Co-working venues quickly replacing coffee shops

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    THE coffee shop used to be the go-to place of the digital age telecommuter. The air conditioning, quiet ambience, power outlets and WiFi connection make it a perfect non-traditional workspace.

    That is changing very quickly as the technologically enabled remote worker, or digitally empowered employee is feeling how the sanctuary of the coffee shop has been desecrated, taken over by noisy realtors, chatty students and their noisy peers. Shop owners, burdened by high overheads, have been pulling out the plugs on free Internet connections and free electricity.

    This is one reason why companies like IWG have grown quickly. Coffee shops may have their branding appeal as a meet up zone but have lost their perk because of the genuine advantages of the flexible co-working space. Peer networking, managed costs, flexible services and spaces, added to a good communications infrastructure, and even espresso makers.

    Today, more than 2.5 million people have used IWG’s services to work more productively using a choice of professional, inspiring and collaborative workspaces, communities and services.

    Where did the drive for co-working spaces come from?

    Lars Wittig, Country Manager for the Philippines, Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, South Korea for IWG, said in a brief chat after a press conference following the launch of their latest venture in Mindanao that it is the digitalization of the workspace that have transformed the way people do business.

    “When you realize it, when start-ups or established enterprises realize it, the pace of digitalization is so fast, a workspace that is not flexible is also not productive. Since new technologies are transforming the way people work. Like now people work off their tablets or their phones. Employees want the personal productivity benefits of living and working how and where they want,” Wittig said.

    This new venture, a 1,600 square meter space on the third floor of Diamond Tower, a new medium rise building by Davao-based property developer Damosa Land, Inc (DLI). Last January 25 IWG partnered with DLI for its first franchised workspaces in the province. This is scheduled to open by April this year.

    “Yes, I am categorically saying that we will definitely opening this space and inaugurating Diamond Tower by April of this year,” Ricardo F. Lagdameo, First Vice President, DLI said in his welcome speech.

    Wittig explained how the new Mindanao office space can influence locators as well as its employees creating spaces where people want to work because it is convenient by proximity or by industry.

    “It’s not that employees or independent workers don’t want a more organized or formal work environment. What they really want is to find employment closer to where they are.

    So that they can be with family after work. They will have more time with themselves. This is how businesses should respond to their employees and this is what a flexible, shared space can provide,” Wittig adds.

    Moreover, businesses want the financial and strategic benefits of the flexible office space.

    The space that can contract or expand as the business slows down or progresses.

    The typical IWG customers are start-ups, small and medium-sized enterprises, but even large multinationals, and even enterprises have realized the choice of workspaces and communities available to match their needs.

    “We are very excited to deepen our partnership with IWG. This franchise partnership will allow us to bring the world-class benefits of flexible working to the businesses and professionals in Mindanao. Our first Regus workspace has been a great success, and we aim to replicate this in our future franchise centers, Lagdameo said.

    “IWG’s entry into Davao City in 2016 was also through a partnership with DLI…it was one of IWG’s most successful centers in the Philippines. Since then, we have witnessed the growth in the Mindanao region fueling demand for flexible workspaces from both local and multinational companies,” Wittig said.

    During the press conference following the contr act signing between parties, the executives of both companies expressed their continued confidence and renewed energy for the partnership.

    “It is truly an honor to return to the Philippines to sign a franchise partnership deal after the first agreement in Cebu City last month. We recognize the strong demand from Mindanao, and are pleased to offer this partnership in cities of Davao, Cagayan de Oro and General Santos to help the local economy create new jobs, stimulate business growth in the surrounding area and improve productivity for enterprises,” Matthew James Kenley, Head of Partnership Growth IWG APAC said.

    “Our solid relationship with DLI was built on shared values and drive to succeed. With value propositions such as IWG’s global brand equity, resilient business model, and DLI’s proven track record, we are confident that our partnership will strengthen our footprint in Mindanao and accelerate our growth in the Philippines,” Rowena B. Natividad, Head of Partnership Growth, IWG Philippines.