- Workable is home to a variety of businesses including several Fortune 500 companies and others involved in private equity, impact investment and venture capital, financial technology, energy investing as well as social impact investors.
In January, local investor Samir Patel injected additional funding to expand his 10,000 square-feet premium flexible office-space business located at Sanlam Towers in Westlands.
He had 90 percent leasing commitments beckoning, mainly from existing and new clients, until the Covid-19 pandemic reached Kenya leading to about 60 percent of new multinational (MNCs) clients delaying their decision.
“They have chosen to remain non-committal and study the Kenya situation from afar. This, however, is a trend witnessed worldwide post Covid-19 as businesses reassess their real estate needs. Larger enterprises including many MNCs have exacting and specific standards of what an office should be – what are known as Grade A+ offices. With the health considerations around Covid-19, our main challenge has been to provide a safe and healthy working environment particularly around ventilation and the provision of fresh and clean air,” he says.
Mr Patel, who had injected significant funding when he founded his 12,000 square feet facility under the Workable brand in 2019, said he and his Board chose to continue with the project, a decision that opened new opportunities as many large enterprises seek to right-size in a flexible manner. The firms, he says, seek the agility to contract or expand albeit in a design-focused, spacious and well-aerated ready-to-occupy space.
“The uncertainty of the Covid-19 pandemic and its financial after-effects meant a cautious approach on handling global MNCs that expect office leasing businesses to meet the same standards found at their global headquarters,” he says.
While none of his clients left, the Workable CEO says his experience in C-Suite offices in Kenya, the UK and Dubai, where he worked for many years, along with extensive consultation with corporate real estate professionals gave him firsthand knowledge on the requirements needed to keep his clients happy.
The Workable had already invested in sophisticated heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning (HVAC) systems that ensure a supply of fresh air into every room in line with global best practice, while occupied spaces per room have been reduced to meet social distancing guidelines by the government and the World Health Organisation.
Features such as mandatory one-way traffic in corridors, reduced capacity in meeting rooms, and obligatory temperature checks have been introduced to mitigate the risks associated with Covid-19.
“Our facility is active round the clock as some MNCs expect their workers across the globe to be at work at the same time. We have introduced more elaborate and frequent sanitation standards and ensure every visitor or client has their temperature recorded digitally and particulars taken for ease of contact tracing,” he said.
The 240-person facility also includes several value-adds where new MNCs are assisted with tax and legal services from partner companies as well as hotel and accommodation services, a feature Workable calls ‘business concierge’.
With Covid-19, Workable reduced its capacities but retained seven workers manning the facility’s two floors whose tenants enjoy access to a gourmet cafe, 2,000 square-foot terrace, mothers and wellness rooms, boardrooms as well as secretarial and reception area services.
Mr Patel said they are expanding features available on their client App and website to enhance client usability and engagement which will help generate extra data for the safety of users as they seek to introduce touchless features.
Two leased broadband connections have been installed at the facility with an emphasis on meeting global data security protocols to promote live interactions between the satellite offices and their global headquarters.
Mr Patel said this ensured reliability while opening a new business line for its executive boardrooms that are now fully booked daily.
“Some workers operate from home and occasionally pop in to participate in meetings. We are also very conscious of meeting the changing demands of the workspace particularly for millennials who have a different way of defining a conducive working space. It means access to the in-house cafe, mother’s room, a gym and a tech workstation that caters for their wellbeing. These features are important to our global clients in terms of retention and productivity of their workforce.
“We imported ergonomic sit-stand desks that are operated via our Workable App where you can set a reminder to automatically raise the desk hourly allowing you to stand and stretch as increasingly global health research has warned of humans becoming too sedentary,” he adds.
Workable is home to a variety of businesses including several Fortune 500 companies and others involved in private equity, impact investment and venture capital, financial technology, energy investing as well as social impact investors.
Creating a vibrant and engaging hub that is ready to move and agile whilst meeting global requirements standards helps support Nairobi and Kenya’s position as a leading foreign direct investment (FDI) destination especially in the wake of the global recession brought on by Covid-19.