The traditional office is dying, as workforces around the world break free of the nine-to-five mentality, enabled by technology and the sharing economy.
As a result, collaborative or serviced workspaces are becoming an increasingly popular option for entrepreneurs and businesses.
Sandton, as people living in Johannesburg know, is full of prime commercial property. It’s also a prime spot for businesses to be located in. But it’s not cheap.
This is the kind of scenario most budding entrepreneurs, who want to be where it’s happening, confront on a daily basis: Grade A offices range from R150 per square meter to R180 per square meter, and a minimum of a three-year lease is required. That means a 250 square meter space can cost around R45 000 per month, and that excludes VAT, utilities, refuse, water and electricity.
“It’s no wonder entrepreneurs, as well as small and medium business owners, are looking for alternatives,” says Colleen Mansour, chief operating officer of XtraSpace, whose FlexiOffice division operates in the serviced offices and co-work space arena. “We all know that for South Africa to succeed, we need entrepreneurs. Lots and lots of them. Enabling entrepreneurship, therefore, is key to our way of doing business.”
Mansour says there is a distinct trend developing as business owners look to serviced offices and co-work spaces as an alternative to the traditional office. “South Africa’s premier trends forecaster, Dion Chang, recently said businesses have to ‘adapt or become irrelevant’ as technology is powering new ways of work and working, and also impacting on where we work,” says Mansour. “As Chang says, ‘Tried and tested templates of business are either coming to the end of a natural cycle, or are proving glaringly inappropriate for a changing world’, and that’s something we’ve found.”
Mansour says Sandton’s serviced office offering is quite competitive, with companies such as Regus, Flexible Workspace and The Business Exchange all in the game. “We’ve found that pricing, and what one gets for the price, is very different though and we advise entrepreneurs looking into this option to investigate what’s on offer before making a decision,” she says.
FlexiOffice operates several co-work and serviced office space solutions around South Africa with the latest being One Chadwick Co-Working Space, conveniently positioned in Wynberg, just off Grayston Drive in Sandton, Johannesburg.
“One of the major benefits of co-work spaces is that entrepreneurs can concentrate on their businesses without worrying about whether the receptionist is at work or the high speed internet is working. Or even if there’s great coffee on offer! We eliminate the need for set-up costs too,” says Mansour.
“Furniture, printers, video conferencing, projector facilities, boardrooms with conference calling, top of the range switchboard system, fibre internet/data and voice lines. These are all sorted out. Within two hours, an entrepreneur has a fully functional office in an upmarket working environment. What’s not to like?” she asks.
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