If buying a home is considered the most stressful purchase an adult can make, securing a business address is the equivalent for Small to Medium Enterprises (SMEs) and start-ups. A 2019 workplace survey commissioned in 80 countries by flexible workspace giant, IWG plc, showed that flexible workspace could be the answer to many of the hurdles the estimated 7.5 million SMEs in Kenya face.
Barriers to entry into the market for SMEs in Kenya, range from insufficient capital, limited market access and poor infrastructure, to inadequate knowledge and skills and rapid changes in technology. The Government attempts to address these problems include enforcing legislation on local content for public projects and establishing ‘Buy Kenya, Build Kenya’ policies in public procurement.
The global workspace survey conducted by leading flexible workspace provider, IWG plc, shows that flexible working may solve a big part of the puzzle of raising up sustainable SMEs.
The research shows that 77 percent of businesses surveyed in South Africa, said that flexible working plays a big role in the success of SMEs. 51 percent said that flexible working helped SMEs attract and retain talent, whereas 62 percent reported being more productive. 45 percent used flexible workspace to reduce their capital expenditure and operational expenditure. Though the survey was not done in Kenya due to a smaller sample size, the benefits could definitely apply here.
The move to flexible working in the rest of the world is even more marked. Of the 15,000 respondents from 80 different countries around the world, 75 percent believe that flexible working has become the new normal. As a result, in the past ten years, 85 percent of businesses have introduced a flexible workspace policy, or are planning to adopt one (89 percent in South Africa) in an effort to retain talent.
Businesses also singled out the daily commute as a reason to use flexible workspace, with 47 percent in South Africa using a nearby co-working space to reduce commute times and costs.
Joanne Bushell, Managing Director and VP Sales in Africa for IWG plc. says, “Businesses around the world are facing multiple challenges including ensuring that their business is agile enough to adapt to change. SMEs in South Africa are no different. Our research shows that businesses that haven’t already considered the financial and strategic benefits of flexible workspace need to do so now. Otherwise, they face being seen as out of touch, both with their competitors and with the demands of the modern workforce.”
Fredrick Ochieng, a small business owner and Regus member says of their use of the flexible workspace at 14 Riverside Business Park in Nairobi, “It has given us a more professional image and greater accessibility to our offices. We’ve also seen an increase in confidence in our products and services.”
Joanne adds, “Flexible workspace is truly a way for SMEs to reduce costs, remain agile in changing environments, make profitable connections and attract and retain talent in a professional environment that supports business growth.”