Worsening traffic, increased connectivity, rising rent, and a struggling economy have all contributed to a new way of working. Rather than slogging to the office five days a week, an an ever-growing number of South Africans are doing their work remotely. But what does this mean for the commercial sector? And what can landlords do to increase tenant appetite?
For many professionals, the ability to work from home poses a great opportunity. Increased productivity and lowered stress levels add up to a better final product. Not all companies, however, are able to fully embrace this shift.
Enter: the shared office. Offering companies a convenient and fully equipped workspace, shared office spaces are becoming more popular by the day. Whether you need a private meeting room, a few desks, or simply a place to meet up for a quick team coffee, there are office spaces for everyone.
“The adverse effect of remote or shared office space on the commercial property market is a very real concern, yet it is equally reassuring that with a little effort and out-of-the-box thinking, the negative can be turned into an economically rewarding positive,” says Leon Breytenbach, national manager of the Rawson Property Group’s commercial division.
The Work Space (Gauteng, Western Cape, Kwazulu Natal)
From R1050 per person/month (excl VAT)
This includes the use of facilities for two hours per day, up to 40 hours per month. Within those hours, you also get access to a meeting room for two hours per month.
Work&Co (Cape Town)
From R390 per person/day (excl VAT)
All facilities are included, such as coffee, printing, internet, and lockers. Clients pay for the days they use, with monthly packages available.
From R2250 per desk/month
The rate includes a permanent, allocated desk, access to coffee facilities, internet, and 24/7 access to your desk.
The Sett (Durban)
From R60 per desk/hour
Clients are able to purchase flexible workspace credits, from one hour to monthly plans. Facilities include unlimited coffee and wifi and access to brainstorm rooms.
Real life application
We’ve all seen the far-fetched articles about privacy pods, nap rooms, and spas in offices to retain tenants. While these may very well become the norm in the future, current trends are simpler to follow.
Most office spaces are designed for long term, fixed tenants. Owners can capitalise on the flexible office market by adding more relevant amenities and spaces. A common misconception is that startups or small companies are the main users of co-working spaces. Not so, explains Breytenbach: “The fastest growing sector of the co-working market is made up of large corporates, many of which prefer short-term real estate contracts with flexible provisions. An ever growing number will not consider leasing premises unless the building also offers flexible extra space.”
Flexible office space allows companies to only use an office when they truly need to. This not only cuts down on expenses, but can also improve the overall productivity of a team. As a landlord, you can make simple adaptations to an existing building, adding to its appeal with an ever-growing number of savvy tenants.
What tenants want
Connectivity: No company can function in today’s market without a reliable internet connection. This extends to phone lines. Adding a quality internet connection to your building – and ensuring regular maintenance – can make all the difference.
Common areas: While it may seem counterintuitive, having more open and communal spaces could do wonders to your office setup.
Variety: Not every tenant will want a shared office space. Likewise, not everyone needs a boardroom. Utilise the space in a different way, incorporating different sized offices and meeting rooms for different types of tenants.
Perks: While we may not be living in the era of nap rooms in the office just yet, having good coffee, printing and copying facilities, and a cafeteria or adequate outside space ranks high on prospective co-work tenants’ lists.
Services: An ever-growing number of co-working spaces are offering tenants reception services. Ideal for small companies in need of a more formal front-end, this service includes everything from scheduling meetings to answering the phone.
Flexibility: Whether the tenant needs a single desk or a boardroom, for one day or a year, your office should offer options. Offering different packages for different spaces can attract a wider range of companies to your space.
Inspiration: One of the main perks of working from a shared office space, is the opportunity to learn from others. Rather than wanting to work in an isolated space, many companies are craving this interaction with like-minded individuals. It might be a good idea to host monthly meet-ups, talks, or casual seminars. This is also something to keep in mind when planning the layout of your co-working space.