Considering that Regus operates in over 100 countries around the globe, how did you successfully adapt your business model to the local challenges in the UAE?
The biggest challenge in the UAE compared to a lot of other countries is the regulatory framework. In Dubai, according to Department of Economic Development (DED) licensing, you have to have a 200-square-foot office, which started from April 2013 and drove out a number of smaller companies that only required a small office. The same thing happened in Abu Dhabi, where the limit went from 13 sqm to 15 sqm. And so we have had to renovate centers, close some places, and lose clients that no longer fitted the model the authorities wanted. In that respect, we simply have to adapt to the ongoing legislative changes when it comes to setting businesses up in business centers.
What does Dubai represent for Regus in the bigger picture?
If you look at the UAE, we have 12 locations open as of today, and 30 in the Gulf area. We're part of a global unrivaled network and this is a key location both for local companies wanting to grow, but also for international businesses to explore the UAE's business potential. We are also in London, Tokyo, New York, and Paris, and Dubai fits comfortably along with those names.
One of Regus' mottos is “flexibility drives profitability." What is the idea behind that?
For example, if a client has four employees, but two are always on the go outside the office, we need the flexibility to be able to offer the right solution. It's no use offering an office with 12 desks when there are only ever two people in the office. If you are in a Regus center, you can have an office that holds four and then, if the business grows, you can easily move to a larger office in the same center. That is flexibility. Regus grows with you and provides you with the flexibility to work anywhere. For example, we have centers at airports, shopping malls, and in petrol stations in places such as the UK. That is the trend we see; fewer people will be sitting in offices all the time.
What is your position regarding eco-friendly and LEED-certificated offices?
This is something that we are now more conscious of when we are looking at centers. We are now designing centers where we have more control of the lighting and the air conditioning. People often leave the air conditioning or lights on, and so it's nice to have more control. In Abu Dhabi, we are currently doing that and I think that we all have a responsibility and we are getting better. I would like to think that with each center we are building we are getting more and more green.