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It all started in Belgium in the summer of 2018 when Europe was in the grip of a heatwave. “There were many reports in the media that students were having issues studying for their exams at the end of the summer,” says William Willems, Regional General Manager of Regus for Belgium and Luxembourg. “They could not find a proper place to study as libraries were full. And, without air conditioning, it was far too hot to study at home.”
At the same time, Regus and another IWG brand, Spaces, were experiencing lower levels of occupancy as members were taking their summer holidays. “During mid-July to mid-August, most of our business lounges were empty,” says Willems, “and more than 90% of our locations have air conditioning.” And so an opportunity emerged to help the national student community boost their productivity: Regus Belgium became the company’s academic pioneer by offering up its locations for “co-studying”.
All Regus and Spaces properties in Belgium – more than 40 locations – opened their doors for students, giving them free access to both brands’ business lounges, as well as free tea, coffee and Wi-Fi. Students simply had to show up and present their student card on business days during official opening hours.
Aside from the cooler working conditions, one of the key co-studying benefits for students was the communal aspect. “It meant they could work in professional surroundings with other students around them, which is a motivating factor and also allowed them to study together,” says Willems.
Fast-forward to today, and the trend for co-studying across Regus and Spaces locations has truly taken off. The original campaign was such a success – receiving so much coverage in the national press – that Regus and Spaces locations have continued to offer free co-studying access for students for the past two years. What’s more, the offer has been extended to the winter months – when the flexible workspace locations are less busy, as members take time off during the festive period.
“This winter especially was a huge success,” says Willems. “Information has spread on social media, and national and local press loved our news. We had more than 500 students per day sitting in our centres on peak days, and we managed to accommodate all of them.”
Many students taking advantage of the free co-studying offer were interviewed on national television to share why it was useful to them. “Students explained why they were coming to us, for example: ‘I am the older of three kids and my two brothers are younger and noisy,’” says Willems. “Or: ‘I am far too distracted by video games,’ or: ‘The library is too far from my home and I’m saving two hours by travelling to a Regus location.’”
Since the co-studying campaign began, it’s not just Belgian students who have gained something. The benefits for businesses who use the Regus and Spaces locations included the opportunity to engage with young, educated talent who would soon be entering the workforce. And as networking opportunities go, being able to co-studying alongside local businesses is second to none.
“Some students coming directly from high schools and universities have been very happy about these recruitments,” says Willems. “So this will probably push students to apply with us when finishing their studies. What was also interesting is that our customers loved the campaign. They found it very generous and supported the action we took. Indirectly, I am sure this will increase our customer-satisfaction score.”
A long-term benefit of opening up Regus and Spaces to students for co-studying is that it has introduced the next generation of workers to the benefits of flexible workspace just before their embark on their careers. “Many of these university students will need to decide where they want to work and how,” says Willems. “And many of them will one day have senior roles and need to decide where to locate their company. Having experienced our products, I am sure they will go in favour of flexible working.”
Try coworking and meet future recruits in your local Regus location