Why Franchising Has Become More Flexible

Technology

The demand for technology and convenience is skyrocketing. Is your business ready?

By Darin Harris, Regus

When many of us started our careers, we never could have imagined how technology like the internet and mobile phones would take hold. Today, we have more power in the palm of our hand via a single smartphone than NASA had when it put Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin on the moon. That is astonishing.

Undoubtedly, technology has rapidly changed the world around us, from how we communicate with each other to how we travel. For many IFA members, technology is the entire reason their businesses exist. At the very least, it has changed the way each and every one of us conducts business on a daily basis.

Think of what many Americans do the minute they wake up — they check their phones. Whether it’s their email, social media accounts, their go-to sources for news, or text messages that came in overnight, they’re getting their day started before they’ve stepped out of bed. In fact, it’s not uncommon for people to answer a few emails from bed, a few more while they’re making coffee and a few more on the morning commute. Technology has allowed us to get so much done, and be just as effective outside of the traditional office environment, as inside. Better yet, employees are embracing it.

Workspace flexibility is growing worldwide.

According to the IWG Global Workspace Survey released earlier this year, four out of five respondents said that when faced with two similar employment offers, they would turn down the one that didn’t offer flexible working. It’s no surprise then that 62 percent of businesses worldwide currently have a flexible workspace policy, and over half of employees globally are working outside of their main office headquarters for at least two and a half days each week. 

The major driver that has accelerated this revolution in workspace mentality is worker demand. Because flexible working allows for more convenience and a better work-life balance, the demand for it is increasing year over year; worker demand is up to 75 percent from 70 percent in 2017. More and more organizations are allowing staff to work where they want, in remote locations as well as in coworking spaces, and are even relying on more flexible workforce arrangements such as using more freelancers and contractors. In this multi-faceted environment, the regular nine to five is a thing of the past and many types of workers are using various combinations of workplace solutions that include home working, business lounges and remote offices, as well as traditional office locations, rather than espousing a single solution. Enhances in technology have made all of these avenues a reality.  

Furthermore, not only is technology improving the employee experience, but companies such as Regus are further simplifying the coworking space for its franchise owners as well by providing access to leading platforms that help automate everything. From booking appointments through app technology, training, marketing, customer service, sales, billing and invoicing systems, it's all instant. 

We’re at the tipping point.

Following many years of continuous growth, global demand for temporary offices, meeting rooms and coworking spaces is set to explode. Flexible working has become so engrained into modern working practices globally that many countries have included it in their legislation, including in the Netherlands, Norway, Australia, the United Kingdom and Italy, among others. Of course, the spread of flexible workspace is not merely driven by increasing worker demand, but also by an increased awareness among global business leaders of its pivotal role in achieving success. Flexible working has shown to improve retention rates, diversity and productivity. A recent Regus report estimated that by 2030, the U.S. could see an economic boost of as much as $4.5 trillion annually from flexible working, while China and India could gain $1.4 trillion and $376 billion extra, respectively, annually.

Employers still struggle with challenges.

Although people globally report that flexible working is now “the new normal,” providing workers with a truly productive and conducive workplace can be a complex task that requires businesses to evaluate the needs of each team or individual worker and their optimal set-up. With cloud-based communications, smartphones, and laptops, it is possible to plug-in and work from virtually anywhere. While the technology makes it possible, it is up to the employer and employee to devise symbiotic and productive plans to work efficiently with the telecommunications and flexibility at hand.

A major challenge many employers struggle with is ensuring workers have access to all the technology they require to work productively and securely. About 45 percent of respondents in the IWG Global Workspace Survey report businesses are concerned about data security. Others cite concerns over VPN requirements, firewall rules and remote cyber security systems, among other issues. 

An exciting future.

If we have more technology in the palm of our hands than NASA did 50 years ago, imagine the leaps AI will make in the next 50. With the continuing enhancements that lie before us, there truly is no limit for the growth potential in the flexible workspace sector. It is also why many now view it as the next franchise frontier. By 2020, it’s estimated 50 percent of all workers will be remote most of the time and by 2022, the global mobile workforce will number 1.87 billion people. By 2030, flexible working will have created 30 million additional jobs across 16 of the world’s leading economies. Which begs the question: Is your business ready? 

Darin Harris is CEO of Regus, North America, where he leads the development and expansion of IWG across its companies, including Regus, Spaces, HQ and Signature by Regus. Find out more about Regus here