Research data from the last 18 months has shown a strengthening of flexible work policies, not just in mature markets, but also in emerging economies. Flexible workspace provider Regus is set to make major investments to capitalise on the accelerating global trend.

Over the next three years, Regus will invest to increase its global network by at least 75%, equating to over 800 additional business centres.  The majority of growth will take place across the US and emerging markets such as Brazil, China and India. This move will also take the company into an additional 30 new countries – those in the pipeline include Slovenia, Uruguay, Nepal and Madagascar.

Even in the current market, Regus is experiencing record levels of enquiries and in its last set of financial reports documented an all-time occupancy high of 86,7%.

There is a wide-ranging body of research data evidencing the mainstream trend towards flexible working, and underpinning accelerating demand for flexible workspace,  including:

* 68% of South African businesses believe that flexible working costs less than fixed office working, up on the Global average of 60%[i], saving tens of thousands of rands per employee per year.

* 41% also say that flexible working increases staff productivity.

* 80% of global companies state that flexible working policies attract and retain skilled staff[ii] where almost a third of South African flexible working businesses also feel that their policy helps them access a wider talent pool and a quarter say it helps them employ people in more remote locations.

* 60%of employees say flexible working creates a better work-life balance[iii] compared to the South African average of 70%.

* 25% of firms think business centres provide access to better communications technology.

* 81% of all global companies now offer part of their workforce some form of flexible working compared to the 85% of South African business which offer some form of flexible working.

* Today there are more than 1-billion mobile workers, predicted to rise rapidly to 1,2-billion by 2013.

Mark Dixon, CEO of Regus, says: “Demand for flexible workplaces is clearly burgeoning, the main driver of which is growing awareness of cost savings to be made by converting to flexible working, enabled by developments in cloud and ‘work anywhere’ technology.   Looking at the research we have commissioned across the globe over the last 18 months, together with independent third party sources, it is clear that flexible, mobile working is the new normal.”

[i] MindMetre Research, Regus Global Survey, Spring 2011; see also,  Avaya, Flexible Working 2009, May 2009

[ii] Telework Research Network, US – Workshifting: The Bottom Line, May 2010

[iii] MindMetre Research, Regus Global Survey, Spring 2010