With a fast-changing workplace, companies are opting for offices that offer flexibility in terms of location, size, budget and services. As co-working and serviced offices become a reality, more companies are setting up in Kenya.
Kofisi, a provider of flexible spaces in Africa and the UK, opened offices in Nairobi's Karen this week.
“As a result of population growth, and infrastructure development, affluent suburbs like Karen are evolving and a need for flexible office work space is growing. We want to combine high-end collaborative African design with global know-how and state of the art integrated technology in office spaces,” said Michael Aldrige, Kofisi CEO.
He adds that the fastest growing sector in commercial real estate is the line of flexible spaces where most people want shorter leases as it is financially viable.
He points out that businesses are now inclining more to having someone manage their workspace through the provision of furnishings, reception and IT support, building maintenance and cleaning services, at one fixed price, to save them the burden of having to provide and manage the services themselves.
“It is hard to do everything as an entrepreneur like when Internet is not working. You just have to focus on what your business is producing while another person takes up all the other back office administration,” he said.
A flexible office comes in form of serviced offices, co-working spaces, managed offices, virtual and private offices, leases, sublets and workshop units. He avers that a flexible office is about 30 percent cheaper and efficient than a conventional one as one pays only per desk and not per square feet.
“If you need five desks in a private serviced office, five days a week, to one desk in a shared co-working space part time, or access to a meeting room when you need one, that is what you will pay for,” explains the CEO.
The dynamics of the Kenyan workforce is changing. Being happy at the workplace is becoming a productivity driver.
“Younger workers want stimulating workspaces and well-designed.”
A 2018 report by Knight Frank — (Y) OUR SPACE — revealed that the demand for flexible workspace is set to accelerate as over two thirds of global corporates plan to increase their use of flexible co-working and collaborative space over the next three year.
The report showed that flexible workspace creates a more collaborative working environment as well as offering a business the freedom to expand and contract quickly.
The Knight Frank report noted that over two thirds or 69 percent of global corporates plan to increase their utilisation of co-working spaces with 80 percent expecting to grow the amount of collaborative space they use over the next three years.
More than half of the firms interviewed pointed to increased flexibility as the main driver of the change with 75 percent saying the change will increase personal productivity linked to well-being and happiness.
These workspaces are customised according to the clients’ preferences. For instance, Kofisi has a flexi space, charged by the hour, ideal for start-up clientele looking to use the office for a few hours in a day or in a month and not necessarily wanting a private office.
Private offices can hold from two people up to nine and come with chairs and storage space and is paid at Sh6,500 per work station a month.
Mr Aldrige says that Kofisi, which entered the Kenyan market five years ago and already having five centres with the sixth one opening later in the year, has more than 200 clients with 95 percent of them being enterprise clients, most day-to-day users, with half of them being multinationals while the rest are Kenyans.
“We are present in eight cities in Africa — Lagos, Johannesburg, Kigali, Kampala, Dar es Salaam, Addis Ababa and Accra — and our client base is largely multinationals coming to Kenya to have offices although they have footprints across different countries.
“Our biggest clients are Google, Total Kenya and Siemens while the local ones are Summit Strategies and ISM Africa,” Mr Aldrige told BD Life.