Future work ready: Workshop17 extends services to home office amid COVID-19

As companies and brands continue to experience unprecedented workforce disruptions due to coronavirus, South Africa's workspace solutions provider, Workshop17, has extended its services to support home offices and emerging corportate social innovations amid COVID-19.

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With lots of companies and individuals forced to operate remotely amid the global coronavirus pandemic and ongoing lockdowns, South Africa’s top workspace solutions provider, Workshop17, has taken the lead to provide solutions to the office of the future, which looks to combine  physical and virtual workspace services.

“The future of the office became clearer to us during COVID-19 lockdown. Physical workspaces will always be relevant, but the need to keep our members connected during the lockdown inspired us to re-evaluate our value proposition and shift our focus to provide flexible solutions offering an interchangeable mix of physical and virtual spaces and functionalities,” Paul Keursten, Workshop17 co-founder and CEO said.

We intend to be a work solutions provider to enables corporates, entrepreneurs, freelancers, and others to be productive wherever they choose to operate from – at home or in one of our physical workspaces”, Paul Keursten, Workshop17 co-founder and CEO.

“The company also has the benefit of insights from local market research on how COVID-19 and technology have reframed our understanding of the work-setting.”

According Keurstenore, more than half of the SMME’s surveyed in the #CombatCovid SMME Surve, (co-sponsored by Workshop17) said they have used technology to keep their businesses ticking over during these trying times.

54% of businesses had adopted and/or increased their use of technology, with tools such as online video conferencing, in order to work remotely, run their businesses and streamline processes.

“The long-term work from home arrangements are not a solution for everyone”

Paul Keursten, Workshop17 co-founder and CEO

By all accounts, remote work is here to stay, for a growing number of workers, and this has a major impact on the future of offices. Despite the easing COVID19 restrictions, many companies, big and small, are continuing to allow their employees to work remotely. This shift has had an impact of the traditional idea of the office.

In recent months, Workshop17 has seen an increase in enquiries from large corporates and smaller business alike looking for more flexible workspace options.

Added Keursten: “The corporates that have reached out to us, are telling us that while they recognize that employees do not necessarily need to be based at a corporate head office to be productive, the long-term work from home arrangements are not a solution for everyone.”

Paul Keursten, Workshop17 co-founder and CEO

The reality, he further explained, is that some employees may not necessarily have all the resources they need at home to handle their professional commitments such as adequate workspace, ergonomic furniture, certain office equipment and a stable internet connection. Add to that unexpected load shedding kicks in.

“In order to adapt to the new world of work, we are also hearing from corporates who are open to limiting their traditional office space environments, in some cases reducing their office premises by more than 50%. There is a real appetite for a so-called ‘third space’: a malleable office concept that is relatively close to their employees’ homes to avoid long hours in traffic, that is ergonomic and functional, and just offers a great atmosphere in which their staff can be creative and effective, as well as interact and be inspired by others.”

The above mentioned fundamental shifts is what led to the company developing new offerings such as the so-called ‘office for the day’ for small businesses, and thw larger ‘serviced white box plus’ for larger companies who want to keep dedicated space with their own identity, while at the same time tapping into shared Workshop17 offerings.

Online platform keeps entrepreneurs together while working apart

When the workplace stops being one location and co-workers are working from home, a corporate office, or a Workshop17 style workspace, a virtual platform is needed to tie it all together, he said.

One such a solution is the Workshop17’s new W17 World online platform, which contains a wide range of secure features for co-working, co-learning and well-being. 

The platform provides access to the company’s fully encrypted video conferencing platform, available to all members as well as the public. The secure W17 Meet video conferencing solution provides a secure and efficient alternative to Zoom. Hosted by Workshop17’s servers in South Africa, the platform allows for free unlimited calls and call time.

W17 World also facilitates ‘blind networking’ for members who may be looking to expand their business network, share a business idea, or connect with a specific industry expert. Already renowned for its event hosting facilities, Workshop17 now in addition provides members with comprehensive virtual event management services for webinars, seminars and workshops.

Members also have access to the W17 World ‘Entrepreneur Toolbox’ for crowd-sourced content including useful apps, online courses and free learning, eBooks and templates. Other features include a community notice board, playlists, workout tips and favourite recipes.

“We have learnt a lot during this pandemic and have taken the opportunity to reflect on new ways to support our members in a changing world. We have embarked on a journey of innovation with a focus on flexibility and workspace customization that will have us best placed for the new normal after COVID-19,” concluded Keursten.

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