With more South African companies looking to meet employees’ expectations for a hybrid work environment, the physical office space stands to go through a significant reimagining. In fact, a global survey has found that nearly 8 in 10 CEOs say their organisations will need less space in the post-COVID world.
Like all business owners, David Seinker, CEO of flex space solution, The Business Exchange (TBE), knows the challenges of starting and growing a business all too well, not to mention navigating a pandemic that directly affects your industry.
We chat to Seinker about his business journey, lessons learnt and managing growth.
Q. What made you decide to start your own business, and why the office space business?
I worked at a property group before starting my own entrepreneurial journey. I was one of the first employees, but we grew the business to over 200 staff managing over a billion rand of property assets. I eventually broke away from the firm and I started my own company connecting entrepreneurs to my network of investors. Whilst doing so, I had an office at a business centre, and I saw a gap to continue doing what I did, together with providing office space for startups and growing companies.
Q. Tell us a bit about your startup journey, and did you get your first tenants on board?
I launched TBE in 2014, together with our funding partners Raizcorp, who have been instrumental in our growth. Our first tenants came through our networks which we leveraged given my background, but we also gained great traction through our strong digital advertising platforms.
Q. Can you share some of the hardest startup lessons you learnt?
Managing cash flow, expectations and people – these were my greatest challenges when starting out. However, these had nothing on what we experienced with frustrations relating to the Covid pandemic.
Q. What impact did Covid have?
For 2 years we were in limbo, and we were seriously concerned in 2020 as there were so many unknowns. However, we started gaining confidence last year as the new trend topic was “hybrid working”. 2022 has been our most successful year yet as we have signed up new sites, launched in Cape Town and Mauritius, and have three new major corporate clients totaling 200 seats.
Q. What’s your top tip for managing growth?
We are now approaching eight sites, and we will be scaling to 20 throughout the continent. You need great people and great partners to share your vision and help you grow. Processes are of paramount importance.
Q. What would be your top 3 pieces of advice to share with fellow entrepreneurs.
1. Partner with people and who have the same values as you do.
2. Don’t try grow too quickly, rather learn first.
3. Listen. Don’t think you know it all.
Q. What are your top growth goals for the next few years, and how are you planning to achieve them?
Our main goal is to have 20 sites by 2025, throughout Africa. There is a lot of focus on my management team to help achieve this, and processes in the business.
With more South African companies looking to meet employees’ expectations for a hybrid work environment, the physical office space stands to go through a significant reimagining. A global survey has found that nearly 8 in 10 CEOs say their organisations will need less space in the post-COVID world. Given how well-being, flexibility, and work-life balance have become top of mind for workers, businesses are turning to flexible office spaces that can more easily scale to their needs.
“The Business Exchange (TBE) model is designed with this customisability in mind. There has been a significant increase in demand for our sophisticated and spacious office locations as companies look to move away from a conventional model, preferring one where they can rent a tailored office environment and significantly reduce investment risk. Being able to tailor the office in more creative ways to improve employee productivity and mental health have become significant competitive advantages,” says David Seinker, CEO of The Business Exchange.
TBE tenants can attest to the importance of meeting in hybrid work requirements while offering a customised office space to drive business value.
Nerdware, a Full Service Digital Marketing Agency, has first-hand experience of how the landscape is evolving to put the spotlight on customer engagement across a variety of channels.
“We have added augmented and virtual reality solutions to our clients’ marketing strategies to increase their engagement, generate leads, and increase sales. Our focus remains on creating digital experiences to transform and boost brands. We have an in-house production studio which develops vodcasts, interactive social media content and online television series for clients to take control of their narratives and improve their brand sentiment,” says Shiko Mamotheti, Director of Strategy at Nerdware.
Furthermore, the company has built omni-channel marketing campaigns for clients that are developed using its proprietary artificial intelligence-powered solution.
“Clients immediately see the impact of these solutions on their businesses which is why, despite challenging market conditions, Nerdware has been able to create 25 new jobs over the past 12 months alone. Of these, 20 positions have gone to women from previously disadvantaged backgrounds who are now working in a male-dominated industry,” she says.
For Carel Martin, CEO of business-critical solutions provider Grand Communication Networks (Grandcom), the post-COVID world has created many opportunities for organisations around the world.
“Hybrid working arrangements have become mainstream and digital transformation is replacing traditional workflows. Companies must operate according to the premise that their customers may be working remotely and have limited access to solutions that may otherwise have been available in an office environment. Simple tasks such as printing, signing, and scanning documents are not always possible, resulting to inefficient two-way communications,” he says.
