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When Jay Cowling joined Regus parent company IWG in June 2021 as its Community Sales Manager Team Leader for Devon, a county in the south-west of the UK, he had no previous knowledge of flexspace. It was a steep learning curve for the 33-year-old at first, but he found his years of management experience easily transferred to the role and, to his delight, he discovered there is never a dull moment in the job.
“In the five months that I have been here, I have never once woken up in the morning and groaned about having to go to work. No day is the same,” he says. “Every day gives me new challenges.”
Before taking on the role, which involves overseeing the operations of five centres in the county, Jay was working as a regional sales manager for a major telecommunications corporation. However, it involved constant travelling around the country and he wanted a job that offered a better work-life balance. His experience opening and running multiple retail stores for his previous employer made him more than qualified for the job.
Now he’s swapped the car and a life on the road for Regus’s centre in Devon’s Plymouth Sutton Harbour area, where he enjoys beautiful sea views, good coffee on tap and a short commute to the office. It was recently named best performing Regus centre in the UK for Q3 based on Net Promoter Score and retention during that period and although he does travel to other centres to carry out spot checks and one-to-ones with staff, this is where he is based.
He starts the day by doing a meet and greet of any clients who have already arrived for the day, then he goes to his desk to work through emails, organise meeting rooms and day office bookings, make a note of calls that he needs to attend and any looming deadlines. Once all the admin duties are out of the way, it’s time to do what he loves best – talking to his team and clients.
“I’m a people person,” he says. “I love to meet people and have a chat with them about their day, ask them what they did on the weekend and what they are doing for the rest of the week. What I enjoy the most is having that relationship with each customer, identifying what their needs and wants are, and what we can help them with.”
Jay also loves helping clients meet each other and make connections that blossom into opportunities. “We have such a diverse number of companies within our centres and across the wider portfolio of brands, so it is absolutely incredible when you introduce one client to another and a relationship and network is built,” he says. Adding: “That’s what I enjoy– we are a community, and if you look after your centre, you look after clients and you look after your team; that is what will be created.”
Most rewarding of all is seeing the positive impact that flexspace – in all its forms – can have on a growing business. He recalls one client who had to close his business and abandon his office space after it was hit hard by the Covid crisis. However, three months later he returned, determined to start again from scratch and initially coworking at the centre. As his new business expanded again, he began hiring a few new staff and was able to move into a small office. Now he’s in a 10-person office and thriving. All within a couple of months.
Jay says: “Knowing that you have made a difference to someone’s life, someone’s business, is one of the most satisfying parts of the job. Simple things such as a client thanking you for the opportunity the centre has given them or the support they have received from you and your team makes all your efforts worthwhile.”
He adds: “We’ve got a client who comes in on a Friday and leaves cookies on the side of my desk in the morning, with a little thank-you note. That’s an amazing feeling, because you are just doing your job. But when you’re passionate about something, that really shows to your clients and they appreciate you and will stay with you for however long they need.”
While he loves his current position, Jay’s long-term career goal is to become an operations director, taking more centres under his wing and moving up through the brand that way. Having joined the company with zero flexspace experience and seen the support that IWG offers its staff at all levels of the business, he believes anything is possible.
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