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.