Buckshot dismissals are risky

By lvan lsraelstam, chief executive of Labour Law Management Consulting

Frequently employers know that serious misconduct has occurred but are unable to prove which employee or employees are responsible. This can occur in a variety of circumstances.

For example:

• Stock may go missing from a warehouse or retail store where any of a number of employees had access to the stock and opportunity to remove it

• Damage may have been caused to business machinery in a workshop used by numerous employees

• Confidential information may have been leaked

• There may be cash shortages in tills or other cash storage points

Employers are often tempted in such cases to discipline everyone who could possibly have been involved in such misconduct. This buckshot approach by employers may be motivated by a number of factors including the thinking that:

• If we fire the lot we will be sure to get rid of the culprit

• Some case law has given the impression that such group dismissals may be justified

In the case of NUSFRAW obo Gomez & others vs Score Supermarkets (2003, 8 BALR 925) a group of managers were dismissed as a result of stock losses amounting to six million rand. While there was no proof that these managers were guilty they were fired. The CCMA arbitrator found that the poor management of the business by the dismissed employees had led to the losses and that this justified the dismissal.

Again in the case of FEDCRAW vs Snip Trading (Pty) Ltd the arbitrator ruled in favour of group dismissals. Here, the employer had a policy which held every employee responsible for stock losses. When stock disappeared several employees were fired despite the absence of direct evidence of their guilt.

The arbitrator found that the concept of group responsibility for stock losses was not unfair under the circumstances.

The outcomes of these two cases have misled a number of employers into believing that group dismissals are inherently fair. However, this will only hold true in exceptional circumstances. It will depend on the extent to which the employees specifically have responsibility for prevention of losses and have the means of preventing losses. It will also depend on the viewpoint of each individual arbitrator.

For example, in NUM & Others vs RSA Geological Services (2004, 1 BALR 1) fifteen employees were dismissed after kimberlite was found dumped down a borehole. The CCMA upheld the dismissal of five of the employees because there was some evidence of their individual guilt. However, the arbitrator ordered the reinstatement of the other ten employees as there was insufficient proof that they had been implicated in the dumping of the kimberlite.

Again in SAGAWU obo Cingo & Another vs Pep SA Limited (2004, 10 BALR 1262) the entire staff of one of the employer’s stores were dismissed for stock losses. The CCMA found that the group dismissal was unfair because the employer had failed to prove that the dismissed employees were guilty of misconduct. The dismissed employees were reinstated with full retrospective effect.

The apparent lack of consistency in case law and the powerful laws protecting employees from unfair dismissal sound a strong warning to employers not to act against employees before they fully understand their legal rights. The correct actions of the employer will differ from case to case depending on a number of legal subtleties and interpretations.

By Douglas Karr for MarTech 

When it comes to analysing the beliefs and purchasing habits of different consumer groups, marketers tend to overlook dads. Many assume that men who are dads have similar habits to those who aren’t dads, or they use outdated stereotypes of fathers when crafting their messaging.

However, today’s fathers have well-defined beliefs about their roles, distinct purchasing behaviors, and are digitally savvy.

Key amongst these findings is the impact of fatherhood on purchase behavior and brand affinity:

  • 44% of fathers changed food/beverage/grocery brands
  • 42% of fathers changed household cleaning products
  • 36% of fathers changed personal care products
  • 27% of fathers changed financial products

In honour of Father’s Day, MDG Advertising has created a new infographic that shows which behaviours and statistics brands should consider when developing products and services geared toward dads:

  • Dads do not like how they are portrayed
  • Dads see fatherhood as important and rewarding
  • Many dads don’t think they devote enough time to fatherhood
  • Dads make important—and different—purchase decisions
  • Digital and mobile are essential for younger dads

The infographic

Source: Fin24; The Citizen

The National Minimum Wage Bill submitted before the National Assembly on Tuesday is a historic achievement – a direct response to the call made in the 1955 Freedom Charter, and a first since the dawn of South Africa’s, Labour Minister Mildred Oliphant said on Tuesday.

