Mark Dixon’s International Workplace Group has over 3,300 locations across 1,200 cities in 110 countries where it offers conference rooms, offices, coworking spaces and more, making it the largest flexible workspace operator in the world.
Soon after the stock market peaked in February and made Dixon worth nearly $2 billion, the coronavirus forced workers everywhere to work from home, leading IWG’s shares to drop 75%.
Last month, reports claimed that Dixon sent letters to his landlords in the UK seeking a three-month rent freeze in exchange for a lease extension. Soon after, he revealed he was canceling his next dividend payment and pausing on share buybacks to slow down operational costs and optimize cash flow.
This is not the first time Dixon has withstood an economic downturn, and the conservative nature of the company guarantees it will come out of this health crisis stronger than before.
Dixon has betted on people needing access to workspaces without all the hassle, but the industry is vulnerable to major global events like this.
With all of its franchising and growth plans on the back burner, the money it has coming in is expected to keep the company afloat until the pandemic has settled. Plus, companies that did not have flexible offices before the outbreak will likely be planning on doing so in the future.
“[The shift] was already happening. This will just help it along more,” said Dixon. “But we have to get through to the other side of the crisis first.”