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Here’s how flexspace is transforming worn-out buildings and benefitting local businesses
Henley-on-Thames in Oxfordshire, UK, is home to a close-knit community and a thriving independent business scene. But before Regus opened a location there in August 2018, there were very few options for professionals seeking flexible ways to hire an office space.
“Our hot-desking concept is a real niche in the Henley market as there is nothing else like it available in the area,” says Hannah Massie, Community and Sales Manager for Regus Henley-On-Thames. “We’ve got many start-ups and sole traders who used work out of coffee shops that now having access to a great co-working community instead.”
Located on Newtown Business Estate, Regus Henley-On-Thames already had a potential building it could have moved into – but it was not up to scratch. “The site hadn’t had a lot of TLC,” explains Massie, “hence Regus basically stripping it down and starting again.”
Regus transformed the original structure into a new development named the Henley Building – a sleek, glass-paned building where natural daylight floods its three floors of co-working space. During its first year of being open, more than 100 tenants have moved in. “The building has brought many new clients to Henley-on-Thames,” says Massie. “It’s been great to see everyone on the estate working together and bringing new clients into each establishment.”
The new Regus location has also benefitted Henley’s local enterprises. “Our clients use many of the other businesses within the Newtown Business Estate,” says Massie. “Some have made use of the self-storage directly across the road, as well the car mechanics and MOT garages down the estate, and the Fitness Space which is a small gym just a few minutes away.”
The story of the Henley Building is a classic example of how flexspace can bring new business infrastructure to neighbourhoods, new life to old buildings, and more footfall the area to boost the local economy.
This is in part due to the kind of industries that are attracted to flexible working – often creative and people-orientated industries, such as tech, marketing and HR. These industries attract out-of-town talent to neighbourhoods, and require modern, high-quality, desirable office space to retain employees.
At the same time, local talent also benefits from new co-working hubs that open their doors to the community. Take the Regus location in Lewisham, London, which launched in January 2018.
“Our regular networking events that are open to all entrepreneurs within our area have been positive,” says Chuks Madu, Community Sales Manager for Regus Lewisham Riverdale. “There was an IT technician who started creating courses for those who wanted to learn new skills for their businesses. He started off booking meeting rooms once a week for his classes, then joining our community by renting a co-working desk on a fixed term contract. And, just last week, he expanded to take on a large private office big enough for his classes which have now grown. He never hesitates to comment on how our facility has given his small start-up a boost.”
As with Regus Henley-On-Thames, the opening of Regus Lewisham Riverdale took an existing office building on Lewisham High Street and gave it a much-needed revamp. “Before-and-after photos reveal that parts of the building looked deteriorated,” says Madu. “Our clients who were familiar with the building before are surprised but impressed by its present look and finish.”
And just as with the Henley location, tenants at Regus Lewisham Riverdale are spending money on local goods and services. “A lot of our clients use local business services from web design to embroidery services,” says Madu. ”A good number of them take advantage of the inclusive benefits they get from our partnership with Gym Pass by using some of the gyms nearby that are part of the scheme.”
According to real estate consultant JLL, by 2030, 30% of total global real estate will be flexible office space. This is great news for neighbourhoods across the world, due to the power that co-working hubs have to rejuvenate areas lacking in footfall, or where entrepreneurs need affordable workspace to get their business ideas off the ground.
Compared with conventional offices, flexspace offers a smarter model for developing new workspace. It’s more accessible at entry level, more altruistic towards local businesses and more attractive for creative industries. All of this allows neighbourhoods to bolster their business scene, attract new investment and create the right conditions for communities to flourish.
Check out the Regus locations in your local area