The National Minimum Wage Bill, which sets minimum wages at R3 500 a month or R20 an hour, was passed with 202 votes from mostly ANC benches. The other two Bills, the Basic Conditions of Employment Amendment Bill and Labour Relations Amendment Bill also passed with the same number of votes.

All three Bills have been severely criticised by opposition parties, as well as Saftu.

All three bills were passed by the National Assembly and will be sent to the National Council of Provinces for concurrence.

“Every journey starts often with a small step. The journey to address the plight of the lowest paid workers reached a milestone,” she said. Oliphant added that even though the bills seemed “mild”, they are “groundbreaking” in character.

Referring to the “robust engagement” between social partners throughout the formulation of the bills, Oliphant said it is a reminder that democracy is alive and real in South Africa.

“We must recognise that we may not agree all the time, it is normal to disagree at times.”

The national minimum wage seeks to improve the lives of the lowest paid workers in the labour market and will address the inequality challenge in South Africa and by extension poverty, Oliphant explained.

A national minimum wage commission will also be established to take over the functions of the Employment Equity Commission. The commission will review the national minimum wage, currently at R20 per hour, annually.

Oliphant added that the Basic Conditions of Employment Amendment Billl has proposed amendments as a consequence of the National Minimum Wage Bill.

It is designed to reinforce and create an “enabling legal environment” for the national minimum wage. It also redefines the role of the Council for Conciliation Mediation and Arbitration on matters which may arise as a result of the implementation of the minimum wage.

The Labour Relations Amendment Bill in turn will give effect to a code of good practice on strengthening collective bargaining, preventing violent and prolonged strikes.

The bulk purpose of the amendments is purely administrative – preventing employers from side-stepping new legislation without following due processes, she explained.

“For far too long millions of South Africans [have sat] on the margins of economic and social progress,” said Oliphant.

The disconnect between those at the top and those at the bottom must be addressed, and the wealth creators and disadvantaged in society should be brought together.

African National Congress MP and chairperson of the portfolio committee on labour Sharome Van Schalkwyk hit back at claims that the committee rushed the process of considering the amendments.

She added that the R20 per hour rate is a starting point, increasing the income of more than six million South Africans. The benefit of this move will have a wider reach as these workers often have to support their families.

She also criticised the call by the South African Federation of Trade Unions (Saftu) for a minimum wage of R12 500, calling it a “massive shock” to the economy.

“We must be realistic and not reckless in the process,” said Van Schalkwyk.

Democratic Alliance MP Michael Bagraim criticised the “undue and desperate haste” with which the bills ran through the portfolio committee.

He also raised concerns over the job losses that would follow. He noted that Saftu did not have a fair opportunity to make its submissions in the consultation processes.

Economic Freedom Fighters MP Thembinkosi Rawula also shared views that government should not exclude Saftu from making submissions.

Saftu is also against the national minimum wage of R20 per hour. It previously held marches across various cities in the country in a national strike in April, demanding a living wage.

The Congress of South African Trade Unions (Costau) meanwhile issued a statement on Tuesday welcoming the finalisation of the bills. It has called for Parliament to adopt them speedily so that the president can sign them into law.

Cosatu has said that even though a minimum wage is not a living wage, a living wage cannot be legislated. “In fact no country has legislated a living wage.

“That is something that unions and workers must campaign for. That is something that government must work towards. That is something that business must be compelled to do,” parliamentary coordinator Matthew Parks said.

Cosatu also hit out at Saftu for slamming the Labour Relations Amendment Bill. Saftu believes the bill will make it impossible for trade unions to organise protected strikes, even after attempts for a negotiated settlement reach deadlock, the federation claimed.

Cosatu said the bill does not collapse the right to strike.

Uniting labour

Saftu acting spokesperson Patrick Craven told Fin24 that it is unfortunate that Cosatu supports the labour bills, but the federation has requested to meet up with Cosatu to discuss issues of “common interest”.

