LONDON and DUBLIN, April 9 /PRNewswire/ --

- Businesses encourage telecommuting; practice is driving down real estate costs

As recession-battered companies look to save money on real estate costs, a growing number of businesses are equipping their employees with BlackBerrys and laptops and moving them out of the main office as a way of reducing expenses. The Regus Group (LSE: RGU), the leading global provider of workplace solutions, is reporting an increase in virtual office contracts in part to this growing corporate trend.

During these challenging economic times, employers are embracing flexible workplace practices as a key business strategy, said Regus Group CEO Mark Dixon. Companies have created a new band of mobile workers who don't need a full-time office but require a professional environment and support services on-demand. Our Virtual Office program is an ideal solution for this type of worker and is proving popular with businesses eager to reduce facilities cost.

Striking a Balance Between Home and Office

To advance the process, employers are helping workers set up home offices and are securing virtual office locations for them to use instead of heading to the main office. As a result, companies are able to shed costly office space and employees are realizing substantial savings on commuting costs and improved productivity.

GBB Group is a Dutch consulting company based in Regus Amsterdam Sloterdijk centre whose employees work remotely but need a centrally located facility when meeting with clients. GBB enlisted Regus' Virtual Office services to establish a professional business address and to utilize a support staff without the expense of hiring and managing a full-time assistant.

Richard Gillebaard, Director of the GBB Group, explains: Our employees often do their work for our customers either from home or via teleworking. For our customers, a traditional office entails higher overheads, that is why we have chosen Regus Virtual Office. Regus collects our post and sends it to our advisors. They also manage phone calls, transferring them directly to the relevant employees. Using Regus' services is a great advantage for us as it enables us to lower our real estate investments.

In addition to basic, but necessary, office equipment like fax machines and copiers, Virtual Office users have access to day offices, meeting rooms, business lounges and videoconferencing studios. They also have the opportunity to network with other professionals in a business environment quelling the fear of isolation as they adjust to a new work style.

Based on Regus calculations, companies can save up to 60 to 80 percent on their real estate costs by implementing flexible workplace strategies. Virtual Offices are playing a major role in how businesses support employee needs. Consequently, Regus reports a trend of increasing month-on-month demand for the product.

Virtually There - Businesses Test Markets with Minimal Risk

While virtual offices benefit companies looking to trim property expenses, they also serve as a resource for businesses interested in testing new markets without taking on additional costs and risk.

CAPCO Health Group, Inc. a provider of healthcare services in the North American medical insurance community has been a Toronto-based Regus client since 2000 and is using virtual offices to pursue new business opportunities.

For as little as a few hundred dollars a month virtual offices allow us to move into additional markets such as Mexico and Central America, said Ernie Gershon, President and COO of CAPCO. The services along with the office and meeting space we use vary depending on the market and our ever-changing needs. Establishing a presence with virtual offices allows us to avoid costly upfront capital expenditures and minimize our risk. If a market is not as successful as we had initially planned, our investment and risk exposure is minimal.

The local phone number, the recognizable business address and in-country phone answering services that virtual offices provide are also very important to our expansion into these new markets, added Gershon.

Second to payroll, real estate is a company's second largest fixed expense. Increasingly, real estate expenses will come down for businesses who adopt flexible working practices. This newly-saved capital can be re-directed back into the business, said Dixon.

About The Regus Group

The Regus Group is the world's leading provider of pioneering workplace solutions, with products and services ranging from fully equipped offices to professional meeting rooms, business lounges and the largest network of videoconferencing studios. The Regus Group delivers a new way to work, whether it's from home, on the road or from an office.

Clients such as Google, GlaxoSmithKline, and Nokia join thousands of growing small and medium businesses that benefit from outsourcing their office and workplace needs to The Regus Group and allowing them to focus on their core business.

Over 400,000 clients a day benefit from Regus Group facilities spread across a global footprint of 1,000 locations in 450 cities and 75 countries, which allows individuals and companies to work wherever, however and whenever they want to.

Nathalie Renson of The Regus Group, +33-1-70-92-39-37,