What time do you power down your laptop at night? Look at the plug next to your bed. How many devices are plugged in there? Your answers to these questions have probably revealed you’re at the office more than you’re actually in it, tucking into some bite-sized admin with breakfast at the corner café or catching a quick IM meeting from the back seat of an Uber. Your staff are no doubt doing the same. So, how do you restore work-life balance to encourage happy, healthy and motivated employees when everyone’s overflowing inbox is tagging along home with them? Make them feel at home with a lifestyle-focused work environment.
At the moment, a fundamental shift away from hierarchically designed offices, toward more inclusive, collaborative spaces, is taking place. One major reason for this is the growing platoon of Millennials in the modern workforce. These super-social and adept multi-taskers like open plan coffee-shop style environments, tech bedecked meeting hubs, acoustic pods, and even working from treadmills or barber shop chairs is not an unusual request these days. As a result, more and more companies are starting to mimic the trendy offices of the Googles and Facebooks of the world. But what if that doesn’t align with your brand… and your older staff just can’t comprehend the idea of morning meetings in an indoor treehouse?
Embracing lifestyle-focused work spaces doesn’t mean your office needs to look like a children’s playground. It’s simply about making the office more flexible to your employee and business needs. That means the first step to an ideal workspace is to understand your company requirements, culture and staff. Traders are bound to their workstations, attorneys require privacy, creatives like space to throw ideas around in, and so all the lifestyle-focused workspaces for these kinds of employees will need to be different to efficiently support the way in which they operate. However, there are a few minor changes that we’ve noticed can help to streamline any and every office, improving efficiency while giving it a homey air.
Comfortable soft seating hubs, intimate task lighting, quiet areas, private spaces, warm colour palettes, and the smell of brewing coffee are just a few minor tweaks that make most staff feel at home in the office. But another major stand-out benefit and consideration of lifestyle-focused work spaces is scalability. Lifestyle focused spaces allow for expansion without the costs of a new workstation for each new staff member. Instead, employees may move around an environment, without desk ownership, working from a pod or quiet room, canteen or bar-height collaboration table.
A lifestyle focused workspace that looks and feels more welcoming and comfortable will put your staff at ease, make their work-lives more meaningful and encourage them to invest more passion and drive into a company that is investing in their in-office experience and overall work-life balance. After all, home is where the heart is. Start your journey to a more lifestyle-focused workspace today and get more heart from your staff, as well as a responsive and agile office that changes and grows around you, instead of the other way around.
By Robyn Gray, Associate Director for Tétris South Africa
Investec Property and workplace specialists Giant Leap have launched FutureSpace – a first of its kind, high-end office on demand at 61 Katherine Street in the heart of Sandton, Johannesburg.
Linda Trim, director at Giant Leap, says the new 2 000 square metre office could be thought of a mix between “a five star business class lounge and on-demand, sharing economy services like Uber and Airbnb.
“FutureSpace is fully fledged office with absolutely everything a business requires from high speed fibre WiFi, concierge and support staff to meeting rooms, video conferencing, a gym in the building and 24 hour electronic security. And of course barista coffee and food.”
Trim noted that the shift in social attitudes from “ownership to access” and the growing sharing economy was now beginning to impact the global perspective of the workplace and FutureSpace was in direct response to this.
Robin Magid, executive director of Investec Property, says that the FutureSpace office in Sandton was an “office of the future”.
“We plan to role out many more offices in the business centres in South Africa – as well as creating an international presence starting in London. All will be in high end locations and close to good transport links.
“The FutureSpace competitive advantage is the synergy of our core property locations and the design expertise of Giant Leap. No one else offers that.”
FutureSpace offers a luxury hotel type of experience that offers restaurants and hotel bookings, luggage storage services and advice on the local area.
“With no leasing commitments and only paying for what you use, FutureSpace offers entrepreneurs, start ups, freelancers and even existing businesses easy access to fully equipped established offices. It is also appealing to multinationals that can quickly establish an office in SA,” says Trim.
Trim says that a local start up tech company and an international company taking its first steps into South Africa had already rented space.
Trim added: ”It can take months to find suitable offices space and just as long again to install IT services, furniture and interior design. With FutureSpace you simply book and pay for your office online – or simply walk in – and you can start working straight away. The front desk will be expecting you.”
Instant bookings can be made online through an online portal. It will also allow clients to book and pay for all extra services they need.
The FutureSpace offices are designed to meet different office needs with monthly pricing ranging from R3 500 to R25 000.