These comprise poverty, inequality, unemployment, privatisation and the VAT hike. Saftu has not yet had a response from Cosatu on the matter.

Cosatu spokesperson Sizwe Pamla said that the congress is aware of the request and plans to meet with Saftu within the next two weeks, once secretary general Bheki Ntshalintshali is back in the country.

“We want to explore a situation to unite workers when it comes to policy questions.” He said it is important to look at what unites workers, rather than the issues that divide them.

Wellness at work is a increasingly dominant theme in any discussion about the workplace but for many it’s a broad buzzword without much science behind it.

But Linda Trim, director at Giant Leap, says that thanks to a new research project called Wellness Together carried out by Sapio Research and that included 1 000 respondents, it is clear that productivity, creativity and profitability can be affected by employee conditions.

“The survey provides evidence of strong correlations between people feeling good about their workplace and a positive outcome for business. To achieve true ‘wellness’ attention must be given to every component that can impact mental and physical health.

“This means building structures, company cultures and of course also furniture and fittings because all these factors fit together and are important to people and the businesses they work for.”

Trim notes that the survey evaluated 6 key attributes of wellness in the workplace:

1. Movement

Musculoskeletal problems, namely those related to the back, neck and upper limbs, account for the second biggest reason for absenteeism from the workplace – after colds. “High performing companies are more likely to have facilities that allow people to adjust their work station to best suit them. This can mean anything from the height of the desk to having the option to sit or stand while working. It is important to move around and change environments every so often. This helps prevent dips in concentration, and could help prevent back and neck problems.”

2. Lighting

Harsh or overly bright lighting is considered a far greater distraction for employees that low level or soft lighting. “Yet lighting systems that have the ability to change their colour tone as the day progresses are the least common features in an office,” Trim notes.

“Having glare control and variable lighting is found to be a strong characteristic of more profitable businesses. Human-centric lighting is a major benefit to the most successful organisations.”

Lighting that responsive to circadian rhythms is the next major trend expected in lighting technology.

3. Personal storage

The survey revealed that personal storage at work is a contentious issue. “Increasingly people are bring more things, and often more expensive things, to the workplace,” says Trim. “Gym gear, tech, and sometimes cycling gear all needs to be stored somewhere throughout the day. Banks of personal lockers are becoming a standard facility in big cities overseas and we expect that trend to catch on South Africa too.”

Trim added that the survey also showed that despite the trend towards hot desking, the majority of people in study (53%) stilled wanted their own desk. “But these days fewer people have their own desks. But giving all employees – whether permanent or mobile – individual storage, as well as providing office storage, will help them maintain a sense of control, belonging and a sense of well being.”

4. Noise and acoustics

Shrieking laughter, loud conversations and traffic are distracting. And being listened to on the phone is annoying.

“Providing quiet working spaces is one of the most important characteristics of companies that consider themselves to be innovative, creative or simply focused,” says Trim. “Quiet work spaces are one of the biggest differentiators between high and low performing companies according to the survey.”

But Trim also notes that is also important for businesses to offer areas where staff can talk openly and discuss ideas. “Having the choice is extremely important.”

5. Air quality

Not only is fresh air the single most successful way in mitigating dips in concentration, but the survey showed it to be one of the most differentiating factors of the most productive and innovative companies. “Good quality ventilation and air movement is therefor a vital characteristic of a healthy office,” says Trim.

6. Staff empowerment

“Companies can make their staff feel empowered in a host of ways and this can have significant outcomes for business,“ Trim notes.

“The act of consulting with staff, and letting them have a say on their environment, is a major differentiator between high and low performing companies. This suggests that consulting with employees on issues of importance will lead to greater profitability.”

Trim cautioned however that employees won’t necessarily choose the factors that are prevalent in profitable companies without guidance and awareness of the implications of different choices. The role of an expert guiding staff choice is therefore essential.

In today’s retail and shopping centre landscape, it is becoming increasingly difficult to compete for consumers’ attention, says Steven Burnstone, CEO and head of analytics for Eighty20 Consulting

Standing out and being attractive to consumers is not impossible-all it takes is an understanding of your customers.

