IWG joins forces with new franchise partner to meet demand for hybrid work in London Suburbs and Herts

IWG, a leading franchise providing flexible workspace, including Regus and Spaces, has signed a new franchise agreement with the Ashley Group which will help commuters from North London and Hertfordshire to cut the commute and work closer to home following the pandemic. Recent IWG research has demonstrated the need for businesses to reconsider their attitudes towards office working; 77% of employee’s surveyed cited being closer to home as a key priority when they next moved jobs. In addition, 49% of businesses were considering moving to areas where their workplace lived. 

The franchise deal will see five new IWG centres open across the North London boroughs of Enfield and Barnet, along with Hertfordshire, over the next four years. The move is part of the trend for hybrid working which could be a major financial boost for suburbs, towns and villages across the UK.

A recent economic impact study by IWG and Arup showed that the new wave of flexible office spaces could result in local spending by new workers worth up to £171million a year and more than 4,000 new jobs being created**.

The new deal will see the Ashley Group, experienced franchisee entrepreneurs, move into the flexible working space sector having previously worked held a mixed portfolio of franchise-branded hotels, managed hotels and non-branded hotels. The business also includes central London residential property investments as well as two fitness franchises with 9Round. The partnership is being spearheaded by brothers Alim and Zamir Hirji, who are local to Barnet. The Ashley Group are currently locating and securing the appropriate properties within these boroughs, to get the flexible workspaces open as quickly as possible. 

Zamir Hirji, Director at the Ashley Group said: “We have expanded our business rapidly across the UK over the last five years, from growing our hotel business to our recent gym deal. Now, adding flexible workspace in our local area to our franchise portfolio is an exciting next step. 

Hybrid working was already an attractive business opportunity before the pandemic began and has shown its resilience through lockdowns. Now, as the events of the last year have resulted in irreversible changes to how and where we choose to work, there is a clear need for flexible office space in more UK towns and suburbs.  As a business, we know first-hand the value of having office space options in outer London and we are excited to work with IWG to bring the flexible workspaces of the future to the area.” 

The franchise deal is the latest in IWG’s growth plans of 800 to 1,200 new workspace locations in suburbs, towns and villages across the UK by 2030, the majority through franchising. Post pandemic trends are already showing that workers are splitting their time between home and an office environment as the hybrid model continues to gain momentum. IWG data showed visits to UK offices increased by 24 per cent in September***. 

Julian Chambers, Head of Partnerships Growth at IWG said:  “For many workers, the pandemic highlighted the benefits of working in their local areas and now we are returning to life as normal, people want to keep the advantages of what we call the ’15-minute city’.  This is good news for employees, who will benefit from the flexibility and productivity, but also for local towns and suburbs around the country who could see their local economies and highstreets revived.

As more businesses adopt a hybrid model of working, now is the time for investors to begin exploring suburban areas that could benefit from flexible workspaces. We have seen an increase in enquiries across London, firmly pointing towards the growing appetite for this new way of life”

*IWG, MAJOR FIRMS EMBRACE HYBRID WORKING AS A ‘NEW NORMAL’ TAKES SHAPE, 13 October 2021
**IWG, Hybrid working could add more than £300 million a year to rural and suburban economies, 20 September 2021
***IWG, UK office visits up by a quarter in September return-to-work surge, 13 October 2021

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