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Out with old as offices evolve

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South Africa is one of the countries leading the global race in the proliferation of eco-friendly Green Buildings.

Office buildings and internal space are fast evolving, with workspaces uniformly designed to pack people in a thing of the past.

Today, efficiency is obtained by alternative, more holistically empathetic means, says Broll Property Intel’s latest research report The Evolution of Offices.

“Office buildings are becoming iconic designs that push the limits of materials, space and height – all while incorporating environmental responsibilities.”

South Africa is one of the countries leading the global race in the proliferation of eco-friendly Green Buildings. Since energy- efficient building regulations came into effect in November 2011, the corporate landscape has been changing rapidly.

In 2009, South Africa had one green-star certification but by 2017 there were 300 Green Star certified buildings, with more anticipated. This move towards greener construction is partly a result of increasing electricity and operational costs, the report says.

Mixed-use developments are one-point destinations of convenience, featuring offices, shops, residential properties, hotels and parking. All this minimises commuter carbon emissions, while creating a ‘live-work-play’ environment.

This report suggests that inner office spaces are also undergoing a radical transformation. With multi-generational staff complements, working spaces have become hives of differing aspirations, characteristics and preferences among employees.

For example, older employees might value top-down managerial styles and partitioned cubicles, while millennials believe in earned respect and the pursuit of their goals. Therefore, architects and interior designers are now more focused on constructing working environments that cater to a workforce’s health, creativity, happiness and the reduction of stress.

“It is evident that work ethic and attitude towards the workplace need to match one’s working environment and vice versa.

“The balance between the matrix of multi-generational workforces and their workspace and environment is vital for productivity and the overall success of a business.”

The report also touches on technology in the workplace, stressing the need for modular IT infrastructures in response to rapidly advancing corporate technologies. While face to face interactions should never be discouraged, some employees prefer to communicate via email or instant messaging. Employers should remain accommodating of the evolving workforce, like providing wi-fi throughout the office space and assigning laptop computers to employees who can work remotely.

The report reveals that at the start of this year, the South African office market was made up of more than 18 million m² of space, with a national vacancy rate of 11%.


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