Burnstone says that understanding one’s customer base is key. “The way businesses communicate to customers is one of the many areas that need to be focused upon. Businesses need to shift away from traditional, product-focused advertising models and focus on delivering advertising and promotional messages that are customer-focused and tailored to specific individuals.”

Burnstone shared invaluable insights at the eighth annual South African Council of Shopping Centres’ (SACSC) Research Conference on 9 May 2018.

South African customers are members of multiple programmes, receiving countless marketing messages across all channels. How can retailers set themselves apart and be heard in this competitive environment? Big data and artificial intelligence is enabling retailers to speak more accurately to customers and better understand what marketing strategies work best to drive feet in stores and grow customer satisfaction.

Customer behaviour changes achieved by promotional campaigns and loyalty programmes can be assessed.

“In highlighting the data required, methods used and the common problems encountered, we can uncover some of the nuances of customer behaviour change and what to look out for. We can look at some of the insights gained from these analyses and see how they can be used to systematically optimise these campaigns and programmes.

“These can improve the efficiency of marketing to customers, through personalised targeting of messaging and communication channel.”

By Ivan Israelstam, chief executive of Labour Law Management Consulting 

South African labour legislation gives employees a plethora of rights against the employer. So much so that many employers wonder whether the resultant burden on them makes it worth continuing to run the business.

For example, employees have, amongst others, the right to:

• Join trade unions
• Go on strike
• Procedural fairness at disciplinary hearings
• A fair reason for dismissal
• Protection form unfair demotions
• Be promoted under certain circumstances
• Minimum wages in many cases
• Sick leave, holiday leave, maternity leave and compassionate leave
• Overtime pay
• Consistent treatment
• Protection from unfair discrimination
• Representation at CCMA by a trade union representative

On the other hand, labour legislation gives employers few rights; and those that they do have are very restricted. That is, employers may exercise limited rights as long as, in doing so, they do not infringe the numerous rights given to employees.

However, one area that employers can exercise their rights is that of fiduciary duty. This means that the employee has, in certain ways, the duty to put the employer’s interests first. This does not mean that the employee must, as a way of benefiting the employer, forfeit his/her rights to leave, legal working hours or fair discipline. It does mean that the employee may not advantage himself/herself unfairly at the expense of the employer.

Specifically, this means that the employee may not:

• Place him/herself in a position where his/her interests conflict with those of the employer
• Make a secret profit at the expense of the employer
• Receive a bribe or commission from a third party
• Misuse the employer’s trade secrets
• Give a third party the employer’s confidential information.

While this principle applies generally to employees it applies more strongly to senior employees. In deciding on the extent of fiduciary duty that an employee has the courts consider a number of factors including:

• The degree of freedom that the employee has to exercise discretion in making and executing business decisions
• The opportunity for the employee to exercise this discretion in his/her own interests
• The extent to which the specific circumstances open the employer to abuse of the employee’s discretion
• The extent to which the employer relies on the employee for expertise and judgement in conducting the business
• The extent to which the employee is in a position of trust.

Clearly, the more junior the employee the less these fiduciary factors are likely to prevail. That is, with some exceptions, junior employees normally do not have the right or duty to make crucial business decisions or the opportunity to misuse decision-making power.

The line between who is a senior employee and who is not and the line between who is in a position of trust and who is not are blurred. Whether, for example, a junior salesperson is in a position of trust or not depends on the specific circumstances of each case. Therefore, in order to protect itself from employees acting against the employer’s interests every employer should:

• Build in checks and balances that prevent the abuse of power
• Inform all employees of their fiduciary duties in relation to their positions of trust
• Make sure employees at all levels know the seriousness of breach of their fiduciary duties
• Take swift, fair and consistent action against employees who breach their fiduciary duties
• Obtain expert legal advice before acting against suspects.

Co-working: the new normal

Co-working spaces, shared office spaces that are typically used by the self-employed or those working for various different companies, are soaring in popularity the world over.

