BY ANTONY MUTUNGA
COVID-19 pandemic has caused a major disruption and it is now evident that a number of these changes are here to stay. The pandemic has, for instance, greatly changed the norm in terms of work.
Organizations have been forced to adopt new ways of working. Since the lockdowns started being imposed around the world, many organizations had to look to remote work and hybrid work models as ways of cutting costs and continuing production.
Workstyle Africa has been one of the solutions to this challenge. The flexible and co-working space provider, which was founded by Ronald Nyairo and Federico Von Bary, was launched three years ago when office space needed much CAPEX investment and commitment. Today, they are a fast-growing workspace provider with two operational locations at the Address building and Pramukh Tower, both in Nairobi. The firm offers private rooms, boardrooms, meeting rooms, dedicated desks as well as Flexi desks.
According to Federico Von Bary, the company’s objective has been to offer flexible office solutions that are fully furnished and serviced with several high-end amenities. However, what truly differentiates them has been that they offer high-quality space integrated with technology for relatively affordable prices.
Before the COVID-19 pandemic, the work environment was already shifting, as demand for flexible co-working spaces was high as businesses moved away from renting and leasing out spaces. However, once the pandemic hit, this changed as most businesses focussed on remote working or closed down altogether. Due to challenges such as internet interruptions, low collaboration, and lack of supervision, many organizations couldn’t rely on their employees working from home in the long run, thus some came up with work schedules whereby employees came to the office in shifts.
Despite many organizations looking to such hybrid solutions due to their flexibility, one challenge remained, that the model would be costly and wasteful in the long run, if employees only used their leased offices for some of the time. This is where Workstyle Africa came in and was able to turn the dilemma caused by the pandemic into an opportunity to expand. The workspace provider positioned themselves as the best solution to the challenge.
“Everyone is going through a difficult time now, but if you look at the future of office space, we are aligned with where the market is heading. This is because a lot of cost-cuts are expected and thus businesses will look to a hybrid-working environment, where people don’t have to be in the office from the usual eight to five every day. Henceforth, we are a perfect solution for either new businesses looking to be cost-effective or existing businesses that look to downscale,” said Mr Bary.
The norm in terms of the work environment has been greatly changed, the pandemic has made everyone aware of their surroundings. Not only are people trying to observe social distancing but also they will be more inclined to use technology as compared to before. To deal with this, the firm has ensured that it has a lot of space and it adheres to social distancing despite the type of space a client needs.
In fact, according to Bary, in the post-pandemic, one of the things that will matter most to clients is the quality of the building, the design, the allocation of the common area, the services, and amenities. Clients will be hoping that providers can offer segments such as lounges for social events and hangouts, workshops, social media, and career-oriented meetings, and coffee. All this has become important, as the organization that will rely on these spaces will look out for the well being of their employees. Henceforth, apart from concentrating on workstations, the provider has also ensured that they have included places for employees to disconnect and relax as well as ensure that these spaces are well disinfected.
Digital transformation has become essential ever since the pandemic hit as a majority around the world depended on it, as they were isolated. Moving forward, it is evident that the reliance on technology will not be decreasing post-pandemic. Thus, for businesses to survive in this period, digital technology will be a must. This is exactly why the office provider has also focused on incorporating technology to enhance the client’s experience. If anything, the current pandemic has shed the light on the importance of being online. Moving forward, almost all transactions will take place online. Thus, to have this covered, Workstyle Africa has ensured that its spaces are well equipped with a strong WI-FI for easy communication and high usage, projectors for video conferencing, and work management tools.
The pandemic has also made clear the importance of mobile technology, as all over the world the number of mobile users has gone up once again, reaching 5.22 billion mobile users according to data from GSMA Intelligence. With more and more people relying on mobile devices, applications have become human’s best tool in this era. Therefore, moving forward, mobile applications will play a major role in the success of a business. Staying ahead of its competitors, Workstyle Africa offers its members a free application through which they can do several functions such as managing bookings, connecting with the community, making service requests, and accessing account information anywhere, anytime.
The application mainly helps with the efficiencies from both the client, as they use the space, for instance, to book a meeting room and for the firm, as a management tool to more efficiently manage the business. And even though the company has this technology, it also offers front end services such as front desk services to cater for the clientele that prefers such,” said Bary.
The workspace provider continues to invest more in digital technology as a way of helping its clients get the most out of the experience. As a result of this strategy, Workstyle Africa has managed to stay ahead of its competitors and keep its operations active even during the pandemic. In fact, according to Bary, the firm’s two locations have been running on a record 75% occupancy even during Covid-19.
Work environment was on a slow revolution that was fastened by the COVID-19 pandemic. Now, organizations have to realize that the norm has changed. Workstyle Africa has taken up a winning combination by focussing not only on technology but the people as well. Other organizations need to take a leaf especially in this time of transition. As Federico Von Bary says, “the future is hybrid.” The time for change is now to enjoy a successful future.