This has contributed to companies moving towards unified communications with their customers and empowering them with the power of paperless interactions through innovative solutions that include digital signing, mobile document uploads, and mobile on boarding.
“However, businesses who themselves have adopted hybrid working models now have to use technologies to monitor their own employees to ensure that production, communication, and security levels are maintained. To mitigate against the risk of people not meeting their objectives, we have seen a move to softphone technologies, virtual private networks, and online team meetings and chats. But this does mean that spontaneous, in person interactions in the workplace have suffered. The manager-employee relationship is critical to foster the employee experience and build a connection to the business and its culture,” says Martin.
He believes that COVID will have a lasting impact on the future of work. It is therefore key that executives evaluate how their physical office environments will likely change and the consequences this will have on them meeting their strategic objectives.
“Grandcom has been able to respond in various ways and are proud to have assisted many businesses adapt to new hybrid ways of working. Communication technologies are more important than ever. The hybrid generation of employees expect to be able to communicate where, when, and how they want to. Being able to integrate these communications across platforms such as email, SMS, chat, and VOIP will be critical for success. Through our networking, connectivity, and communications solutions, our clients have been able to allow their staff to enjoy hybrid working arrangements and further enable unified communications with their customers using our state of the art technologies to drive this digital transformation,” he says.
The human touch
Dirusha Ganapathy Juta, founder and managing director of a multiple award-winning Human Capital consultancy Beyond Transform, says the pandemic has brought about a great degree of change both at personal and professional levels for people that has impacted on the psychological, emotional, social, and financial areas of our lives.
“The need for rapid change and transformation to align new ways of working and fit-for-purpose HR models have become paramount in the face of an ever complex, fast changing, and uncertain world. With increased pressure on leadership and HR to manage in a dynamic environment, it requires an adaptable organisational and human mindset to navigate the transition from a more structured environment to a highly flexible one that embraces disruption as a catalyst to propel the organisation to a more fluid state,” she says.
As such, the work Beyond Transform is involved in, relates to building the economy and supporting organisations on several post-COVID interventions when it comes to the future of work and driving a high performance culture yet balanced working environment. These include understanding digital transformation and the Fourth Industrial Revolution and its impact on Human Capital. Furthermore, the organisation focuses on job creation with the creation of a bespoke employability readiness programme that simulates the work environment building key skills and capabilities required for workplace success.
“South Africa is no different to any other market that needs to find ways to bridge the gap between the traditional office and a new environment that better caters for hybrid work. TBE gives them the means to do so and helps to remove concerns around the physical environment freeing executives to focus on meeting the core objectives of the organisation,” concludes Seinker.
The COVID pandemic gave how we conduct business a complete overhaul as employees transformed from full-time office workers to remote, hybrid workers. The pandemic was also responsible for the rapid digital transformation that companies had to adjust to, as remote working became a reality for many employees during lockdown.
Interestingly, large companies and corporates, such as Microsoft, saw a significant increase in productivity during the first few months of lockdown. However, it seemed that this prolonged work model of working at home full time resulted in a negative state of mind that ultimately affected productivity and job satisfaction. It is for this reason that many companies are now embracing a hybrid work model.
What is a Hybrid Work Model?
The hybrid work model is a flexible work model that involves the blending of in-office and remote work. Team members can migrate between various locations depending on the type of work that they need to get done. Recent studies confirmed that 70% of people are working from home at least once a week and, according to Gartner, 48% of employees will likely work some of the time remotely post COVID-19 compared to before the pandemic.
Why is Hybrid Work Gaining Momentum?
Moving into a post-Covid working environment, a recent survey conducted by Loom, a video messaging platform, found that 90% of employees are happier with a hybrid working model rather than returning to the office full time.
Hybrid Work Benefits for Employees
Hybrid working is a people-first approach that manages the workforce to drive increased productivity and job satisfaction while addressing the major challenges of remote work, such as isolation and lack of community. Daily commuting has proven to be expensive and, in many cases, unnecessary for many employees who are happier and less stressed having this level of flexibility. The additional time saved in travel, costs and stressors have led employees to more balanced work lives with time to sleep, exercise, run errands or spend more quality time with their families. The ultimate benefit to employers has been an increased productivity rate from their employees, which is ultimately good for the business’s bottom line. In other words, employee well-being equates to greater efficiency.
