Q&A: working for long-term success

Zach Douglas, Co-founder, OregaQ: How has Orega stayed relevant?

A: Over the last two decades, we’ve adapted, evolved and modified our model to ensure we’re profitable and relevant.

I think it is down to the fact that Paul Finch, with whom I founded the company in 2000, and I both understood from day one the importance of putting customers’ needs first. We built a flexible workspace that could accommodate change for every type of business looking for an agile work environment.

This year our space has achieved a net promoter score (NPS) for customer service in line with leading brands, such as Amazon and John Lewis.

Drawing on our first-hand experience in the sector, we both knew we wanted to offer landlords, such as Propcos and Funds, an alternative to the traditional lease model.

To set ourselves apart, we developed a management agreement model where the owner can provide first-class amenities for the building and retain full control of their asset.

Part of this control is financial with fully auditable and transparent accounts, retaining 100 per cent of customer deposits in client accounts.

Q: What makes a great flexible workspace?

A: It starts with a great location. Our business centres are centrally located and close to transport links. Then, it’s about the workspaces themselves, ensuring they offer a combination of being both aesthetically pleasing, while supporting optimum workplace performance.

We are dedicated to creating corporate quality environments to provide a flexible, professional, productive and, most importantly, enjoyable work environment.

Our customers’ success is completely aligned with our own success and we have always understood this.

Q: How do you stand out from the crowd? 

A: Orega is focused on making our customers’ business work. We offer a blank canvas so they can put their own unique stamp on their office space, working with them to create an environment tailored to
their requirements.

Our solutions range from long-term contracts with flex-up and down options, project space, short-term requirements and swing space.

We’re unique in that we don’t offer memberships. Customers in our centres belong there, giving their guests the appropriate first impressions, availability of all facilities, privacy and the right environment to conduct business.

Also, our experience in the sector means we know moving is costly, time consuming and stressful, therefore we offer a “perfect move-in” service providing a turnkey experience.

One trend we’ve distanced ourselves from is the significant reduction in working space. When we started, around 60-plus square foot per person was offered and now we see some competitors at less than half that. Our focus on the right environment to do business gives our customers more space and contributes positively to their workplace wellbeing.

Q: What makes Orega customers so loyal?

A: We have a business model that means if you’re a decision-maker, placing your people in a flexible workspace, you get certainty on long-term security without the long-term liability.

That’s why customers stay with Orega, on average for three years and our longest-running client has been with us for more than ten.

As we’re in partnership with our landlords, as economic changes occur, we will continue to operate. This provides the security of continued service to our customers because Orega has proven to be a no-risk, resilient provider.

Closure of several high street retailers is testament that a traditional lease model carries with it a lot of risk, and therefore customer risk, which doesn’t exist under a management agreement.

We are dedicated to creating corporate quality environments to provide a flexible, professional, productive and, most importantly, enjoyable work environment

Q: What are Orega’s biggest achievements? 

A: We now have 18 business centres across the UK and 7,300 workstations, and I’m proud to say Orega has stayed true to our service, value and quality mantra. This is demonstrated by leading NPS scores and strong customer retention from all types of customer profiles, including world-leading corporates, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), startups and everything in between.

Q: How have you survived and thrived?

We have traded through two difficult economic periods. We watch the current market growth and can’t quite understand the buy-long, at the top of the market, and sell-short strategy of the newcomers.

The market needs to mature as the hotel market did, as it’s about long-term asset-based returns for delivering short to medium-term flexible real estate. We’ve proven that we’re in this market for the long term and our customer base recognise Orega as being a brand that stands for service, value and quality.

Q: How hands-on are you these days?

A: Day-to-day the business is led by Lynsey O’Keefe, chief operating officer, supported by Laura Walker, sales and marketing director, and Ann Fahey, finance director. We have a wealth of experience in serviced offices, real estate, hospitality and facilities management, from SMEs to large corporates, underpinning our values and exceeding customer expectations.

After many years of doing everything, I now focus on business growth and real estate development, which is what really energises me. That and my passion for cycling that led to our involvement with Ride 25, which started in London and ends in Sydney, where I cycle with my fellow property execs, completing legs of 600km in four days every year.

We are now the primary sponsor of the event, which is doing so much good on the ground. I saw this for myself when I visited Uganda last year, enabling more than 240 street children to go to school, have a place to live and a future to look forward to. Next up is Turkey, so I’m going to be very hands-on, especially on those hills.

Q: Where next in 2020?

A: In the last year, we’ve opened five new centres in the UK. Most recently, Old Bailey in January 2020, a stunning building in the heart of London, which is nearly three-quarters occupied. This is going to be another busy year, we have a business model that works for our customers and we are excited for the year ahead.

Our focus remains on profitable, sustainable growth where we exceed our landlords’ expectations. Our business centres now feature cutting-edge design, high-end furniture and state-of-the-art technology.

For example, our breakout areas are equipped with plug-and-play screens and meeting rooms feature 86-inch Clevertouch interactive screens for seamless team collaboration. Desk phones are enabled for smartphones, premium coffee can be customised at the touch of a button, customer feedback is real time and centres are now keyless.

The industry is changing and so are we, welcome to the new Orega.

For more information please visit www.orega.com