Growth opportunities for healthy office design thanks to as-a-service

From now on, SitStand will offer as-a-service office furnishings, based on a strategic growth vision of healthy office design and the increasing demand for a circular supply from end customers. It does this together with Econocom as a financial partner.

Necessity of change in the office industry

The world of the workspace is in full swing. End users not only want a flexible workplace, but also want to be ablle to charge mobile devices at the same time, want a stable wifi connection and are prepared to be advised ergonomically via apps. All this means that the world of office furniture is gradually going through a (r)evolution. "Digital, however, is still the black sheep of the current office industry, " explains Jeroen Van den Bossche, CEO of Buro International, operating under one of the SitStand brands, 'In addition, the current shake-hands model of buying an selling has its limitations in many cases. I believe in the evolution towards utility models rather than ownership. Let's not be discouraged by the speed of technological evolutions, but rather provide flexible answers such as-a-service. Let's embrace it!"

"The rethinking must also be done on the level of the procurement process. Facility managers still focus too much on price, while within organisations thousands of euros are spent on wages and training. Or they work on ultramodern working environments, but place furniture that is 20 years old. A missed opportunity. Professor Compernolle agrees with this, by the way. In his book "Unleash your brain" he states that the stupidest saving you can make is that of saving on your office space, " Jeroen adds with conviction." With a SitStand desk, the cost is so recouped, thanks to the increased alertness of the employees.

Trend towards circular office furnishings solutions

Jeroen Van den Bossche strongly believes in the circular economy for office design. "We believe in servicing chair, e.g. during their useful life, in repairing them where necessary, but also in taking them back. After all, if the market is well segmented, the office equipment used can be offered to SME's or private individuals. I see this circular model as an inclusive modeller in which everyone has their place."

Today, SitStand sees that large companies in particular are innovation-driven. Large companies show the willingness to think together with external business partners about the optimal design of digital, future-proof workplaces. SME's think much more in terms of products, less in terms of total concepts. 'In addition, we also see a real need for capital on the part of the end customers."

More and more end customers are aiming for staggered payment in order to gain access to innovation.

One of Buro Internation'l end customers was interested in Buro International's SitStand concept, but required staggered payment as a condition. "A question that is becoming more and more common, " adds Jeroen.

The shift from a sales model to an as-a-service model has a number of accounting and operational implications for the supplier. "In the first place, you can't book turnover and margin upfront, which of course has a serious impact. You have to pre-finance. You remain the owner, so you have to activate on the balance sheet, and you work with receivables. This is good for a number of files, but once you talk about large volumes, i already saw the mood of solvency problems hanging over you," says Jeroen. "The invoicing flow also needs to be adjusted from a one-off invoice to periodic invoices. The follow-up of these invoices and possible reminders also requires more time and energy."

Large banks still think too much in terms of assets and liabilities 

Buro Internatonal was looking for an external financing partner in order not to create a solvency bottleneck of itself. He started his round in first place with the major banks and was presented with a range of possible financial solutions: a loan, some of which only wanted to talk about a multiple of the requested investment amount; others offered factoring. None of the proposals convinced Jeroen. "I also felt that banks were thinking again and again from the point of view of assets and liabilties.

Quest for flexibily and alignment of cash-in and cash-out

Jeroen continues: "I started my search for an external party that was willing to move quickly, could offer the required flexibilty. I found that sparring partner in Econocom." Econocom offered an off-balance sheet financing solution over 5 years. "I was looking for a partner with as-a-service expertise, who showed the willingness to help in the living lab of the future-proof digital workplace, who could help to shape our vision and to finance flexibly, to take on the role as integrator. Econocom offers us the financial capabilities to meet the circular, as-a-service demands of our end customers. For all these reasons, we have partnered with Econocom. The as-a-service provides a permanently up-to-date, healthy workplave, a relief for facilities. An all-inclusive price alo facilitates costing and possible internatl invoicing of costs, which is often the case at large organisations, at co-working offices."