The Covid-19 pandemic has changed how we work in South Africa, and the shift to hybrid working is demanding change in workspaces across the country. As hybrid workspaces become the norm, it is vital for landlords to optimise workplaces to accommodate the modern workforce and drive productivity.
Calvin Venkates, CEO of construction company Posch Group, says hybrid working has become so mainstream that Labour Minister Thulas Nxesi earlier month announced that the government was now looking at how to regulate the new environment to protect workers.
According to South African employees surveyed in a global survey by McKinsey in October last year, 86% felt hybrid and remote working had improved all aspects of their well-being, with that number above the global average of 78%. Just over 60% also reported that this type of arrangement had saved them at least four hours per week, while 27% said working from home had saved them eight or more hours per week.
“With more employees demanding work-from-home flexibility, companies need to optimise their office spaces to accommodate hybrid staff while maintaining productivity and employee well-being. It’s more important than ever to create the ideal space for your hybrid staff.”
For commercial and industrial landlords and facilities managers in South Africa, Venkates shares five things to keep in mind when creating the ideal space for your staff:
Flexibility is key
Hybrid working means that employees can work from the office or home, so it’s essential to create a space that is flexible and adaptable to their needs. This means having a mix of different workstations, including desks, meeting rooms, and quiet areas. Ensure your office has good Wi-Fi and employees can easily connect to the internet from anywhere in the space.
Prioritise employee well-being
Hybrid working can have both positive and negative impacts on employee well-being. Make sure your office space is designed to support a healthy work-life balance and that there are opportunities for employees to take breaks and relax throughout the day. Consider adding a gym or meditation room to your office space or even offering wellness classes or activities.
Digital technology is at the heart of hybrid working, so it’s essential to ensure your office is equipped with the latest tech tools and software. This means having video conferencing capabilities, cloud storage, and collaboration software that allows employees to work together seamlessly, regardless of their location.
Foster collaboration and team building
One of the challenges of hybrid working is that employees can feel isolated or disconnected from their colleagues. To combat this feeling of isolation, it’s important to create opportunities for collaboration and team building. This might mean organising regular team meetings or social events or creating shared spaces where employees can work together on projects.
Make the most of your office space
With more employees working from home, your office will likely have a lower occupancy rate. This presents an opportunity to rethink your office space and make the most of the available square metres. Consider converting unused areas into breakout spaces or collaboration zones or even subletting some of the space to other businesses or individuals.
Consider the environment
Property managers should consider the importance of sustainability in their hybrid workspaces. By incorporating sustainable materials and energy-efficient technology, property managers can reduce their carbon footprint while also saving money on energy costs.
According to Venkates, the implementation of hybrid working has commenced in South Africa, and as a result, work environments need to adjust and accommodate this trend.
He says, “Optimising a hybrid workspace is critical for property managers to remain competitive and open to future growth opportunities. By prioritising cost-effectiveness, functionality, aesthetics, technology, and sustainability, property managers can create a workspace that meets the needs of modern businesses and their employees.”