It was in the 1990s when the Philippines’ business process outsourcing industry started. Along with the industry’s dynamic and continuous growth is the need for innovative workspaces. Regus, now known as the world’s largest provider of flexible workspace solutions, was at the forefront of addressing this demand by establishing its presence in the country in 1999.

Lars Wittig, country manager of Regus Philippines, told BusinessWorld in an e-mail, “Regus started providing ready-to-use offices in the Philippines in 1999 with its very first office space at The Enterprise Center in Makati.”

From this first office space, Regus Philippines continued to be a reliable provider of versatile office formats catering from individuals, to small enterprises, and corporations. Having seen a dramatic increase in demand over the past few years, the company has steadily expanded its network not just in Metro Manila but as well as in other key cities including Cebu, Clark in Pampanga, and Davao.

To date, it has more than 5,300 work stations in 25 locations in the Philippines. This is part of Regus’ worldwide network of almost 3,000 business centers, spanning in almost 900 cities across 120 countries established since the company’s founding in Brussels, Belgium, in 1989.

“Anyone who requires a workspace can come to us so that we can solve their needs. We look after more than 2.1 million customers globally, who rely on Regus to help them work. They include organizations of every type and size — from the very largest companies, such as Google, Microsoft and Dell, to the recently launched one-person start-up. Our customers span every sector from manufacturers to retailers and from oil companies to professional services firms,” Mr. Wittig shared.

Apart from fully furnished office spaces, Regus Philippines’ portfolio of office formats includes virtual offices, co-working spaces, meeting rooms, and business lounges, among others. These flexible workspaces suit the preferences of the growing majority of the Filipino work force who value flexible working practices as well as address some of the working challenges of a typical working Filipino and entrepreneurs alike such as the worsening traffic.

“Given the traffic conditions in the Philippines, employees are losing a significant amount of time commuting to and from the workplace. Having the option of checking into the nearest business lounge instead of wasting hours in traffic is ideal for employees and business owners,” Mr. Wittig said.

“The country also has an average work force age of 23.5. The millennial generation, which accounts for the bulk of the work force, are accustomed to working through portable devices, and continue to expect to work that way. For employers to attract and retain millennial talent, option for flexible workplace solutions is of high importance,” he added.

Mr. Wittig also noted that many businesses in the Philippines, particularly start-ups, tech, and creative businesses are opting to use co-working spaces today not only to keep their costs low but to also seek the opportunity to meet and network with other businesses.

“This year alone, we are projecting around 20% to 30% growth in co-working spaces driven by the country’s young work force and growing small and medium enterprises (SMEs). Currently, only one or two percent of office inventories are for flexible or co-working spaces. Regus is perfectly placed to support the move towards such hub-and-spoke configurations, with smaller corporate centers linked to regional and/or satellite branch locations, with its strengths in the flexible, mobile working space market,” Mr. Wittig pointed out.

Looking forward into the entrance of the digital natives into the work force, Regus is poised to introduce services that offer a more collaborative, interactive work environment through its co-working spaces and virtual office offerings.

Moreover, in addition to its network of workspaces nationwide, Regus Philippines plans to add 200 more work stations to existing locations in the country.

“As it continues to establish locations in megacities, Regus is looking at expanding to second-tier cities. Zamboanga, Cagayan de Oro, Mactan, Iloilo and Bacolod are among the sites eyed for expansion this year,” Mr. Wittig revealed.

“Another expansion model Regus is working on is a partnership with property developers to allow Regus to operate and manage a Regus office in buildings owned by the developers,” he added. — Romsanne R. Ortiguero