Furthermore, this newfound freedom of hybrid working, results in a push from highly skilled employees who are actively seeking a more human-centred approach in their search for a work-life balance. The days of a salary being the only benefit on offer to employees are long gone, and companies will have to have to change their ideas about workspaces if they want to continue to attract skilled workers.
Coworking Benefits for Businesses
However, the hybrid work model also has significant benefits for companies. Coworking spaces are not only cost-effective but highly flexible too. This agility is linked to the flexible monthly rental of the commercial lease, which allows businesses to quickly and easily up or downscale their office size, depending on their current requirements. As an example, a company can save up to 70% of their total lease investment over five years with fully furnished office space. This includes the traditionally large rental deposits, fit-out and furnishing costs.
This “plug in and play” solution also drastically reduces the various payments to different service providers that a company would have to administer every month. This includes:
- Electricity, water, and rates
- Wi-Fi connectivity
- Telephones / PABX
- Reception services
- Cleaning, maintenance, and general consumables
- Generator equipment and maintenance
- IT support
Tenants also only pay for the space that they use or need. Meeting rooms and event facilities are hired as and when required. Another benefit for corporates in a serviced office space environment, such as The Business Exchange, is them now being able to have a specifically tailored, fully fitted, and furnished solution that suits them with the newly launched ‘Tailored By TBE’ offering.
Another major hinderance during lockdown included data breaches, with organisations such as the banking sector finding that many of their employees could not work from home securely. Coworking office spaces provide a highly secure IT environment that includes an experienced IT team. Loadshedding also continues to play a role in the decreased productivity of employees working from home, especially those who are not fortunate enough to have a backup power supply. A shared office space provider will always have a generator with sufficient capacity to keep its tenants’ businesses operational.
Businesses who want to remain relevant in this modern-day way of working cannot ignore the pace of this workplace transformation. Hybrid working is here to stay.
Listen to CEO of The Business Exchange, David Seinker, talk about our latest investment opportunity in Mauritius with the team from Radio 2000.
Click Play To Listen To This Podcast Below
For anyone looking to secure their financial future, investing in offshore markets is a key consideration to building a balanced and diversified portfolio. This can be a rather daunting thought due to the number of international investments currently available, but the Business Exchange (TBE), in partnership with Maxcity Properties, the largest and most established property company in Mauritius, recently launched an exciting opportunity, offering investors a unique chance to own offshore property in Mauritius, a Dollar-based country.
At a very accessible price point, 117 sectional title serviced office space units are for sale from $36 500 each: “This is the ideal opportunity for investors seeking an affordable yet safe way to invest offshore, in an asset class operated and managed by a trusted and experienced South African company,” says David Seinker, founder and CEO of The Business Exchange.
All units will form part of a rental pool lease agreement, and investors will receive Net Rentals paid in US Dollars, the sum being dependent on the size of the property they own (calculated according to square meterage). With occupancy forecasted to reach up to 80%, buyers can expect net returns before tax on their investments of up to 10% from as early as year 2, with projected property appreciation of 30% over seven years.
After being incorporated in 2014, TBE has grown to six locations across South Africa and Mauritius, with further expansion plans for the rest of the continent. TBE successfully launched its first international location in Mauritius in 2019, with the site proving a resounding success. The building quickly became one of TBE’s top-performing locations after achieving full occupancy in record time.
Mauritius is increasingly being recognised as one of the foremost investment destinations on the African continent, presenting a sound environment both politically and economically. Major international brands, including Samsung, Broll, Expedia and NBA, have already based themselves at TBE in Mauritius in a serviced office environment.
“With this offering, TBE is targeting investors seeking to purchase property in a unique, high-growth asset class. Furthermore, it offers a hedge against the Rand in a location set to see stable and predictable growth in the near future,” he adds.
Offshore investment, especially in a Dollar-based country can provide a buffer against weaker currencies, such as the Rand, as well as both inflation and exchange rate fluctuations, increasing the potential to earn stable returns under varying conditions.
The Business Exchange has always been more than merely a provider of office space to rent for its tenants. Under the leadership of its energetic and passionate CEO, David Seinker, this enterprising company adds value to tenants’ businesses by enabling them to succeed and grow through several innovative initiatives.
As a provider of fully-furnished and serviced office space in Sandton, Rosebank and Mauritius, The Business Exchange has been garnering a tremendous response from not only small companies but also larger growth-stage companies. These proactive companies sign up at The Business Exchange’s impressive and centrally located addresses to take advantage of the range of unique rental and service offerings from The Business Exchange.
The Business Exchange offers its tenants exciting benefits not usually found in traditional office leases.
