We are a resilient nation with a leader who has taken the necessary and urgent steps to help safeguard our lives and our businesses. As South Africans, we understand what it takes to operate under difficult economic conditions, but we will fight this new battle and overcome all the obstacles we face in very the near future.
The Business Exchange TBE is helping combat this threat by instituting internal policies and procedures for all TBE staff and tenants. Here is an overview of what we are doing and how we can assist businesses in this time of need.
There is currently significant panic across the world thanks to the rapid spread of COVID-19, known more commonly as coronavirus.
As many countries take drastic steps in an attempt to reduce the impact, a number of companies have also put an array of meaningful practices in place to help employees stay ahead of the virus, avoid infection and to prevent contamination of the work space.
While there is a case to be made for working remotely, combined with self-isolation for anyone who feels ill, many companies are concerned that members of their team who work from home will struggle without access to all the resources necessary for them to optimally do their jobs. In addition, some industries just don’t lend themselves to remote working. Perhaps then, the solution is to separate the workforce and distribute them among coworking spaces.
Allow me to be clear that I take the health and wellness of The Business Exchange’s (TBE) tenants very seriously. There have been over 150 000 cases worldwide, and we are doing everything we can to ensure that our coworking spaces are clean, sanitised and that tenants are equipped with all the necessary information to keep themselves safe. Our offices are cellular and not open-plan, so the spaces also allow for isolated working where necessary.
During this time, coworking spaces are available to employers who want to separate their teams and minimise the risk of the spread of any virus among members. The majority of coworking spaces are closed offices dedicated to separate companies and work teams so there is a lower risk of cross-infection.
At TBE we have distributed, and will continue to circulate emails and notices detailing hygiene and other tips. Below are some of the things that we have implemented at TBE (that can also be used in other spaces as well as in the home):
1. There are hand sanitizer machines at all entrances as well as other access points within our office spaces that everyone can make use of when entering the offices and during the day when required.
2. Additional regular cleaning of all communal areas is being carried out, while we advise anyone with private offices to take extra care and precautions.
3. If someone is identified as being ill, they will be asked to seek medical assistance.
4. Those who have returned to South Africa since 1 March 2020 are asked to self-isolate for 14 days.
There are also a number of precautions that everyone can take. This is based on the advice of the World Health Organisation (WHO):
1. Wash your hands regularly with soap and water.
2. Maintain social distancing at least 1 metre (3 feet) from anyone who is coughing or sneezing.
3. Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth if you have not washed your hands.
4. Practise respiratory hygiene, use your hands as cover if you sneeze or cough.
5. If you have a fever, cough or difficulty breathing seek medical care.
6. Take extra precautions if you have any underlying health issues.
As a final piece of advice, continue to monitor the situation and make decisions upon the advice of the NICD and WHO). It is my hope that the virus will be under control sooner, rather than later.
David Seinker is the Founder and Chief Executive of The Business Exchange
We’re incredibly excited to announce that we are adding another location to the TBE family! The new TBE office space at 140 West Street, Sandton will launch 1 April 2020. Thinking of taking the next step for your business and want a modern office space with incredible city views? Look no further!
BY: David Seinker.
Much is being written about the rise and potential demise of international co-working space company WeWork but there is light on its horizon, and the industry would welcome it, believes David Seinker, CEO of The Business Exchange.
So, what went wrong at WeWork? There has been much speculation in the media, from the sudden fall of its nearly US$50bn initial IPO valuation to US$10bn, and corporate governance concerns surrounding the business and lifestyles of its then CEO, Adam Neumann. But what really went wrong is that it didn’t stick to its proverbial knitting. A common business mistake which can take down even the largest of giants.
It definitely wasn’t the company’s business model – providing serviced offices – that took it down. We do that here at The Business Exchange and multinational corporation Regus has been offering the same since it launched in Belgium in 1989. Together with a number of other international brands under the same holding company, Regus is now part of a network of 3 300 workspaces, employing 10 000 people who service another 2.5 million people in over 1 000 cities across more than 110 countries. The model can clearlywork.
The fundamental problem with WeWork is that the company’s top executive team had a plan to see themselves not as a property services business, but instead as a technology business and, by positioning themselves in this way, they began raising huge money from investors at ever-increasing valuations. Valuations based on around 25 times the company’s actual revenue. Investors rejected this, much like they did with true technology businesses, the likes of Uber, which has fallen by 30% since listing.
The company believed it could position itself as a technology business because it housed a lot of tech tenants, as well as the fact that it was developing software to “better understand densities” in its workspaces, and “understanding where people wanted to spend time”. The founders had a plan for tech company-type growth and, ultimately, they would have to list to sustain the growth. But the market rejected their valuation, which saw this plan collapse in the end. It’s why, when you read about the company cutting staff, it’s the product managers, engineers and data scientists that now stand to lose their jobs.
Plus, WeWork expanded phenomenally fast. Having gone through massive growth about three years ago, offices popped up around the globe with the company also looking to expand here in SA at the rate of knots. As it is, the company is already the largest office occupier in New York, and the second largest office space occupier in London.
