Specialist insight

All hail the 15‑Minute City: how Regus is helping to make local living a reality

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While Covid-19 has caused chaos across the globe, it’s increasingly evident that the pandemic has had at least one positive side effect. It has catalysed a shift in companies’ attitudes to flexible working, with clear benefits for businesses and the people who work for them.

Long drives, overpriced city lunches, train delays and missed parents’ evenings could become distant memories as companies shift to hybrid ways of working, post-pandemic. Approaches such as the hub-and-spoke model involve a reimagining of corporate HQs as spaces for connection and collaboration (‘hubs’), rather than bases from which people are expected to work every day. When they’re not required for face-to-face sessions, employees are given the freedom to work from satellite locations (‘spokes’), such as local flexible workspaces.

Regus centres, as part of the IWG stable, have been opened up to more than a million new customers in the first half of 2021 alone through deals with global firms such as EY, NTT and Standard Chartered bank – all of whom have chosen to adopt the hub-and-spoke model permanently.

Moves like these – and the flexspaces that support them – mean the concept of the 15-Minute City is closer than ever to becoming a reality.

So, what is a 15-Minute City?

The 15-Minute City theory is the brainchild of Professor Carlos Moreno, who is based at the Sorbonne in Paris. Based on Moreno’s theory of four pillars – proximity, diversity, density and ubiquity – it’s about redesigning towns and cities so they function as neighbourhoods that work around basic human needs.

In a nutshell, a 15-Minute City is a place where everything a resident needs – from work and education to restaurants and parks – can be reached within a quarter of an hour, on foot or by bike.

One of the original champions of Moreno’s concept is Anne Hidalgo, Mayor of Paris, who used the 15-Minute City as a central plank of her successful 2020 election campaign. Like Moreno, Hidalgo sees the benefits of a localised life away from central business districts. Her vision is that Parisians benefit from a better work-life balance and more connection with their communities, as well as reduced carbon emissions in the city.

Bringing the concept to life

Elsewhere in Europe, Copenhagen, Berlin, Madrid and Milan are thought of as ‘hotspots’ for the realisation of the 15-Minute City.

In the USA, cities like Portland, Oregon, where the ’20-Minute neighbourhood’ has been a planning concept since 2010, and Austin, Texas, are both seeing firms set up workspaces in suburban locations instead of city centres, in order to offer employees and local residents a 15-Minute lifestyle.

In the UK, the seaside city of Brighton is a great example of the concept’s success. Popular residential areas like Hanover, Kemptown and Fiveways are all within a 15 minute walk or cycle of the city’s main shopping areas, banks, theatres and restaurants – not to mention the beach and the South Downs National Park.

Brighton already boasts two Regus centres – Regus Tower Point and Regus Queensberry House – and both are accessible on foot or by bike from nearby homes. Last summer, in response to the Covid-19 crisis, Brighton & Hove City Council also announced radical changes to its streets. The aim, in line with the 15-Minute City ideal, is to improve walkability.

Meanwhile, Ipswich Borough Council has recently introduced plans to become the UK’s first ’15-Minute town’. Proposals include green spaces, schools, offices and recreation facilities, with an emphasis on the waterfront. All amenities will be within a 15 minute walk of residences – and this reimagining will see the popular Suffolk town become less of a retail destination, instead promoting the development of a vibrant local community.

Suburban office solutions

As businesses recognise the need to be where workers already are, rather than expect staff to come to them, the demand for flexible workspaces in suburban locations is on the rise.

With centres throughout the world, Regus serves large cities as well as their surrounding areas – so they’re ideally placed to help make the 15-Minute City a reality.

Mark Dixon, IWG CEO, says: “People have been proven in recent months to be just as effective and productive [away from company HQs] – not just at home, but also in offices ‘around the corner’. Just when local cities and towns seemed to be dying, Covid-19 may have come along and saved them. People want to work close to where they live. It’s going to stick.”

Regus has been at the forefront of the way we work since opening its first location in 1989. Find out how we could help you embrace the new 15-Minute City ideal today