Consolidating costs, the ability to opt out of a lease at any stage, and a general desire to be in the company of others not necessarily linked to your business are what’s driving a high demand for serviced office space in South Africa, despite a surge in office supply.
And Cube Workspace, a funky serviced-office-space provider, is providing just these benefits to clients from industries as disparate as online hotel-booking businesses to oil companies.
Within a period of three short years, Cube Workspace, which styles itself along advertising-agency lines with its hip interiors, has grown by a 400% - a remarkable feat, especially in the face of a surge in the supply of office space, which had increased 3.4% year-on-year to 16,7 million m2 in 2013. Cube Workspace has a total floor space of 8,000m2 spread over four prime-located serviced-office-space properties in South Africa. The company has recently opened its fourth offering, a R40m, 2,000m2, 36-office property right in the heart of Bryanston, adjacent to the popular Nicolway Shopping Centre.
“We’ve witnessed phenomenal growth,” confirms Anthony Manas, CEO for Cube Workspace, and owner of Manas Design, the commercial interior-design entity responsible for all four properties’ bright outfits. “Three years ago we opened our Kyalami and Foreshore Cape Town properties which are now at maximum capacity. Already occupancy rates for Bryanston and Rondebosch are exceeding our expectations. Clients love the playful interiors, prime locations and leasing flexibility.”
Despite a sluggish economic performance after the 2009 recession, demand for improved offices in general has grown. This is mainly because large blue-chip corporates are consolidating various divisions into a single more cost- and energy-efficient space, situated in prime nodes like Sandton, Waterfall, Rosebank, Bryanston and Cape Town.
Head of Commercial Property at data-analytics company Lightstone Property Ndibu Motaung clarifies, “Cost of occupation is a primary concern because of rising municipal costs, electricity prices, fuel and volatile exchange rates, and this is driving large entities like Alexander Forbes, Ernst and Young, Discovery, Webber Wentzel and FNB to occupy more energy efficient and ergonomic offices in Sandton and Cape Town.”
Says Manas, “With older space becoming more available, ambitious serviced-office-space providers like ourselves are breathing new life into buildings, and offering an environment more compelling to smaller- to mid-sized businesses. But serviced office space is also becoming an attractive option to foreign businesses opening offices in South Africa, who want to mitigate the complexities of long-lease agreements by opting for something far more flexible and price competitive.”
Cube Workspace’s current tenants include APP (Asia Pulp and Paper), one of the largest Indonesian-headquartered pulp-and-paper companies in the world; Expedia, an American-based parent company to several global online travel brands; and HVS, a New York-based hospitality consulting firm.
Two types of serviced offices exist locally, one being the fast-track, high-density, high-turnover-of-people, train-station-type environment, and the other the more sedate suburban-office environment. “Location is everything, and is the guiding principle to deciding which to choose,” says Manas. He adds that space closest to the biggest transport hubs does the best, citing as an example Cube Workspace’s Foreshore branch in the Icon building in Cape Town, which is within 20m of a large MyCiti bus terminal.
Polished, friendly service from everyone, from frontline receptionists to building managers and leasing agents, as well as fresh-and-happening interiors, and the fastest, most stable broadband speeds, are the next lot of deciding factors, Manas says.
Cube Workspace also provides hot-desking solutions and various virtual-office packages to entrepreneurs and professionals on the go, as well as meeting-room and boardroom hire packages to non-clients who require usage and the accompanying standard technology on an hourly basis.
Cube Workspace offers all the necessary facilities and conveniences, such as a phone-answering service, a dedicated phone number and office address, 24-hour voicemail retrieval, professional reception services, an in-house printing, scanning and faxing facility, and a daily cleaning service. It all adds up to a very high degree of professionalism that ensures a seamless service, down to the phone being answered in your business’s name. “Your clients need never know that it’s a shared facility,” Manas points out.
Access-controlled security, interactive whiteboards, cutting-edge teleconferencing and video-conferencing technology in the boardrooms, and in-house deli restaurants called Cube Café round out the offering.