Workspace provider Regus is facing criticism for charging rent on deserted offices to start-up businesses that have been ordered to shut by the government.
As the UK battles to contain the coronavirus outbreak global office space provider Regus continues to chase and charge clients for full rates, and has refused requests to terminate or suspend contracts.
It has sparked concerns that the organisation is putting “profit before welfare” in the wake of an ongoing global health crisis.
The head of partnerships at one company still paying in full for rent of their empty office space said: “It’s deeply worrying, distressing and disappointing that despite the challenges at present for many businesses across the UK, Regus have offered no formal or official communication to tenants, who are mainly small businesses, during this time.
“They have offered no reassurance that rent breaks will be considered. It is also worrying that, despite government advice and requests, their offices remain open and [their own] staff have to work.”
A marketing firm, which is based within one of Regus’ London locations said that its office closed on the 12th March and it told Regus it didn’t require the space any more.
A consultancy firm that also uses a Regus office has been charged, too.
Its founder slammed the workspace business’ “greed”, telling saying that he has been hounded for payment despite working from home.
“To say we are disappointed in Regus’s lack of support is an understatement,” he said. “During recent years I have been increasingly concerned with the lack of customer service from them but this is a whole new level of greed from an organisation.
“They have said little to nothing about how they are dealing with this and have only responded with requests for full payment, not even acknowledging that they are going against all government recommendations.
“I for one will be terminating agreement with them as soon as humanly possible.”
In correspondence to customers Regus state that its current priority is “ensuring continuity of service wherever possible including meeting our obligations to our landlords”, adding: “Therefore is it is important that we do not have a gap in payments during this time.”
Another Regus manager wrote to a client on Wednesday: “While many businesses are choosing to send their workforce home to work, this is not our choice to make for our customers. This is up to each individual organisation to make for their individual employees.”
Disgruntled staff from various companies across the UK have complained on Twitter echoing similar concerns including Mark Wright who won Series 10 of The Apprentice
Many office building providers are giving tenants rental holidays so they can get their staff and business through this very tough time. Not @Regus_UK they continue to bully their clients into paying which could cost many staff their jobs. Unbelievable behaviour. SMEs need help!!
— Mark Wright (@Mark_E_Wright) March 21, 2020
The prime minister put Britain on lockdown on Monday as he outlined strict new measures to curb the spread of Covid-19, ordering people to only leave the house for a few specific reasons.
On March 16, Boris Johnson formally advised people to avoid “non-essential” contact and take precautions against spreading the virus.
Commenting on the problem IWG plc, Regus’ owners, said “this is new territory for all of us and we want to help”.
“IWG supports millions of workers. We provide many services to help our customers work efficiently and we are keeping these running using small groups of dedicated volunteers from our team members,”
“We have a large number of customers that are providing numerous critical services during the current crisis, including the ambulance service, doctors and medical research companies, along with over 250,000 people that we are supporting working at home.
“We have seen enormous growth in support needed in recent weeks, particularly for our mail handling, internet, and technology services with so many people working remotely.”
“If any of our customers are experiencing financial difficulties, we are working with them to provide assistance where we can,” the spokesperson added.