Leading An Industry: An Interview with Lars Wittig

Date of publishing: 16/02/2017 00:00

Regus has built its reputation as the world’s leading provider of serviced workspaces—with business centers, executive suites, conference rooms, lounges, and virtual offices—spanning 3000 locations, 900 cities, and 120 countries. For over two decades, their business has surged alongside fluctuating work trends, changing office cultures, and shifting demographics. 

 

Lars Wittig, Country Manager for Regus Philippines, is excited to be at the forefront of this industry. In developing the 24 different Regus centers across the country, he deals with region- specific conditions, advantages, and obstacles; from Metro Manila traffic to the localized characteristics of different locales. 

Regus, Net Park Philippines

 

In the thick of the Asian financial crisis in 1999, Regus established its very first office space in the Philippines, at The Enterprise Center in Makati. “That was very remarkable timing,” begins Lars Wittig. “Investors, corporations, big companies— regardless of industry—were circumventing not just the Philippines, but also Southeast and East Asia. We did the opposite... It, very quickly, became a very big success for us, but also for The Enterprise Center landlords and of course, the Philippines.” 

Regus, Net Park Philippines

 

Several companies saw an opportunity to “test the waters” in the country and so the flexibility offered by Regus became an attractive selling point. “Luckily, many of them decided the Philippines was a viable market, and these companies would stay with us and wait until the awful times got better,” Wittig narrates. Back then, Regus acted as an incubator for those companies as well as for the Enterprise Center, marking the beginnings of one of Regus’ core principles: inclusive growth. 

 

For Wittig, it helps to be aware of the modern landscape, keeping up with technology, and embracing global trends. Particularly, “The shared economy—that’s the way to go. We believe, very much, that plays into our hands. We believe that we are representing that shared economy as well... That is what we are embracing.” 

With their entrepreneurial mindset, tech and mobile habits, millennials have pioneered the changes in traditional business practices. Offices have adapted by focusing on mobility and flexibility. Open plan offices encourage greater interaction, while coworking spaces and shared offices promote a collaborative atmosphere. The emergence of the on-demand economy has ushered in more interest in short-term workspaces while also presenting  SMEs and bootstrappers with more viable options. 

 

“Millennials are extremely productive and successful,” Wittig agrees. “They have already, by far statistically, exceeded the previous generation.” He believes that office leases will become shorter and shorter as this young generation continues to gain significant influence, and that demands and expectations will continue to conform to flexible millennial lifestyles. According to Wittig, as employees continue to modify their approach to work and career, employers will inevitably follow, and so will commercial real estate developers. “It is really a grassroots movement. Employers that try to keep up now will be better prepared for it. They need to learn to accommodate.” 

Regus, Sentral Kuala Lumpur

Regus exemplifies this by providing access to their global business lounges, so that members can drop in for free and avail of coffee and Wi-Fi at any Regus location worldwide. Last year, they also launched their coworking brand, Spaces. Founded in the Netherlands, they’ve continued
to expand to Amsterdam, London, New York, San Francisco, Melbourne, and Sydney. 

 

Nowadays, as businesses tend to work flexibly, so should flexibility be built into the office space. One of the trends cited by Regus is that businesses starting out as lean organizations initially sign up for the worry-free promise of temporary spaces, but eventually stick with Regus for their reliability in providing top- grade flexible serviced offices, “Because business is, by nature, dynamic, it is increasingly difficult for companies to predict what their requirements could be 3, 5, 6, or 10 years from now.” 

 

One thing is for sure—3, 5, 6, or 10 years in the future, the ones that continue to adapt will continue to stay afloat. 

 

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