I've also used Regis occasionally when a WeWork wasn't nearby. It was like stepping back 30 years into the past. Instead of getting my corporate-allocated portion of predictable factory-generated open office space, I got what was equivalent to a random left-over desk at your weird uncle's small town real estate agent office 25 years ago.
The whole Regis experience felt like something from the mid-90s. It was a whole different thing than WeWork. The crowd skewed 30 years older and heavily into non-tech industries, the architecture was very "90s small office", etc. I honestly felt like I would turn a corner and see someone using a Packard Bell 486 with a giant CRT. That's how much it reminded me of working in offices in the 90s.
I'm not saying one is good and the other is bad depending on what you need. WeWork often comes off as a parody of itself and can be a ridiculous place to work. But WeWork is also something that most people in their 20s think is a "fun place" where you just "hang out with your friends" where as the Regis offices would probably feel like an old school work prison to them.
I think WeWork is probably a ridiculous business in the long run and I'm not convinced they are even a "coworking" business at all, but I'm happy to spend their VC money to get free office space as long as they want to give it out. Likewise, I can also totally understand why Regis would never excite any investor.
1. The old fashioned office feel at Regus is not necessarily a bad thing. I’m able to focus much better in a Regus office. And I feel like I’m actually getting what I’m paying for (if I want beer, I’ll go to a supermarket). I’ve never had client meetings in either place, but from what I’ve seen Regus is much more the kind of place I’d want to bring clients to if I wanted to give a good impression. This kind of feels like a parallel to the open office versus cubicle debate. Open offices are undoubtedly trendier and more community driven and just feel cool, but if you want to actually be productive and get work done then open offices are kind of a step backwards.
2. Regardless of what’s better in our differing opinions, the business models are more or less the same, so it feels like Regus could be a useful case study when thinking about WeWork. I still find it confusing how most articles about WeWork imply it’s the first company to do what it’s doing at scale and therefore it’s in uncharted tech startup growth mode territory.