A first-to-market partnership has brought a chain of 24/7 stores to IWG locations in the Netherlands to meet the evolving needs of the expanding hybrid workforce.
IWG has been continually adapting and innovating since the company was founded over 30 years ago by CEO Mark Dixon.
In one of its latest developments, IWG has now launched a first-to-market partnership with Wundermart - a Netherlands-based retail tech company that operates 24/7 convenience retail stores that run themselves.
Wundermart - which has already successfully brought the concept to hotels in the Netherlands, Belgium, Germany and the UK - has opened stores at three IWG locations in the Netherlands with scope to roll out further stores at sites across Europe.
The partnership reflects a broader strategy built around hybrid working, where people can split their working hours between an office HQ, a local coworking space and home. With greater convenience and flexibility a core expectation in the new world of work, IWG is piloting new ideas to deliver everything employers and employees need in one place.
And as IWG's Development Director in the Netherlands, Annelou de Groot explains, it is the ideal territory for a pilot scheme. “We like to try ideas first over here, and then they are adopted elsewhere. We like to innovate, and we love to revolutionise!”
The partnership with IWG has taken flexspace to the next level of convenience. The entire process of supplying, stocking and paying is automated, while flex workers can buy fresh produce, on site, whenever they want.
How the partnership began
On any given day, Wundermart will receive dozens of emails via its online request form. But around 18 months ago, a message arrived that caused the customer service desk to look and think, “Is this for real?”
The sender just happened to be Mark Dixon.
“He used the information form on our website,” recalls Wundermart Founder and Director, Patrick Dekker. “Somebody at customer service wondered if it might be a joke, but I just thought I should call the number anyway. And, yes, it was Mark Dixon!”
Around the same time, de Groot had a close friend who had recently joined Wundermart.
When they got talking, de Groot instantly thought it was a concept that could be adapted and integrated into IWG centres.
“I talked to Mark and I picked this up locally. It was meant to be that we got together with Wundermart.” she says.
De Groot pinpointed several sites for Wundermart stores with two opening at Regus Kronenburg in Amstelveen an Regus Business Park in Utrecht in September 2021. Another store opened in November in Amsterdam at Regus CitySide with scope to scale up the partnership across the Netherlands and beyond.
A perfect fit for IWG
Wundermart’s experience in the hospitality sector, coupled with a data-driven business model, made it a perfect fit for IWG.
As Dekker says, “We’re offering a solution where you can take unused square metres in an office or a lobby and convert them into revenue – being open 24/7 with minimal strain on staffing, while making hotel guests or office workers happy.”
De Groot adds: “If you walk into many office buildings, they look like big, beautiful hotel lobbies. Some of those office buildings have internal restaurants, but many don’t. And, if you’re like me, there will be points in the day where you want a snack. Sometimes you may be lucky if you get a chocolate bar. People are looking more for healthy and fresh food, which is what Wundermart can provide.”
At Wundermart’s IWG outposts, hybrid workers can buy daily fresh juices, sandwiches, salads, soups and meals from local suppliers such as Gezondigd, De Keuken van Maass and Bracamonte.
The 15-Minute City
The partnership also taps into a concept known as the ‘15-Minute City’ where everything somebody needs in terms of work, food and amenities is within a 15-minute walk or bike ride from their home. This is especially apt in the Netherlands, a nation with more bikes per capita than any other country in the world.
“That’s also why we think this is a really interesting pilot for Wundermart,” says Dekker. “With IWG, we also get to play around a bit with what works where and how.
“It took us two years to really crack the code of what is the sweet spot for tourists, because you may have people staying in hotels that have travelled from Asia, or the US or Europe.
“We also saw that office space is becoming more and more like a hospitality environment, like a hotel.
“The difference is the data that comes in is more controllable and helps us to work out what is the best proposition for each site.”
Community managers at those IWG centres are also playing an active role in finding out what the Wundermart stores could and should be selling.
“Our community managers are the eyes and the ears on site,” says De Groot. “There was a great induction process from Wundermart to get them involved, to encourage entrepreneurship and to take ownership of a Wundermart shop.
“And all of that feedback is so valuable, because the whole reason for a pilot scheme is to learn, modify and adapt.”
The pilot is still in its infancy, but the early signs are very encouraging and may eventually lead to Wundermarts appearing at multiple IWG centres.
Dekker concludes: “Obviously it’s been a challenging time to do a pilot. Even so, I think we’re going to show it works, and it is of great value having IWG as a partner as we look to expand our collaboration further.”
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