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Virtual office space gains traction

Brian Tabaruka

Kampala, Uganda | IAN KATUSIIME | Brian Tabaruka is the Team Leader at Regus Uganda, a serviced office provider in Kampala, Uganda. He spoke to Ian Katusiime about the growth of virtual office space in Kampala.

What’s your management style?

It’s all about teamwork to achieve the best of our potential. I believe everybody has got an idea of what they can contribute towards any direction that the company is taking.

What are the benefits of a fully furnished office?

The obvious benefits of a serviced office are a ready office facility where one doesn’t need to go through the hustle of setting up a new office. Also, one does not need to source contractors for partitioning, buying furniture, installing IT equipment and many others. It is fully serviced because it provides desks cabinets, chairs, fully functioning air conditioner, back-up power, telephones, reception services among others. All these facilities and the entire day to day utilities –water bills, repairs, and maintenance – are catered for.

One of your products is Business lounge. How does this work?

Business lounge caters more to the flexible working people especially those running start-up businesses and majorly out in the field. But in the course of the day, they want to sit down and organise themselves and possibly put reports together. It is therefore a shared lounge facility where on gets on the Wi-Fi and other services at a fraction of the price of a typical office.

Regus operates in an economy where 70% of businesses are informal. How do you reconcile this?

We try to streamline and organise the informal sector. One main reason why that sector is large is the cost of the conventional office. By the time a briefcase gentleman thinks of setting up an office, they are already burdened with rent. They have to deal with overhead costs. At Regus, the business entity will have a flexible package with a small amount of money and an official address.

Regus offers the virtual office facility but this seems to be a crowded industry. How unique are you here?

Regus being the world’s largest serviced office provider means that with more than 3000 locations worldwide, we grant our clients instant access to all our locations across the globe. Our clients instantly become global players and can interact with everybody within the Regus family; the clientele and staff. This sets us apart from many people that provide the virtual office package. I don’t want to think it’s a crowded industry.

We have the market out there and it is about getting people to know it and appreciate what is involved. If you talk about 70% of an informal sector, that’s a huge opportunity.

If you just look at the oil and gas sector, I don’t think any serious player will deal with a briefcase company in the oil and gas sector. They will need proper business documentation and a proper business address to start transacting or earning from any economic opportunity. There may be a few main players but it is a $20billion global industry and this trickles down to the start-up business. There is lots of opportunities there.

What challenges do you face in this business?

Awareness is a challenge. We have worked hard to increase awareness within the market because many people do not know about the serviced office concept.

Where do you see Regus in the next five years from now?

I want to think we will strongly be at a point where we are tipping the scale moving away from the traditional office concept to a flexible ready to use office. We will be saving people’s time and money. People want to be able to work in various locations because no one wants to be tied in one place. We have three locations in Kampala. We should be major market players in a few years. The potential is there because six years ago, we just had one office.

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