With Regus it’s business as usual, even during load shedding

Flexible workspace centres are the future. Image: Supplied.

Flexible workspace centres are the future. Image: Supplied.

Published Mar 30, 2023


IWG South Africa talks us through the benefits of hybrid working during SA’s power crisis.

Over the last few years, many businesses have been offering greater flexibility in where their teams work. Employees are able to work where is most convenient, and for many, that means from a local workplace, home, and the head office.

Those working from home, however, will have suffered “The home-office syndrome”, which creates a sense of uneasiness due to a blurring of boundaries between work and home life.

Add load shedding to the equation, and productivity is almost non-existent. There are numerous benefits provided by offices and flex-office locations that can't be replicated in the home environment. Hence, as the world emerged from the pandemic, there has been an unprecedented shift to hybrid working arrangements. It has been overwhelmingly effective for employees, the planet and the business’ profits.

It has become common practice in South Africa to work in a dimly lit room or have equipment die in the middle of a production. Employees either idle the time away or are sent home pending the power cuts. Your entire workforce is, in an instant, made redundant for the duration of the power cut.

Flex-space offices are fast becoming a viable solution to the power issue. Image: Supplied.

This is one of the direct effects on your business, not taking into consideration the loss of production time, the cost of generators and petrol or diesel (for those who can afford it), the loss of customers and clients, the increase in baseline and production cost and time whilst sitting in hours of traffic or waiting for public transport or equipment failure due to the constant cut in power - to name but a few.

During periods of load shedding, employees who are required to work from home may not have a back-up power supply, and employees who are embracing the hybrid work model with home or only a central HQ to choose from may similarly not work during periods of load shedding should they be scheduled to work from home. And in the uniquely South African situation where load shedding is a regular event, sitting for hours without power to charge a laptop or maintain a primary internet connection can be maddening.

Eskom has confirmed that load shedding will continue for some time; people cannot operate under these conditions. It leads to a backlog of work and a decrease in overall productivity.

The question is, then, how can employers reduce the negative impact load shedding has on their operating models?

Flex-space offices are fast becoming a viable solution to the power issue. Simultaneously, crippling fuel costs are having a dire effect on employees. A study by Regus found that workers could save 960 million hours per year in commuting time by 2030 if they turned to flexible working options.

That is a saving of more than 100 million tonnes of CO2. Not only can a shorter journey to work save money and boost well-being, but it can also help to reduce commuters’ carbon footprint, making it a better option for the environment.

“In cases where a company has given up their physical premises and allowed employees to work fully remotely, we are seeing a trend of employers paying for their employees to work from co-working spaces with generators or other continued power supply sources. This enables employees to benefit from the uninterrupted power supply they could access at an office while retaining the flexibility of their current working arrangement,” says Joanne Bushell, MD, IWG Plc, South Africa

There is no certainty around load shedding, and no one knows when it will end for good, but there are options.

In the future, the focus will be on providing flexible local workspaces instead of working from home or an HQ that still needs the cutting-edge IT infrastructure that a flexible workspace centre offers — working from home or a stand-alone office places pressure on a business to ensure that all the required infrastructure is in place. And while in ideal operating conditions, it might be possible to do so cost-effectively, the reality of load shedding makes it unsustainable.

Flex-space offices are fast becoming a viable solution to the power issue. Image: Supplied.

Instead of investing in backup alternative options, using a co-working space like Regus – with over 68 centres in 18 cities countrywide - alleviates that pressure as vital infrastructure is provided. At face value, businesses get beautifully designed office spaces close to where they live and access to amenities, including meeting rooms and constant internet connectivity.

All you need to do is show up with your laptop and work. The rest is provided. “We are seeing employees flock to our flexible workspaces to use our set-up that is designed to maintain power through load shedding. These centres offer much more than just office tools and supplies. They provide a service that improves how people live, and the strategy to position them in suburban centres now provides the basis for a simpler work-life balance,”Bushell adds.

Co-working environments are vital to ensuring business longevity during these trying times, from safe wi-fi to video-conferencing facilities, communal kitchens, and secure parking. The convenience and confidence of being able to work during load shedding has made the hybrid work model and flex-space a reliable solution in difficult economic times.

Providing business owners with the peace of mind that they can remain focussed on doing what they do best means that co-working spaces will grow in popularity and be a key enabler of the growth of the sector in South Africa

One thing is clear: businesses of all sizes and their employees are planning for a hybrid future with all of the benefits for people, company profits and the environment that entails.

Discover how Regus’ hybrid work solutions can support you and your business at Regus.com.