“So much so,” said Linda Trim, Director at workplace design specialists Giant Leap, “that working in a co-working space is rapidly becoming the new normal even for those who have traditional 9 to 5 jobs.”

Trim noted than there are currently 14 411 co-working spaces around the world today making it fastest growing type of commercial property. Globally, shared workspaces have grown at an rapid rate of 200% over the past five years. In global cities like London, New York and Chicago they are expanding at an annual rate of 20%.

“Co-working places are rapidly becoming the workplace of choice. Globally they are expected to be close on 4-million people who will be members of a co-working office by 2020 and that number is expected to rise to over 5-million by 2022.”

Trim added that in South Africa the trend is not as developed as it is in countries like the US, but is quickly catching on. “In major business nodes like Sandton for example, co-working places are springing up all over. For instance FutureSpace is a high end co-working space that is as appealing as WeWork, the hugely successful American co-working company that has offices in 21 countries.”

Co-working became an attractive concept because when it first started to appear, it countered the negative views of the traditional office of drab interiors with tired people spending their lives in cubicles under harsh neon lights.

“If we look back to just a few years ago, co-working was considered to be a movement or a trend, with many believing it would fade. But now co-working is a full-blown industry that is disrupting the real estate industry and the way people work.

They known for offering environments that are conducive to innovation, collaboration, and productivity. These type of workplaces were pioneers in implementing a human approach to design, a trend which is catching up among real estate developers, landlords and of course companies.

“For now co-working is today’s normal.”

The extent to which co-working has gone mainstream is evidenced in the fact that large companies are increasingly seeking to enhance the workplace experience as a means to attract and retain talent, and that a significant percentage of workers who have the option to work from home or a coffee shop prefer to work from a co-working space.

Said Trim: “By 2020, we expect 50% of large companies to have some form of shared office space to offer their workers.”

She also noted that co-working spaces were having a very positive impact on people. 84% of people who use co-working spaces are more engaged and motivated while 89% who co-work report being happier.

“The co-working phenomenon has also spurred companies to make their existing offices much more people friendly and relaxed,“ Trim noted.

“On many of our briefs now we are told to design something that makes people feel they are in a relaxed environment somewhere between a coffee bar and their lounge at home.”

She added that the growth in co-working spaces will likely remain strong with a forecasted growth rate of 15% over the next 5 years.

By Tehillah Niselow for Fin24 

Thousands of workers are expected to take to the streets on Wednesday for a one day strike as the South African Federation of Trade Unions (Saftu) plans to make the country “ungovernable”.

The federation marched to parliament on April 12 and handed over a memorandum of demands but they say that the response did not address their concerns and workers will embark on nationwide action to put pressure on members of parliament to reject several labour bills making their way through parliament.

Saftu, led by dynamic general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi, was formed exactly one year ago.

Fin24 took a closer look at their plans for the general strike.

When: Wednesday 25 April 2018

How: Section 77 of the Labour Relations Act (LRA) allows workers to undertake protected strike action to promote their social and economic interests. Saftu’s application to the Section 77 Sub-Committee of the National Economic Development and Labour Council (Nedlac) was unsuccessful but three trade unions affiliated to Saftu; NUPSAW, ICTU and Salipswu made a similar Section 77 application to Nedlac and it was granted.

On Wednesday, all employees, regardless of whether they are Saftu members or non-unionised may join the strike under the ‘no work, no pay principle’.

Who: According to unaudited figures, Saftu has 800 000 members. The largest affiliate is the biggest trade union in SA, the National Union of Metalworkers (Numsa) with approximately 300 000 members, mostly in the manufacturing sector.

“We want everyone to join, in particular appealing to rank and file members [of other unions], many of them will be disgusted that their leaders voted for the [labour law] changes, without a mandate”, Saftu spokesperson Patrick Craven told Fin24.

Where: Saftu is expected to announce the nationwide routes at a press conference on Monday.

