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Alongside startups, big companies are using flexspace to scale up too
When you think of a collaborative workspace, what springs to mind? Is it a bright, inspiring environment filled with entrepreneurs and startups? If so, you wouldn’t be far wrong – it’s the perfect place for a way of working that invites flexibility. But a lesser-known (and growing) trend is for larger companies to adopt the flexwork model too, as the benefits of a more agile set-up are being recognised across the scale.
In France, two such big companies are energy-supplier Engie and software-maker Oracle. They have both taken the decision to rent a coworking space because it makes sense on both a company level and for employees. According to Philippe Ernandes, Engie’s Deputy Property Manager, his company’s digital teams made the move primarily to capitalise on coworking’s flexible nature: “We chose the Regus Paris Saint-Lazare centre, located on rue de Londres, for its ideal location but also because Regus offers the possibility of modulating spaces according to our needs. We are looking for real-estate flexibility: our workforce fluctuates quickly and the evolution of certain activities is difficult to anticipate.” As Engie scaled up business, Regus was able to scale with it. “The space in Saint-Lazare, which we invested in 2016, originally had fewer than 50 people. There are 200 today,” he adds.
The international (and national) network that Regus offers was a bonus too. “We were able to expand to Japan to launch a new business activity in a strategic area. And we also use local Regus sites during temporary team relocations,” Ernandes says. Oracle’s Real Estate and General Services Manager Thierry Leservot concurs: “We chose Regus because the brand has centres all over France. All of our local teams in Nantes, Rennes, Lyon and Sophia Antipolis are now working in Regus business centres,” he states. Location also plays a part when it comes to new hires, according to Ernandes. “Our digital team habitually needs to recruit external candidates,” he says, “and having teams in a coworking centre in the heart of the capital adds real value when it comes to attracting and retaining talent.”
For Engie, the option to improve work efficiency by moving out of a corporate structure and into somewhere that promotes thinking differently was also a big draw. “We wanted to be disruptive and free ourselves from the traditional codes of the office,” Ernandes says. And a working area that attracts all different types of business, where cross-pollination and networking opportunities abound, is designed to do just that. Christophe Burckart, Managing Director of IWG France, agrees: “Our coworking spaces have become real ecosystems where companies of all sizes can evolve together: startups are enriched by the experience of established companies, large groups are inspired by the creativity and daring of startups,” he says. At the end of the day, it’s all about growth: “Our goal is to provide them with services and expertise to improve work efficiency and accelerate opportunities,” he adds.