Shared Media and Online Marketing Activities
All tenants have access to a dedicated TBE App, which offers tenants an opportunity to advertise their company and its products or services for free. This results in increased exposure to the vast network of tenants who are also on the App. The Business Exchange uses its various social media platforms, blogs and newsletters to highlight its valued tenants to thousands of highly influential business networks, including private investors and corporate executives. From time to time, tenants may also be invited to appear on The Big Small Business Show, a live television broadcast, to showcase their companies.
Access to Dedicated On-Site Events Space
The Business Exchange offers its tenants beautifully-designed, fully-equipped and spacious meeting rooms, as well as dedicated eventing space, where tenants can hold their seminars, product launches, conferences, business networking events, and the like.
An Enabling Workspace That Encourages Productivity
This dynamic provider of flexible office space solutions has worked closely with some of the top interior designers in South Africa to provide tenants with the fully-serviced workspace they need to flourish.
All The Business Exchange locations have secure parking, meeting rooms, events space, bathrooms, printers and on-site coffee shops. The well-thought-out facilities and amenities are easily accessible from each office to make office life simple and convenient.
The Business Exchange also offers the flexibility of bespoke fit-outs for its tenants to modify their office layout according to their specific workspace requirements.
Success Stories Of Two The Business Exchange Tenants
We are pleased to introduce two of TBE’s successful tenants, Veza Properties and Mafadi Property Management, who are renting new bespoke and professional office space in Morningside, at 150 Rivonia Road.
Veza Properties, who recently tripled their office space requirement at The Business Exchange, is headed up by Neil Eliason, a property specialist with over a decade of residential property sales and management experience. He is supported by an expert team of skilled and knowledgeable sales agents, brokers and administrative staff. Together, they guide potential homeowners and investors seamlessly through their purchase, providing a keen understanding of the residential property sale process, tax optimisation structures, funding application processes and financial support.
Mafadi Property Management, established in 2012, has over 11,000 apartments on its books and provides a hands-on property management solution for investors. It prides itself in providing a personal service to each client, carefully gathering a complete understanding of their exact requirements to maximise their investment income. They also seek to add value to cities all over South Africa by managing sustainable living and working spaces.
Veza Properties have recently partnered with Mafadi Property Management to form one of the largest affordable property management groups in South Africa.
These are just some of the success stories of two tenants attributed to the unique benefits offered by The Business Exchange. If you would like to become part of this thriving professional community, make contact with The Business Exchange and ask to speak to one of their Sales Executives. They will arrange a private viewing and advise you on a suitable office space solution for your company.
Back to work… back to reality? We want to hear your thoughts on going back to work – or not.
It’ll take just 3 minutes to complete our Back to Work survey. In return, we have the following great prizes up for grabs:
– A full-day free access pass to the meeting or events spaces, at any of TBE’s locations, valued at R20 000
– 3 Black Membership cards valid for 6 months, valued at R8 500. These offer coworking access at any TBE location
Let us know how your company has coped with going back to the office.
TBE is getting in on the action, and as part of the build-up to corporate South Africa’s Black Friday promotions, it is offering an exciting referral programme for the entire month of November!
For every qualified lead that you refer to TBE, you will be rewarded with one full day’s FREE use of a meeting room or events space at any of TBE’s upmarket locations in South Africa or Mauritius. (T’s & C’s Apply).
Corporate Office Trends Of The Future
David Seinker recently spoke with Allon Raiz on the Big Small Business Show where they addressed the question, “Are the days of working in a big office over?” The discussion centred around how corporates and larger companies are investigating different ways of working in light of the recent pandemic.
During this discussion, David and Allon deliberated on the current economic climate and unpacked the latest trends and predictions of the future of corporate office space. This conversation also delved into the exponential uptake in corporate demand, both locally and from abroad, for flexible, cost-effective, serviced office space.
A New Hybrid Way of Working
“Businesses in search of office space for 50 or fewer people, need to rent flexible workspaces rather than traditional offices, as they can save up to 70% of their total lease investment,” says David Seinker, CEO of The Business Exchange. “We have seen a significant increase in the demand for our sophisticated and spacious locations, as companies are increasingly de-risking, cutting costs and adopting hybrid work solutions.”
Read more about the innovative approaches that businesses are now taking.
New TBE Properties Coming Soon
We are passionate about bringing sophisticated office space to people who are serious about doing business. Keep an eye out for our new properties coming soon:
Melrose Arch, Johannesburg
Foreshore, Cape Town
Grand Baie and Cybercity in Mauritius