6 of SA’s coolest of­fices

Finweek English Edition - - INSIDE - BY LINDA TRIM

When one thinks of ‘the of­fice’, it’s easy to imag­ine the all-en­tic­ing cube farm fea­tur­ing 1980s f lu­o­res­cent lights, drab walls and dated tech­nol­ogy with spaghetti ca­bles. With the av­er­age South African worker spend­ing more than 2 000 hours in the of­fice ev­ery year, lo­cal com­pa­nies are be­gin­ning to take cog­ni­sance of the fact that a bet­ter work­place af­fects pro­duc­tiv­ity.

As a way of se­cur­ing the best and bright­est, com­pa­nies are now pay­ing more at­ten­tion to the en­vi­ron­ment creat- ed by their workspaces. There are many dif­fer­ent ways to make an off ice cater to its work­ers. Some off ices fea­ture ath­letic equip­ment that helps work­ers re­duce stress and get their blood pump­ing. Oth­ers fea­ture lounges where work­ers can re­lax and feel at home. In some way or an­other, of­fices should be de­signed to en­cour­age work­ers to think more cre­atively and play­fully.

Here are six in­spi­ra­tional, well de­signed and en­ter­tain­ing off ices that add a touch of colour and fun to the South African workspace:


Red Bull gives their em­ploy­ees wings by pro­vid­ing more than 1 600m2 space right at the har­bour’s edge in Cape Town’s Wa­ter­front. The walls are dec­o­rated with surf­boards, pic­tures of the brand’s sport­ing ad­ven­tures and me­mora­bilia, and a ‘wall of fame’. Red Bull is pro­vided on tap, there are pri­vate war rooms to break free and strate­gise in, and there is an ar­cade games room for staff to en­joy. The high-end space is characterised by a fun industrial look with no ceil­ings, while be­ing acous­ti­cally sound-proof. The space fea­tures amaz­ing views and the nat­u­ral light­ing stim­u­lates staff cre­ativ­ity. Pop­u­lated over two floors, the of­fice en­cour­ages staff to move around freely while elim­i­nat­ing hi­er­ar­chi­cal struc­tures.


The brand pro­vides a space that is mod­ern and clean, and has a white clin­i­cal look and feel to rep­re­sent the med­i­cal field. The work­place fea­tures two state-of-the-art Sim­u­la­tion Labs that al­low med­i­cal pro­fes­sion­als from around the world to ob­serve the lat­est in med­i­cal tech­nol­ogy, stepped au­di­to­ri­ums and sev­eral meet­ing rooms with state-of-the-art au­dio and vis­ual equip­ment. Unique tele­phone rooms al­low for pri­vate calls or quiet work­ing ar­eas, and a mod­ern com­mu­nity café that fea­tures high-bench work­ing ar­eas with con­nec­tiv­ity, al­low­ing staff to break free and work in a more in­for­mal en­vi­ron­ment. The of­fice area in­cor­po­rates ‘bright zones’, which in­clude dif­fer­ent op­tions of shared spa­ces to col­lab­o­rate. The sim­plis­tic, well-planned lay­out pro­vides a great ed­u­ca­tion cen­tre for staff which makes learn­ing fun, while fur­ther pro­mot­ing ef­fi­ciency and pro­duc­tiv­ity in the work­force.


The mas­sive cor­po­rate space brings a taste of fun and flavour start­ing with a VIP McCafé on the ground floor. High­lights in­clude cash-free fa­cil­i­ties, prod­uct taste testing and open days for the neigh­bour­ing cor­po­rates in the CBD once a week. State- of-the-art train­ing fa­cil­i­ties are pro­vided and tech­nol­ogy is in­te­grated through­out, in­clud­ing in the meet­ing rooms and top-class board­rooms, which have their own pri­vate bar area and elec­tronic screens and blinds. There are 360° views of the Sand­ton sky­line, which al­low for nat­u­ral light and stim­u­late cre­ativ­ity among the work­force. Dé­cor in­cludes vi­brant colours with mu­rals, art and funky wall­pa­per. Re­cy­cling bins are used to pro­mote sus­tain­abil­ity and open­plan de­vices such as the ‘phone booth’ al­low staff to take pri­vate calls in a tem­per­a­ture-con­trolled booth with builtin light­ing. The iconic McDon­ald’s golden arches are used through­out on door frames and in en­trance ar­eas. There are also green planter boxes at each desk, to add a touch of green­ery and pri­vacy. An open-plan stair­case in the mid­dle of the of­fice, trendy open-plan fur­ni­ture and in­for­mal break­away ar­eas fur­ther pro­mote col­lab­o­ra­tion among work­ers.


