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'Huge potential' for flexible working in Belgium
Flexible working is enjoying a massive boom. It's forecast that co-working facilities will account for a third of all the office space in Belgium by 2035.
Freelancers, entrepreneurs, startups and consultants are busy people on the move - but they all need a place to settle and get work done, whether it's for a few hours or a permanent office presence.
To respond to this new way of working, flexible workspace provider Regus has set itself a bold target. "We need to be present in any city in Belgium above 20,000 people," says William Willems, general manager of Regus Belgium. "Most studies forecast that flexible workspace will account for a third of the market. The growth predicted for co-working is gigantic. There's a huge potential for us to grow."
Regus is already the biggest provider of flexible workspace in Belgium, with 34 locations including 20 in Brussels alone. But the company now wants that to grow to 150 sites - offering everything from permanent offices for companies seeking an established home, to drop-in facilities for a quick visit.
Only the space you need
Belgium's position as an international hub means business people all over the world need an office space where they can do business while in Europe. And budget-conscious local companies are looking at affordable ways of doing business. "Large companies increasingly want flexible working," Willems tells The Bulletin. "By only renting the office space they need, companies can save up to 60% on their real estate costs." But flexible workspace in Belgium currently accounts for just 2.1% of all the office space available - lagging behind our European neighbours.
And with traffic congestion a major problem in Belgium, a growing number of businesses are looking for office space outside of the main urban centres. Among the new sites that Regus has just opened are Ypres and Kortrijk - ideally placed for anyone doing business between Belgium and France - and Herentals, about 30km outside Antwerp. "We're opening more and more in regional locations," says Willems. "People are increasingly asking for us to find spaces away from the traffic jams."
Employers are embracing flexible working, but homeworking "has a lot of limitations", says Willems. "You're often not on a reliable internet connection, you don't have the corporate spirit. For some companies, it's not what they need to increase productivity. Some people need that sense of community - sitting and working with other people."
Using an online platform, nomadic workers can find the address of any of Regus's 3,000 business centres in 900 cities worldwide and book a place - whether it's for a meeting in Dubai or just to print some notes in-between appointments in London, with multilingual administrative support on hand when you need it.
Start-ups can also have a virtual office presence, using a Regus site as a correspondence address or for the occasional meeting. And, for companies seeking a permanent presence, more traditional long-term office rentals are also available at every site.
"Economic growth means more demand for office space and support services," says Willems. "Regus is here to respond to this. By outsourcing their real estate needs, businesses can focus even more on their core activities."