Filling up on petrol station offices

Wed Mar 13, 2013 6:41am EDT

The price board of an 'Shell' petrol station is pictured in Wiesbaden, February 23, 2011. REUTERS/Alex Domanski

The price board of an 'Shell' petrol station is pictured in Wiesbaden, February 23, 2011.

Credit: Reuters/Alex Domanski

(Reuters.com) - Seeking a place to work out of the office that is quieter than a bustling coffee shop and provides drinks, printers, Wi-Fi and even petrol?

Regus, a provider of ready-to-use office space, thinks it has the answer.

It has teamed up with Shell Germany to open up workplace hubs and lounges in 70 petrol stations in and around Berlin that will provide Wi-Fi hotspots, scanners, printers, phone charging and even meeting rooms, depending on the space available.

"You already see people working in Starbucks, hotel lobbies. They want facilities they're not getting there though, such as printers, phone charging, the ability to sit somewhere quiet and make a phone call," Phil Kemp, global managing director for Regus Third Place told Reuters.

The hubs are what Regus terms the 'third place' for workers, the first and second being the office and the home. Working in this way is a trend that is being driven by the explosion in tablet computers and smartphones.

"People are no longer bound by the nine-to-five, or having to physically be in an office," Kemp said.

"With a mixture of the office, home and third place, you can be there to pick up the children from school, get to that important event and cut down on commuting times," he added.

The Shell deal is part of a wider strategy to bring these third places to air, road, rail and retail locations all over the world.

Regus has already set up hubs within four Staples office stores in the UK, and has a series of workhubs on the rail network in the Netherlands. It is in talks with airports too, but has not announced any deals yet.

"We're trying to do this globally; we'll focus on Western Europe and the United States initially and then look to spread further," Kemp said.

Regus doesn't break down numbers for its Third Place activities, saying it is too soon as the unit is still in the start-up phase. Overall the group has revenue of 1.24 billion pounds, generated from over 1,500 locations in 100 countries.

(Reporting by Victoria Bryan. Editing by Peter Myers)