- The future workplace is going to become an innovation hub and flexi office space the host, says expert
In March, at the beginning of lockdown, Econsultancy and Marketing Week released the findings of a survey which found that 61% of large enterprises in the UK believed that creativity in a distributed environment would be a critical (23%) or significant (38%) challenge. Forty-nine percent of respondents from SMEs believed that creativity in a distributed environment would be a critical or significant challenge over the longer term.
If lockdown has taught us anything, it’s that an entire workforce can operate and be productive remotely, and that business can continue almost uninterrupted. However, as employers experiment with bringing their employees back to work, and consider what to do with the white elephant they used to call their office, they shouldn’t discount the benefit of an alternative workplace strategy.
The team at Office & Co understand the advantage that creative tension brings a business; that collaboration is one of the driving forces of team innovation which is only possible during face-to-face interactions. And that’s why the Cape Town-based flexible office space provider is bucking the trend and opening a new coworking space in Rosebank, Johannesburg.
Pre-Covid, the flexible, co-working and shared office market accounted for 5% of all office space, having shown 15% year-on-year growth over the past five years.
“It feels counter-intuitive that co-working and flexible office solutions will see a rise in popularity as we come out of this pandemic,” says Andrew Robinson from SiSebenza Spaces, South Africa’s leading aggregator of work spaces. For years he has evangelised the benefits of flexi working environments for businesses, from reduced monthly expenses to the release from the financial liabilities brought by a long-term lease.
“Moving forward, businesses will need to develop a hybrid working solution for employees who don’t need to be in the office eight hours a day, five days a week which negates the need for large office spaces. The focus for businesses now must be on their sustainability; both financially but also reducing the level of risk to employees and a flexible, co-share work environment offers both.”
The new Office & Co space in Rosebank is not only beautifully appointed, creating a home-from-home environment but has also been designed with Covid precautions in mind. Open, public areas offer wider-than-normal spacing, coupled with enclosed spaces of varying sizes to meet tenant requirements. Shared boardrooms are fogged between meetings, sanitiser spray is available at the entrances and in the kitchen areas and all staff are trained to limit potential virus spread. Masks are essential in all public spaces, as is temperature testing at all entrances.
Hot desk options are also available for smaller businesses and gig workers. Beverage stations serving coffee and snacks during the day, and beer and wine late afternoon will be available as soon as it’s safer to do so.
Robinson says the future workplace is going to become an innovation hub – a place where colleagues meet for collaboration and team-building opportunities.
“If people think of the office this way, it becomes an inspiring place where new ideas are nurtured and curiosity is developed, and where community is motivated. Get it right and it won’t be long before people are comfortable making regular forays into the innovation hub to collaborate on new and exciting projects with colleagues.”
Ultimately, the reinvention of the office will be what progressive companies have always endeavoured to create; a safe space where teams can collaborate to achieve the objectives of the business. “As we move into an era of office space as a service, co-working providers who can meet the changing needs of employers, in a hygienic setting, are going to see a rise in popularity,” Robinson concludes.