Gone are the days of the nine to five; in its place are the remote job, the functional home office and, well, the freedom to log in from wherever suits you.
The hybrid office model – the office of the future
Nowhere is this philosophy more in evidence than at the BlackBrick Club. Interestingly, BlackBrick was launched before Covid times, but even then, its mission to combine digital and physical communities – what we’ve come to think of as the hybrid office model – was eagerly embraced. According to BlackBrick Marketing Manager Bianca Talbot, 90% of the 208 apartments and hotel units launched at its first development sold within just 35 days.
So, what exactly is it that makes these developments – one based in Cape Town and one in Sandton – so very desirable? Bianca explains that BlackBrick is far more than an enviable address or even a remote working office with a difference. “We’ve brought together so many different aspects of a neighbourhood or a community,” she says.
In addition to workspaces and boardrooms, each location boasts restaurants, bars and social spaces like rooftop lounges, as well as wellness areas like boxing gyms, meditation gardens and yoga bomas. The Sandton club even has its own 100-seater cinema, rooftop pool and organic vegetable garden. Add in a unique aesthetic, courtesy of the murals and art installations by local artists which Bianca says are a key part of each building’s character, and it’s easy to understand why the concept appeals to a group she describes as “free-minded”.
The flexibility factor
She adds that flexibility is a major drawcard too. Pandemic conditions mean that people are no longer bound to their address – office or residential – and many are keen to take advantage of what this means. BlackBrick’s subscription model makes it possible for members to move between Johannesburg and Cape Town at 48 hours’ notice, or to book in for a day, a week, a month – or their lifetime – as suits them. What’s more, no matter the length of the stay, guests are afforded all the conveniences that make their pied-à-terre feel like a real home from home, including a furnished aparthotel unit, cleaning service and Wi-Fi.
BlackBrick continues to refine its offering as the fallout of the pandemic becomes more obvious. For instance, having taken stock of the financial uncertainty many are experiencing, it has introduced a new product that allows guests to stay for three months or longer without a lease or deposit – a situation that also suits those who aren’t quite sure where work will take them.
An entrepreneurial community
“Many businesses have adopted a long-term approach to remote working – even after the pandemic, it’s possible that many employees will choose to continue working from home, maybe going to the office just one or two days every week. The problem is that if you live in a studio – or even a larger two-bedroomed apartment – seeing the same walls every day and having little interaction with the outside world, your motivation can definitely be affected. And with that comes reduced productivity.”
– Bianca Talbot
BlackBrick counters this sense of stagnancy because the available workspaces, boardrooms and mini conferencing spaces make it possible for every employee to find a facility that meets their needs – whether that’s a space to work because current restrictions mean the office is out of reach, or a permanent business location.
“The real beauty lies in our goal of creating a network of like-minded people, which is rooted in our philosophy of social structures and natural environments, and curated exposure to fertile city integrated economies.”
– BlackBrick founder Moritz Wellensiek
This has given rise to a highly engaged, entrepreneurial community who use the building’s unique infrastructure to network with others, while also enjoying its benefits as a primary place of work.
The office of the future
It’s not surprising, then, that this interpretation of the office of the future is celebrating one success after another, with its Flexi product proving especially popular, thanks to the double appeal of a low-risk stay with high benefit.
“Our hotel and short-stay model deserves mention too, having outperformed the market. This is most likely due to the flexibility we offer, as well as the agility of our model: our units can be placed in both short or long-stay offerings, moving with market demands.”