Flex work spaces are the way to go as more people work from home
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CASSIM Khan, a KwaZulu-Natal property professional, has become the first South African franchisee to sign up with international flex workplace solutions brand, Regus.
The move comes in the wake of a growing shift in the industry for hybrid business operating solutions.
Many people are working from home since the Covid-19 pandemic so companies no longer need large operational spaces. Khan said that instead of having to reinvest capital into moving shop, there was a growth in the rent-a-flex-space market.
Khan has partnered with Regus to provide a flexible workplace solution at The Victoria Country Club Estate in Pietermaritzburg.
He said: “Regus started 30 years ago when it was launched in Europe for people who preferred the flexibility of working from the office and out of a coffee shop, for example. So, if you came to Regus, they would offer you a flexible workspace. Workstations (however many you required), a reception service, boardroom facilities, office kitchen facilities, etc. You would have an entire office service out of one bill, where you are not managing anything. You only focus on your business and not on running an office.
“South Africa already has 56 Regus sites, but the model is now changing because of the Covid pandemic. More people have started working from home and companies are asking themselves: why do I need all the space and running costs (like rentals, utilities, office maintenance etc) when I can work from anywhere? A lot of businesses want to start going the hybrid route and Regus has now franchised their model.”
He is planning three or four more franchises in addition to The Victoria Country Club Estate.
How it works
Khan said instead of having to commit to a five or 10-year lease, and still investing in the set up costs for a business, they offered leases from a month to three months, or even six months.
“Our model is set up in upmarket locations, giving your business a really good address. You have the flexibility of having a professional office space with fully equipped workstations and a boardroom, and other facilities to rent as you need. Workstations can be flexed up or down, depending on your staff needs and business growth. Reception and security services, a fibre line and your own telephone system, all included, without the cost of maintaining and running your entire office.
“So let's take a small business, as an example, like an attorney with a receptionist and two paralegals. Suddenly they grow to four paralegals and another partner. Traditionally, they would have to move offices with bigger set up costs. With this model they would just add more office space to their package, like an extra workstation or meeting room.
It's commitment based on what you're comfortable with, a customised solution so they focus on growing their business without the hassle of worrying about more capital. You only pay for what you have used. If you didn't use the boardroom, you don't have to pay,” Khan said.
He added that the prime location, in this case Victoria County Country Club Estate, was also a tranquil space to entertain clients.
“You have the country club where you can enjoy a game of golf or have a meal. It ticks all the boxes. If a small company is not going to be able to buy a premium location with all the benefits of what the big boys have, the flexi hybrid route offers it to you according to your budget, or even less than what you're paying right now.”
Office of the future
Khan said these were the models that were growing and would develop further down the line.
“In South Africa right now, entrepreneurs will tell you they don't know where they stand. They can't predict what's going to happen in the future. We are living in a very unpredictable time, but we still want to operate our businesses. The hybrid, flexi-space option caters for those players as well.”
He said at the moment, large business spaces were empty which could be converted into flexi office spaces.
“For example, I have an international company in my building that used to have an office costing them R80 000 per month. Now with some of them working from home and some of them working from the Regus office, it's costing them R25000 per month. They had a big office, wasting space and running up costs. They let go of that building, hired a section of the Regus space and catered for eight people.
There was no end to the flexi option, Khan said.
“Another example, if you are a Johannesburg-based company and you want a national footprint you can use Regus to instantly click that button and maybe have an office in Cape Town with two people and there's nothing to worry about in terms of setting up a new office and paying bills and related costs. So you can easily establish a national company.”
There was also a subscription model where a person that is on membership can work out of any Regus office space anywhere in the world.
“So if you are in London tomorrow and you went into a Regus centre you can work out of that space. It’s about changing the way the office should look and changing the flexibility of how companies are going to work. And with the pandemic coming into play, now more than ever people are really re-looking at their business models.
“People are already working from home and it has become about creating flexible working structures, outsourcing those items that are not needed, bringing costs down and still having the same amount of productivity. Before Covid-19 online meetings were practically unheard of here in South Africa. Today, everyday people are in online meetings. We are saying that the workplace and the work environment and work flexibility is changing as well,” said Khan.
*More information here.