Why Saftu is taking to the streets

1. Labour law amendments

Parliament is currently considering amendments to the Labour Relations Act‚ the Basic Conditions of Employment Act‚ and the new National Minimum Wage Bill.

“Various amendments to labour laws will make it incredibly difficult to strike, it’s already quite difficult,” Craven said.

He said that the new labour bill making its way through parliament will include more rigorous requirements for pre-strike balloting and that this will be difficult for smaller unions with limited funds.

Craven added that the proposed amendments to the LRA will also allow for the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) to intervene in strikes deemed to be lengthy and/or violent.

2. Minimum wage

Saftu objects to the R20 an hour minimum wage agreement, which was set to be implemented on 1 May but has since been postponed due to lengthy parliamentary processes.

“We want a living wage, we haven’t set a specific figure [but] we were very impressed with Marikana Lonmin workers who wanted R12 500. R20 is an insult to their memory,” Craven said.

The Parliamentary portfolio committee on labour said on Friday it will refer the National Minimum Wage Bill back to the labour department to be redrafted so that it includes public input received by the committee.

3. Nedlac membership

Craven said that the nationwide marches on Wednesday “are linked to the campaign to be recognised by Nedlac”.

Saftu remains in the cold, outside of Nedlac, the forum which negotiated the minimum wage and the labour law amendments between the three other union federations, government, business and the community sector.

Requirements for Nedlac membership include audited membership figures and financial statements.

Saftu maintains it does not have these yet as the federation was only formed a year ago and the admissions procedures at Nedlac are too onerous.

Who will not be part of the general strike?

Cosatu – the Congress of South African Trade Unions spokesperson Sizwe Pamla said that while they agree with Saftu that the R20 per hour minimum wage is inadequate, it’s a starting point to improve workers’ lives and the figure is what the “South African economy could give us”.

Pamla added that the amendments to the LRA do not represent a dramatic change to the labour landscape as they were already provided for in the legislation, they just weren’t enforced.

At loggerheads since the formation of Saftu in April 2017, Pamla said that they have good working relations with the two other federations at Nedlac, Fedusa and Nactu and need to work with Saftu in the future.

Nactu – the National Council of Trade Unions general secretary Narius Moloto said that the federation believed that the minimum wage is “historic” as it will benefit 40% of workers, currently earning below R20 per hour.

With regard to amendments to the labour law, Moloto said they will not make embarking on strike action more difficult; “we don’t really understand what they’re protesting about”.

Fedusa (the Federation of Unions of South Africa) general secretary Dennis George said that the organisation won’t be joining the strike as the minimum wage was negotiated with government. He added that 4,5-million workers will be covered by the R20 per hour salary and this will be “a huge benefit to the country”.

Offices don’t just have an aesthetic impact on us: we are also influenced by how we sense sound, touch and smell at work.

“Together, the perception of all these senses help or hinder our ability to focus and concentrate. And this is particularly true of sound in the workplace,“ said Linda Trim, Director at workplace specialists Giant Leap.

“Everyone has had the unhappy experience of trying to get something important done when colleagues are making a lot of noise.

“Loud noise has definitely become one of the greatest irritants at work.

“Studies by architecture firm Perkins & Will showed how important workplace acoustics are to performance and satisfaction, and that good acoustic design equals good business.

“In 2016 it showed statistically significant changes in creativity scores associated with different acoustic conditions,” Trim notes.

Workers reported that they were more creative when office noise was masked “white” noise. A 2005 study on office noise and employee concentration by Banbury and Berry, showed that 99% of employees reported that their concentration was impaired by various types of office noise, especially telephones left ringing at vacant desks and people talking in the background.

“Interestingly researchers also found no evidence that people become used to these sounds over time. So people don’t just get accustomed to noisy offices, they are consistently bothered. And in extreme cases it can cause them to resign,” said Trim.

According to another study by Witterseh et al on the effects of noise distraction in the workplace, 68% of those surveyed become frustrated when sound levels creep just above normal conversation, and they also reported increased fatigue and difficulty in concentrating.

