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Building a collaborative relationship with IWG plc: an interview with Marnus Van Zyl

Over the past 18 months, DBSJ has teamed up with IWG and its franchise partners to launch 24 new locations across the UK. Rebecca Pearson interviewed Marnus Van Zyl, IWG’s Design & Construction Regional Lead for the UK, Europe, and Africa, to uncover how DBSJ is driving success for the serviced office provider and helping them achieve their ambitious business goals.

The serviced office provider, International Workplace Group (IWG), has been a customer for many members of our team for over seven years, with our Operations Director, Laurence Hill, being awarded the honour of IWG Project Manager of the Year back in 2019.

Since 2022, The team has delivered design and fit-out services for 24 projects all over the UK for IWG’s Spaces, Signature and Regus brands in locations such as London’s Battersea, Euston and Covent Garden, Birmingham, Brighton, Lincoln, Coventry, Kettering, Wolverhampton, Cardiff and many more. The works delivered have varied widely, from minor alterations and refurbishments of existing workspaces to the design and build of offices up to 47,000ft2.

Speaking to DBSJ’s Head of Creative Services, Rebecca Pearson, Marnus Van Zyl shared some insights into how DBSJ is helping IWG achieve its business goals with design and fit-out across its UK estate.

“I would describe DBSJ as a key partner in the UK” commented Marnus. “They make it feel like we are working together toward the same goal and go beyond their scope and responsibilities in all areas. They suggest and deliver proactive solutions to problems we face, adding value as partners, not just contracting value. Over the years, we have built a level of trust and complete transparency where we can talk openly about difficult conversations, confident in the knowledge they have our best interests at heart.”

DBSJ also works with IWG’s franchise partners, such as Celvista, AB Offices, Manor House Group, Cervidae and ACCA Group to deliver projects for the Spaces and Regus brands. The key to a successful franchise is brand and quality consistency and we’re experts in applying IWG’s design guidelines, which we know intimately, to a physical space.

“We recommend contractors and direct vendors to our franchise partners but the perception has always been that they are sceptical that we will not be providing the best price on the market. However, that is no longer the case with DBSJ.” Commented Marnus Van Zyl. “By getting DBSJ to price some of their projects and taking the franchise partners to see some of their work at Battersea and Gloucester, we’ve been able to prove that not only are you competitive but they can see for themselves that the quality of work with a potentially cheaper contractor would not even be half what they would get from DBSJ. Now our franchise partners have built trust with DBSJ and are using them without our involvement, recommending DBSJ to each other.”

Finally, Marnus shared some valuable insights into how IWG measures success across their portfolio. This is what he had to say:

“Our biggest rule of measurement is the occupancy of our centres when they open and we’ve seen a clear indication that when we deliver a centre with DBSJ, our opening occupancy numbers are exceptional. This is due to the quality of the centre and the fact they are always open on time. If there were delays, even by a week, it would impact our sales as we’d have to find alternative office space for people and it isn’t a great customer experience. However, we trust DBSJ to deliver on time – they have never run past the programme opening date.”

With many more projects to come, DBSJ is committed to continuing to help IWG achieve their business goals and open more locations across the UK, to support its strategy to create 15-minute cities such as the case at Battersea, and open more suburban locations to support hybrid working.