Future forward workspaces gaining momentum in South Africa

An artist's impression of Nedbank’s R1-billion development, Park Square.
An artist's impression of Nedbank’s R1-billion development, Park Square.

*“People always need a place to come together, and while coffee shops are great, people still like to have a place they can call a work home. I don’t think work has left the building – there is still that communal driver.” 

Many office developments are responding to the need of future-forward work spaces to connect, collaborate and to share ideas. This comes from the rapid technological advancements which have gifted employees with the ability to redefine their work lives by working remotely thanks to WIFI, smartphones and other tech savvy tools. 

These office developments are providing considered work environments which emphasize openness, transcend the idea of the daily grind and encourage a healthy work life balance campus-style and community orientated spaces.

Today, companies are understanding the importance of nurturing productivity through the significant benefits of open and flexible office environments, including creativity, knowledge sharing, teamwork and coordination.

Whilst Google, Apple and various other tech advanced companies have been operating like this for decades, South Africa is just beginning to grasp the flexible and open work phenomenan.

Cue Park Square, Nedbank’s iconic R1billion mixed-use office and retail development located within uMhlanga’s New Town Centre and thriving commercial hub. Bordering the popular CJ Saunders Park and featuring innovative commercial and retail offerings, Park Square with its considered restaurants, shops and coffee bars will offer a connected work culture incorporating a unique leisure offering seamlessly linked to a vibrant and open urban square.

The Four Star Green Star-rated building, due for completion in October this year, includes 36 000m² of commercial space, 4 000m² of retail and an impressive 3 500m² open public piazza. Furthermore, it’s easily accessible to pedestrians, offers abundant parking and is close to a GO!Durban Integrated Rapid Public Transport Network stop.

Ken Reynolds, Nedbank Property Finance Divisional Executive, property expert and Director of Nedport Developments, a subsidiary of Nedbank and Park Square’s developers says:

Projects like Park Square are effectively turning the South African urban planning paradigm around. This innovative and connected space encourages people to think beyond the boardroom, take time to unplug and to connect with one another. By similarly drawing the surrounding communities for shopping and relaxing, the overall effect is a sociable, communal space that emphasises a convenient and balanced work life experience.

Park Square has already secured a series of high profile tenants including Nedbank, Spar and the IBV International Vaults. Spar Marketing Manager, Travis Anderson says: “Customers no longer want to shop in large centres. They want the convenience of parking, walking straight into the building, doing their shop and walking straight out. We love Park Square because of its convenient location in a fast-developing area and its proximity to the CJ Saunders park which will allow us extra exposure as we piggy back off activities held there.”

Reynolds says: “If you can imagine your day like this; arrive at work with your barista-made coffee in hand, in a reusable mug of course, use the morning for planning and responding to mails followed by a quick jog around the park at lunch, tuck into an artisanal deluxe sandwich bought from the Spar then attend afternoon meetings and drinks in the Square with your new client? Then you have imagined a day at Park Square.”

Not forgetting profitability, a positive work environment increases productivity and in turn can have a significant impact on a company’s success. A reduction in staff downtime having amenities within walking distance of employee’s desks also reduces stress, as well as the lunch-hour rush with staff being able to avoid having to leaving the campus for their various requirements – from healthcare to lunch and even a spot of recreational shopping.

Reynolds says, “Park Square offers mutual benefit for the employer and the employees with its unique commercial and lifestyle aspects. This world-class destination offers a win-win situation for both, where staff benefit by working in an open, future-forward environment and companies reap the rewards on their bottom line,” he concludes.

*(Director, Monica Parker, behaviourist and founder of organizational change consultancy, Hatch).