Says Trim: “Often the reason why background sound distracts us is because we try to work out which sound to focus on, and what sounds to ignore. If nearby speech is not relevant to your team or your work, it becomes even more distracting.”

To increase concentration and in the workplace, Trim said that companies should pay as much attention to acoustics in the office as they do aesthetics to create a productive workspace and keep employees happy.

“For example, introducing white noise in all areas will mask all conversations, so it needs to be applied strategically. Office spaces that have variety of individual, small group, and collegial areas can help the issue, especially when un-assigned seating is enforced so individuals can choose where they wanted to work according to their chaning attentional needs.”

Trim adds that increasing numbers of South Africa companies are also installing sound proof booths so people can make calls without disturbing others.

“Today there are many advanced, affordable products to be used in placing acoustics in the office such as light fittings, suspended ceilings, wall coverings and office furniture. Using materials that absorb sound is key. Carpeting, screens or walls covered in fabric, acoustical panels or drop ceilings with acoustical tiles can help neutralise sound issues,” Trim concludes.

Ideas are the new currency of modern economies and it is no more evident than in recent billion dollar idea success stories like Airbnb and Uber which are now disrupting established industries.

Richard Andrews, MD of Inspiration Office, says: “Increasingly companies are putting emphasis on new ideas to grow their business and stand apart from the competition.

“We live in an ideas age and business are recognising that fact and today’s offices must support the ‘cult’ of new ideas. And in comfort of course.”

These are the biggest office trends expected in South Africa in 2018:

Idea-centric offices

“Because ideas are so important to the new economy in 2018 so we expect to see more idea centric offices that enable creative thinking. Many people think creativity is just for creatives but it should facilitated and encouraged in all aspects the working life because it helps all areas of business,” Andrews noted.

“There is a misconception that creativity is a ‘light bulb’ moment but it’s not. Creativity is really a haphazard, tricky problem solving process that should allow people to work in groups but also alone. Offices should therefore create spaces where people can work in a creativity supporting way.

This year Andrews expects an even greater shift away from traditional ‘battery farm’ corporate workplaces to places that are more like creative studios – that means different kinds of workplaces that offer uninterrupted individual focus, developing ideas in a pair, generating solutions as a group, converging around ideas and allowing time for diffused thinking.

“These different options allow the mind to wander.”

Unconventional work area design

An extension of idea-centric offices is the unconventional work area design.

“These are not just for hipsters working at Google anymore. Unconventional work offices now offer meditation spaces, dressed-down conference rooms complete with sofas, bean bag chairs, vibrant colours, and lots of room for fun, stress busting activities like ping pong or foosball.”

Offices all over the world are adopting these new and unorthodox working and meeting spaces to attract young talent and make working spaces more fun and collaborative.

Home-style comforts

“We are receiving a growing number of requests to make South African offices more  relaxed and people friendly so people don’t feel they are sitting in a such a severe place,” Andrews adds.

Demand for homestyle comfort design is a sign that employers are listening to the desires of their employees and figuring out new, fun ways to get them to stay at work longer. This design trend is all about making offices feel more comfortable or homelike.

Dynamic spaces

Dynamic spaces is another big trend. They are typically defined by lightweight and moveable furniture with wheels, doors to open extra space, moveable green wall dividers and wipe boards or chalk boards. They are moveable, constantly fluctuating, engaging, and can transform from a space for company parties and activities to traditional conference rooms or meeting areas.

Said Andrews: “Dynamic spaces offer the opportunity for businesses to be a lot more creative with their space. Businesses are constantly changing and becoming more flexible, allowing colleagues and staff to try new things in innovative ways.”

Greenery & nature

More a long-standing design principle than a trend, this is not just about adding a few plants here and there around the office.

“This goes much further by integrating nature through the building in the form of textures, patterns, plants and natural lighting. Being close to nature and living plants instills a greater sense of calm in offices. While not new, we are seeing a strong increase in demand for green in the workplace,” Andrews concludes.

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