This com­pany paints the town red with its colour­pro­duc­tive show­room of­fices. Guided by the colour trend fore­cast, the of­fice in­te­rior is cre­atively used as a can­vass to il­lus­trate the brand’s prod­uct range. Key fur­ni­ture items can be eas­ily up­dated and changed ac­cord­ing to the sea­son’s colour pan­tones. Each board­room is used to dis­play the dif­fer­ent prod­ucts’ colours, while ed­u­cat­ing staff about the brand of­fer­ing. The area fea­tures open­plan work en­vi­ron­ments, as well as shared spa­ces, such as the can­teen area, where colours are strate­gi­cally used to pro­mote both in­ter­ac­tion and re­lax­ation. The com­pany clev­erly uses the of­fice space to ed­u­cate its em­ploy­ees, while cre­at­ing a fun, bright and bold en­vi­ron­ment to en­joy.


The in­vest­ment man­age­ment firm cre­ated a fun, fresh con­tem­po­rary of­fice with em­pha­sis on pro­vid­ing a state-of-the-art ed­u­ca­tion cen­tre for med­i­cal pro­fes­sion­als and stu­dents. Key high­lights in­clude a num­ber of dif­fer­ent spa­ces for staff to en­joy; from showers, to lock­ers, bi­cy­cle hang­ers and even a chil­dren’s en­ter­tain­ment room. The of­fice space can also be used for mul­ti­ple pur­poses. The cof­fee sta­tion can con­vert into a staff can­teen and en­ter­tain­ment bar; what is used as a play area for kids in the morn­ing can eas­ily con­vert into an em­ployee re­lax­ation space in the af­ter­noons; the in­ter­nal meet­ing ar­eas can be used as project work­sta­tions and the main board­room can be used as a for­mal dining area. Flex­i­ble staff ar­eas are pro­vided by us­ing stack­able doors to cre­ate open-plan spa­ces, en­cour­ag­ing fur­ther team­work and co­op­er­a­tion through­out the com­pany.


Toy­ota Africa took the ini­tia­tive to place all its staff and em­ploy­ees in a green build­ing filled with fun and games for all to en­joy. Fun of­fice el­e­ments in­clude pop­corn ma­chines and even a sweets area. Pause and break-away zones are also pro­vided to al­low staff mem­bers to re­lax and re­gain en­ergy. Trendy mod­ern fur­ni­ture through­out and colour­ful workspaces in­cor­po­rat­ing nat­u­ral African el­e­ments, such as wa­ter­falls and nat­u­ral wall­pa­per, pro­vide a calm­ing, stress-free en­vi­ron­ment that brings happy smiles to all. It’s ev­i­dent that the fu­ture of the of­fice is fun. Whether they are in a high-rise build­ing or in a trans­formed garage, work­place en­vi­ron­ments mat­ter. A cre­ative, func­tional of­fice can set the tone for ev­ery­thing a com­pany does. When one looks at lead­ing com­pa­nies such as Google and Face­book, which re­quire smart, cre­ative and in-de­mand work­ers, fun and open-plan col­lab­o­ra­tive of­fices of­fer a com­pet­i­tive edge when try­ing to at­tract the cream of the crop. It makes sense since pro­fes­sion­als spend more hours at the of­fice each week than they do at home, and an of­fice that pro­vides space for group gath­er­ings, brain­storm­ing, re­lax­ation, and col­lab­o­ra­tion boosts pro­duc­tiv­ity and gives staff a fan­tas­tic rea­son to come to work each day.

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