GQ (South Africa)

Letter from the Editor

- nkosiyati khumalo Editor-in-chief

When I WAS young , nothing was more exciting than going into the Big Citytm with my mother. These outings were usually restricted to very special occasions, or on odd days when I didn’t have school but was too young to be left alone and babysitter­s were too much of a hassle.

On those days, I’d get a kick out of imagining how I would look doing adult things: Drinking from my favourite coffee mug! Wearing sneakers onto the commuter train and changing into formal shoes at the office! Reading a memo! Writing a report! (Big nerd, I know.)

My mother worked at the UN headquarte­rs in New York City, so visiting her at work had the extra flair of multiple accents flying around and lots of translated signage and the unique aura of a space that’s technicall­y internatio­nal property. I loved stopping right before we walked into the building and stare straight up its almost-solid glass surface, dreaming of what it would one day be like to work in an important office in the Big Citytm.

This was, after all, the sign that you had made it: a demanding, yet cushy corporate job and a steady path into the corner office, or better yet, a higher floor. That was the dream.

Now I can say with an increasing sense of finality that the traditiona­l office is dying its slow death. In Cape Town alone, I can stand on one street corner and count five different co-working spaces, with another three under constructi­on. Even amidst what appears to be the spectacula­r crash and burn of the Wework unicorn, it seems the new dream is the gig-office: a space you pay for as you need it. And with the hybridisat­ion of many of these spaces – have a drink at the bar / visit the pool / hop on the treadmill / jump onto a video conference / rent the apartment upstairs – the lines between work and personal life may soon be gone forever. We spoke to some of these new-gen landlords to find how they’re shaping the future of office culture (p48).

So will all of that change the way we actually work? To paraphrase a line from one of my favourite sitcoms: ‘Office politics have always existed. That’s why they built offices – to make a space for the politics to play out.’ As a handful of experts reveal on page 74, these new playing fields demand a whole new set of skills to remain competitiv­e, productive and copacetic – even in the most coeverythi­ng environmen­ts.

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