Q&A | Why we chose Upflex to meet our workspace challenge
On-demand flex office providers are on the rise. PlaceTech caught up with Andreas Angelakis, workplace and culture manager at global online marketing company Uberall, to find out why the company chose Upflex to help accommodate staff in the new work-life revolution.
What problems were you looking to solve?
At Uberall we follow the ‘choice first’ principle, which means that our 460 employees are completely free to choose their preferred working space according to their needs and habits, without having to commit to just hybrid or remote working to the exclusion of other options- it’s totally up to them.
We see this as a priceless benefit that increases the quality of employee work-life. To ensure this we’ve partnered with Upflex, providing our people with the flexibility to access numerous great workspaces across the world. We are a global company, so having identified locations in need of collaborative workspaces, we’ve made bookings through Upflex available to our Barcelona, London, Paris, Detroit, Montreal, and Los Angeles teams, some of which were already taking advantage of WeWork’s flexible offices but without the centralised booking system we get to enjoy now.
How does Upflex work for Uberall?
Upflex operates a bespoke on-demand solution – a mixture of memberships and employee pools, split regionally by spend. In addition, its WeWork hubs have been loaded onto the Upflex platform, each with an implemented booking layer allowing Uberall employees to book the workstations. Upflex covers all hub payments and Uberall receives one invoice per country. Centrally Upflex can deliver consolidated reporting, enabling Uberall to continue to refine its solution over time. The consolidated reporting and payment aspect were among the biggest selling points for Uberall.
What results have Upflex delivered?
We’ve been using Upflex’s technology since the beginning of June and so far the results have been impressive – four times as many of our employees now have access to flexible workplaces, but our workspace costs are not even double what we used to pay prior to signing on with Upflex.
Going with Upflex has also allowed us to significantly reduce the admin burden – previously we had to manage the flexible workspace solutions used by the company ourselves but now all the admin and billing are a part of one unified solution.
A great example of Upflex’s effectiveness is the experience of our Barcelona-based team. They’d been in need of a flexible co-working solution for a while, and since the introduction of Upflex, the uptake in Barcelona is among the highest across the whole of the company – their flexible workspace bookings increased tenfold, while our budget for the specific location only doubled.
How did you choose Upflex?
I started looking into flexible workspace solutions for Uberall about a year ago. There are some great options out there but none of them can compare to the fair pricing, coverage and inventory that Upflex has to offer. A friend of mine introduced me to a member of the Upflex team, who explained the whole process in a very accessible way. We really liked the adjustability of the various plans Upflex was able to offer, as well as its exclusive partnership with WeWork, which was very important for us. Having had active WeWork memberships, Upflex was perfect for us – we got to retain access to the WeWork locations we’d been using while being able to take advantage of new ones in our locations of choice. We had spoken to a few other companies in the flex space, but none of them was able to offer anything comparable in terms of geographical spread and flexibility. And no one else has WeWork which is a big plus.
Take us through the process of adopting Upflex
Our main goal was to encourage collaboration and ensure that whatever it is that we choose would make a tangible difference to employee experience. As a first step, we ran a survey across the locations where we wanted to implement flexible workspace solutions to learn more about how our people intended to use the office space, what their expectations and goals were. Based on this survey we set specific metrics on the level of flexibility required and who would need what on a team and individual basis. We agreed on the budget internally and started discussions with Upflex based on the insights of our survey.
As a result, those who were already using WeWork’s coworking spaces (in London and Detroit) could carry on using those spaces, while the rest of the teams were given direct access to flexible office space bookings in their respective locations. Previously, it was difficult for them to find and book meeting spaces or private rooms for ad-hoc gatherings but now they can book whatever they want whenever they want, within the boundaries of our pre-agreed policy, of course.
How long did it take to set up?
We went through the membership options and picked the most suitable ones, formalised the legal aspects of the agreement and three weeks later, we were already having our Upflex admin and user workshops. All of the prep work was finalised in mid-May and we hit the ground running at the beginning of June. Our employees can now access the booking system through a dedicated website and an app.
What were the challenges along the way?
Some of the legal aspects took a bit longer to finalise, but Upflex was very supportive and guided us through the process. What I would say is that lots of companies seem to be putting in place hybrid work strategies without undertaking the research as to what will suit them best, so just sort of putting a finger in the wind. But these are big decisions. So, I can’t stress enough how important carrying out an employee survey was and then be able to work with Upflex to tailor the right flex solution for our team. We are also constantly gathering usage data through the platform to see what is working and what needs to be refined, so whatever we implement is completely optimised for our people.
How have you changed the way you operate?
From an admin perspective, nothing has changed – we didn’t have to arrange any additional training sessions as the platform is very intuitive. Now we’re able to offer our employees real flexibility. It’s a game changer, especially for teams in need of collaboration and frequent flyers – those who travel to international expos or networking events and don’t have a dedicated place to work during the days that they’re there. We really feel like Upflex’s offering is tailored to our needs, and it’s made the transition to the Choice First policy a lot smoother for all of us.