Flexible office space is the future of business
Covid-19 created a new paradigm for work, along with a range of new challenges. Flexible office space, combined with flexible residential space, is the way to overcome these.
Prior to the pandemic, conventional business wisdom indicated that productivity and company culture, among many other advantages, were heavily dependent on the corporate office environment. Because of these perceived advantages, companies competed intensely for prime office space in key urban areas.
As the world becomes used to the ‘new normal’, so businesses have realised that they can access new pools of talent with fewer locational constraints, adopt innovative processes to boost productivity, create an even stronger culture, and – most significantly – reduce real-estate costs.
This is according to a report from McKinsey, entitled ‘Reimagining the office and work life after Covid-19’
The report states: ‘A transformational approach to reinventing offices will be necessary. Instead of adjusting the existing footprint incrementally, companies should take a fresh look at how much and where space is required and how it fosters desired outcomes for collaboration, productivity, culture, and the work experience. The coming transformation will use a portfolio of space solutions: owned space, standard leases, flexible leases, flex space, co-working space, and remote work’.
“We believe that flexible office space is the future of business,” explains Robyn Hunt, General Manager of MAX Serviced Offices. “The pandemic caused chaos during the lockdowns, and led to a lot of people losing jobs, which in turn led to many launching their own entrepreneurial endeavours. Others created successful ‘side hustles’ – personal projects to earn additional money that then took off – while many existing businesses were forced to downscale. These are just some of the individuals and organisations that can benefit from utilising the services MAX provides.”
She points out that whether your business is a start-up that has grown too large for a home office, a company seeking to right-size its office space or just someone who needs an office for a day with guaranteed connectivity and power, MAX delivers exactly what you need.
“The advantage offered by using our offices is that you avoid all the overheads that are traditionally associated with having your own office: no additional personnel costs – MAX provides the receptionist, cleaning and related staff – a guaranteed 200Mb up and down fibre link, guaranteed power, even during loadshedding, guaranteed water, thanks to an on-site borehole and much more, all at an extremely cost-effective rate,” notes Hunt.
“Moreover, your office address is a prestigious one on Sandton Drive, with 24/7 security and a receptionist who answers your calls using your company name. In addition, we have boardrooms if you require meetings, and individual pods for private phone calls.”
She adds that the company had already identified a shift towards this model even before the pandemic, driven by its sheer convenience, and that Covid-19 appears to have simply accelerated this trend.
“A key reason for adopting this model is for the cost savings incurred on overheads, which can now instead be sunk back into your business. The fact that the majority of our clients regularly renew their leases is a clear indication of the value they obtain from us. It is, after all, much easier to grow your business when you can focus completely on it, without having to worry about all the peripheral issues that are not a core part of the business.”
“But its true value lies in its flexibility, in that these offices can be leased for just as long as you require them, whether its for a day, a week, a month or a year or more. So whether you are popping up to Johannesburg for a conference or meeting and need an office while you are here, you need to expand your small business, or you have a larger company, but want a smaller office where staff can hotdesk, we can meet your needs.”
There are many other benefits too, adds Hunt, noting the multitude of networking opportunities that come with sharing office space with other, like-minded businesses.
“More than this, though, is that we create a space for a much healthier work/life balance, as we understand that it is more difficult to get the right balance when working from a home office. At MAX Serviced Offices, we place an emphasis on our clients’ mental health, which is why we are now implementing morning rooftop yoga sessions for those who wish to attend. This is just another way we help our clients achieve a better balance.”
Perhaps what sets MAX apart from its competition is that the company also offers apartments for rent in the same manner. Thus, if you are visiting for a few days and require a temporary office and place to stay, MAX can meet both requirements. This is because guests staying at the apartments have free use of the offices between Monday and Thursday. Crucially, while these apartments can be leased either short term or long term, MAX has made a point of making sure these self-catering apartments are less like a hotel room, and more like a home-away-from-home.
Danielle Nagel, General Manager for MAX Apartments, explains that these complement the serviced offices really well. She points to the benefit these offer to someone relocating from another country or even province, since they are fully furnished and ready for occupation.
“We have had clients from our offices use the apartments – which are only a few minutes apart – for customers or business partners who have travelled to Johannesburg. We have also had people who have relocated take up much longer leases, as it proved easier than house-hunting for them,” she says.
“We offer living space that ranges from studio apartments to three bedroom ones, but with the convenience of a hotel and the same amount of flexibility in the length of the stay. It is also worth noting that while the apartments are all fully self-catering, there is an on-site restaurant, as well as close proximity to many of the best restaurants in the city.”
Nagel notes that the apartments are fully fitted out, and include en-suite bathrooms, washing machines and – in a nod to South Africa’s rich artistic heritage – hand-picked works of local art, individually chosen for each one.
“We really do try to make things feel just like home, adding little touches like – when a family moves in – putting the children’s names on the fridge with magnets. We have also been known to assist with everything from picnic baskets to romantic marriage proposals, as we genuinely treat our guests like family.”
As with the offices, residents do not have to be concerned about overheads. Weekly cleaning, for example, is provided by the company, and all apartments are equipped with WiFi and DSTV. Furthermore, she says, they are situated close to key amenities like the Gautrain, several shopping malls and schools, for those with children that are staying longer term. “To this end, we also have a play area and swimming pool for the children and have fostered a genuine sense of community amongst our guests,” she says.
“We have some guests who have stayed with us for at least a couple of years, despite originally planning to buy their own house. However, they have said that nothing they could find was able to match their experience at our apartments. This is, in fact, something that appeals to many of our guests – the fact that the apartments are fully furnished, offer backup for power, water and connectivity, as well as 24-hour security and service staff, like gardeners and pool cleaners. After all, if you own your own house, these issues all become additional expenses for the owner.”
“I believe that the unique combination of flexible office space and flexible living space that MAX offers has tapped into the post-pandemic Zeitgeist perfectly. We overcome the concern about the negative impacts of remote work by offering the perfect blend of flexible residential and office space, in any combination and for any length of time you require,” concludes Nagel. DM