‘Thirtyfold’ virtual office industry growth seen

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WORKSPACE PROVIDER Regus Philippines said it expects the virtual office industry growth this year to be driven by millennials’ penchant for flexible work arrangements.

Regus Philippines country manager Lars Wittig said: “We expect the industry to grow about thirtyfold minimum.”

“Because today, out of the commercial office space, our industry is only occupying 1-2%,” he said in an interview last Friday.

That outlook is anchored on the Philippines’ having a big part of its population composed of millennials, a demographic ranging from those born between 1980 and 1995.

“What has been driving this growth is the way people want to work. In the Philippines, the population is so young, millennials work whenever and wherever they like. Millennials don’t want to be measured by a timesheet,” Mr. Wittig said.

“Employers want to attract and retain millennials. That they cannot do if they do not embrace flexible working.”

Metro Manila’s worsening traffic is also a factor in the growing popularity of flexible working, Mr. Wittig said.

“Also forced by traffic, infrastructure, even the Department of Labor [and Employment] has encouraged that people work from other places other than the traditional workplace.”

Regus Philippines currently has 5,500 workstations, and is opening within the first quarter a center at the GT Tower in Makati City, its 25th location in the Philippines. The center will occupy an entire floor of the building and will have “close to 200 work stations,” said Mr. Wittig.

Regus said last month that in a study it conducted covering 200 respondents in the Philippines, 57% said that they work remotely, outside of their company’s main offices, for half the week or more.

A third of those surveyed said they work mostly from home, and 50% said they work remotely “in order to remain productive while traveling to and from meetings within the same city or in other cities.”

Mr. Wittig remains optimistic given the size of the Philippines when compared to the extent by which the company has built its network in geographically smaller countries.

“In a small country like Holland [the Netherlands], they have over 100 locations, a small town [city] like Copenhagen, they have over 20 locations, so if you connect the dots, I don’t see the limit.” — P.P.C. Marcelo