With former CEO Adam Neumann now having stepped down, and two astute new co-CEOS in Artie Minson (once a senior executive at Time Warner and AOL) and Sebastian Gunningham (who ran Amazon’s marketplace business for more than a decade), the company may well get its house in order. Financial press across the globe agree that the company’s very public IPO may now only be postponed until next year, rather than shelved completely. At a far more realistic valuation, of course.
And it’s good news for the industry, should the company survive. Not because of the damage that its folding could do – as I’ve said, the business model is a strong one – but because of the one very good thing it did for the marketplace: it educated it and put co-working spaces on the map, particularly in the corporate world. WeWork did a huge amount of marketing around the concept that it’s far more economical for corporates of up to 100 staff to be accommodated in a more flexible work space – companies can save up to 70% of their lease investment if choosing a flexible office space.
The same applies in South Africa. These days, if a company is looking for anywhere to acquire and fill between 300 to 400m2 of space, they’re in for around R3 million before they blink, even with a contribution from the landlord. Add to this end, the fact remains that there are also new accounting regulations that now require businesses that sign long leases to disclose those leases as liabilities on their balance sheets. This could negatively impact a company’s credit profile, which will concern investors and partners.
To illustrate the power of co-working spaces done right, at The Business Exchange we’ve just welcomed Expedia, with a staff of 40 into our Rosebank building, and in the past month alone we’ve had around 10 large corporates – between 30 and 50 people – making enquiries for space.
The shift towards co-working isn’t coming; it’s already here. It’s been around for some 30 years already, and it’s definitely the future, from single-desk entrepreneurs to corporate clients, but it’s how the business operates and the growth plan that will make or break it. I personally spent five years better understanding the market and what The Business Exchange’s clients really want. As a result, we now understand the landscape, our competitors, what makes our offering stand out from the rest, and how pricing and deals with landlords need to be structured in order to create a sustainable, scalable and profitable business.
WeWork focused on revenue and ridiculous growth, like all other tech start-ups do, and, as we can see, that plan failed. There is a lesson to be learnt here for all startups. Deliver value at a profitable price, and focus on fundamentally sound business goals that drive these key metrics – anything else is just not good business.
About the author: From a career at a property group managing a large portfolio of assets, David Seinker established the co-working space company, The Business Exchange, in 2015, which today has four properties in Johannesburg, one in Mauritius, and four on the way across other African cities.
August 2019 – He is young and friendly, but David Seinker is, without a doubt, a young entrepreneur whose ideas are simple yet ambitious and who has already tasted real success through his company, The Business Exchange (TBE), which creates high-end and prestigious workspaces accessible to other young entrepreneurs.
Originally from Durban, Seinker, began his professional life in Johannesburg, where he was first employed to manage a new real estate development company. “I was the first employee hired by this company,” he remembers. “I was in charge of the daily management of the company and its future development. In our seventh year, we had over 200 people working for us.”
This young manager then felt the need to start his own business. He used his existing network of business contacts to find some investors, and with their help, managed to start his own business. “I wanted to offer entrepreneurs a workspace inspired by luxury hotels,” explained Seinker.
His approach is based on a simple, but innovative principle; a start-up must be fully orientated towards efficiency from the start. They cannot afford to waste time and energy on searching for offices, hiring a receptionist, cleaning company, maintenance and security teams, etc. This is the main reason why so many of these young entrepreneurs start their business in a garage or a home-based office.
However, these home environments eventually become insufficient and can even harm the professional reputation of the business.
4 Business Centres in South Africa
Initially Seinker established his first luxurious, all-inclusive office workspace in Johannesburg. The concept was a huge success – not only with start-ups, but also with other more established companies such as Expedia and Standard Bank.
It therefore came as no surprise that TBE opened another three workspaces in quick succession in and around Johannesburg. “I was very quickly convinced that the success we experienced in South Africa indicated that this type of model would work in other African countries on the continent” explained Seinker.
Quick-Start, Luxury Business Centre In Mauritius
He began investigating this prospect and finally settled on opening his first business centre outside of South Africa in Mauritius. “Many South African citizens are already based in Mauritius, so it was easy to translate the business model from South Africa to Mauritius. Its pleasant climate and transparent financial and taxation systems make it the ideal country of choice for establishing a company outside of South Africa.
Given these reasons, TBE Mauritius stands a chance of quickly becoming a popular business centre for dynamic and innovative companies.
TBE also intends to spread its footprint into Kenya and Zimbabwe, once the political and economic situation stabilises.
Contact TBE Mauritius
CEO of The Business Exchange, David Seinker was quoted in this Disruption in the Coworking Space article in the Top 500 publication (a publication which discusses South Africa’s best managed companies), in which he mentioned that the concept of coworking space is starting to make a great deal of sense to big business.
This article talks about how the number of co-working spaces across the globe has doubled each year, and how the workspace model is now disrupting traditional office space rentals.
Watch the highlights of The Business Exchange’s 2018 year-end event held for our TBE members at TBE Morningside Offices
Meet Marjorie Ndesi, GM at The Business Exchange. Take a look into her career path and journey whilst growing from employee no 1 to General Manager during her time at TBE.