There are executive office spaces designed for longer term leases, a monthly membership that can be purchased for the visitor area for drop in visitors as well as co-working spaces that are specially tailored to entrepreneurs and those who need to work closely together.
All users of FutureSpace can also gain access to hi-tech boardrooms, training rooms and lounges.
The offices are equipped with ergonomically designed furniture including award winning seating. Any furniture can also be changed to the users’ exact preferences.
Businesses can also just hire meeting facilities only for the likes of strategic meetings and brainstorming sessions.
More details and bookings are available at www.futurespaceoffice.co.za.
What is a millennial? Commonly defined as a person who was born between 1980 and 2000, the term “millennial” is at its heart a generational marker. There is another side to it, though, one where the phrase broadly encompasses a mark of behaviour. At least it has become common place to identify certain behavioural traits when referring to millennials.
Unfortunately, not all characteristics associated with this generation are perceived in a positive light. Described aptly by Chelsea Krost, 24, co-founder of MPulse a Millennial-focused marketing agency from Forbes article “Is Millennial a dirty word?” written by Samantha Sharf, the word millennial has previously perceived connotations:
“To set the record straight the word Millennial is NOT a dirty word. Unfortunately, the Millennial Generation has been labelled with stereotypes like lazy, entitled, and narcissistic, which has created confusion and frustration amongst many Millennials and generations prior. This generation is often misunderstood and the ‘Millennial Hustlers’ of today don’t always get the recognition or credibility they deserve because we tend to fixate more on the negative than the positive about this demographic of people. Millennials are a generation unlike any before and we are pioneering new methods in the workplace, technology and ways of communicating that will have a great impact on our near future. It is crazy to me to think that we can define 80 million people with three negative stereotypes. Instead, I believe many Millennials are entrepreneurial, innovative, liberal and charitable.”
However, there is a common thread that is definitely associated with this generation and that is that they are redefining the workspace. Millennials are no longer happy with the typical nine-to-five day. To many it is regarded as an outdated notion, and that the best delivery of services no longer come from working in your typical office space environment. Instead, flexibility, the room to grow and engage with others in the workspace and the use of technology slowly become the prime factors when deciding where to work and who to work for.
Responding to a US survey by Steelcase, when asked to select two words to describe their ideal workplace, millennials chose “Active” (62%) and “Flexible” (54%), while Gen-Xers chose: “Fun” (56%) and “Creative”, and baby boomers selected: “Spacious/Inspiring (57%) and “Active” (53%). Peter Townshend, Managing Director of workspace researchers, Know More, says that the situation is very much the same in South Africa: “The call for flexible, active workspaces is high,” he explains. “Yes, this call comes mostly from millennials, though we are seeing all age sectors desiring, especially, more flexible workspaces that provide them with specific areas to do specific tasks. Millennial are tech-savvy, innovative and motivated and their way of working is person-centred, not place specific and because of this, we need to rethink how we see workspaces that enhance productivity. Giving a millennial a desk is the worst thing you can do – they want to sit with their entire team in highly collaborative areas, and be able to come and go as they please … especially when they need to concentrate and focus. From all the observations that we have made on South African millennials when it comes to designing workspaces to enhance their work styles, one word comes to mind: choice. Give them choices and watch them grow – Peter Townshend, Managing Director, Know More.
It is worth keeping in mind that you aren’t only building a workspace that represents the brand, but also a space for the people who work there. Companies, such as Giant Leap, know that when it comes to the office, not everyone prefers the typical desk and chair set-up, but rather open workspaces which allow for collaboration and retreat rooms for quiet time.
Integrating technology into the workspace is important. With the millennial generation being constantly online, and using technology both as a medium to increase productivity and enhance one’s skill set, it’s no longer a surprise that the working environment should be technological friendly.
This means creating integrated technological workspaces. Rooms where one can comfortably have a skype call. Office spaces that make sure connectivity is possible and that you don’t necessarily have to be at one specific station or desk to achieve this connectivity.
Giant Leap takes all of this into consideration when planning and creating a workspace. It’s no longer just about the architecture, the colour schemes, the beautifully crafted furniture or the eco-friendly materials but it’s also about the people. The roles they take on, the preferred environment, the way they engage with the space and ultimately how all of this can be used to enhance productivity.
According to Giant Leap workspace specialists director, Linda Trim, in order to attract the best and brightest talent to your company, it is critical to pay attention to the workspace you provide.
This year, for the fourth year running, Google was named as the best company to work for by Fortune magazine. A significant reason for this is the environment that Google creates for their staff.