demands,” he begins.

A Spaces flexibe working space in Manila, Philippines

Lars, who has been with IWG since 2012, was previously the Country Manager of IWG (Regus) in the Philippines, Vietnam, and Cambodia. He can thus relate to how things were previously: “The flexible working solutions that we offer have been there for quite a long time. In the Philippines, we were there since the ‘90s. It was just a few years back when the whole work style revolution started, but it’s being observed and was perused by previous generations.”

“Other than bringing optimized expense sheets to companies, to start-ups, in particular, flexible working spaces also deliver the ideal work environment that most employees demand these days,” says the Dane.

The survey also showed that due to the increased travel time caused by traffic in most Southeast Asian cities remote working locations helps reduce commuting time for employees, while around 82 percent stated that providing employees with access to remote working locations provided better work-life balance. Doing so also helps a business to retain talent – at all levels of the company.

“The workplace has gone through many changes over the past few years. There have been advances in technology, distributed teams, and locations, increasing freelance/contractor mixes, rising real estate prices and more millennials arriving in professional roles” Lars continues.

“This evolution is not going to stop and it’s clear that the office of the future will be a very different place. Our experience, as well as recent studies into the way workplaces are changing, gives us a good picture of what these offices might look like. In the coming years, we can expect firms consolidating their offices for more efficient use, greater staff density, satellite offices, and agile working increasing. There will also be a growing need for collaborative spaces,” he elaborates.

IWG’s different concepts are set up to suit different customer segments, based on their preferences.

Spaces is IWG’s answer to win over the new generation of workers in the flexible workspace sector – currently expanding all over Southeast Asia (for example opening on five new locations in Singapore by the end 2019).

In Manila Spaces opened in Bonifacio Global City in October 2018, described as a warm, free-spirited, business-casual vibe, with individual workstations, meeting pods, private rooms, phone booths, and an in-house Little Flour Café.

Spaces is all geared toward expanding one’s networks and making connections with like-minded members to link up and share ideas. What really makes Spaces unique is the community they’ve worked to cultivate – full of forward thinkers, innovators and game changers who love what they do.

Lars says that in Spaces they encourage the millennials to seek the advice of the masters and for these seasoned practitioners to look at the up-and-coming generation as their partners.

“The Spaces environment is definitely the same across all the sites in the world. A great essence of IWG flexible space solutions is its huge network, and for Spaces, in particular, the members enjoy its unique proposition. The members, traveling within the country or outside, would feel at home in each of the Spaces they go to because they would be welcomed with the same design framework and community vibe.”

About Joakim Persson

Freelance business and lifestyle photojournalist

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