Why risk managers are suddenly interested in flexible working

Risk managers have a new weapon in their arsenals – flexible working.

The use of flexible working, and a connected property strategy, as tools for risk management is a relatively new trend, and one expected to grow significantly as more businesses understand the new workspace strategies available to them.

We are entering a workspace revolution, powered by digitalisation and increased connectivity. IWG, the parent company of workspace companies such as Regus and Spaces, recently surveyed 19,000 business people from around the world (96 countries to be precise). The results were astonishing:

Most relevant for risk managers, 73% of respondents said that flexible working helped them to mitigate against risk. How? Perhaps some of the other results may provide insight:

  • 89% believe it helps their business grow and optimise costs
  • 87% believe it helps their business stay competitive
  • 83% believe it helps their business maximise profits
  • 82% believe it helps them create a presence in new markets
  • 80% stated that enabling their company’s employees to work from anywhere helped them recruit and retain top talent

This revolution means that businesses are increasingly studying how flexible working can help them to grow. As part of that, they are also discovering how it can help them manage different types of risk.

First, financial risk. Research by real estate company JLL recently estimated that by 2030, 30% of corporate real estate will be flexible. That’s three out of every ten buildings. Why are companies using so much flexible workspace? One big reason is cost. Companies can save significant costs on real estate that they outsource, sometimes as much as 50% or more. Clearly, reducing long leases, capital expenditure and overall costs providers a financial boost that helps financial risk.

Incoming new regulation IFRS 16 – which will put leased assets onto a business’s balance sheet – will be a trigger for more businesses to recognise this advantage and to take advantage of the broader advantages of flexible workspaces.

Second, and linked, is strategic risk. Global businesses need to expand and move into new territories. They do this to be closer to customers, employees and suppliers. To do this successfully often demands commitment, but it can be challenging to understand what level of commitment is required. Do you want to sign a long-lease on an office only to discover that the opportunity didn’t materialise? And then find yourself tied to that office, with the overheads it requires, while you identify a fresh opportunity in another market? Again, a flexible workspace strategy negates this risk. Flexible working is not simply about personal employee productivity (although this is undoubtedly a key advantage) – it is also about ensuring that businesses of all sizes have the agility to seize an opportunity.

Third, talent retention. In a connected, extremely competitive world, business success is determined by talent. It’s clear that the expectations and demands of employees are changing and indeed, that the demands of top talent are changing. A recent study found that 87 per cent of workers would like the option to work flexibly. And by that – they don’t mean working from home one day a week. They mean the chance to work on the move, explore  new locations, and fit their work commitments around their life commitments. If you can deliver that, your appeal as an employer will rocket.

A flexible workspace strategy offers talent a package that they know will enable them to be their most productive, without compromising their work life balance unnecessarily. It also helps a business to retain that talent – at all levels of the company. That is a key factor in ensuring that ambitious, global businesses keep one of their most important differentiators – their people.

Finally, flexible workspace strategies can give risk managers peace of mind that they have a plan in place for those unforeseen events that can play havoc with business continuity from a physical and digital perspective. Having a flexible workspace provider as your recovery partner means you are not tied down to any one location and can adopt a location recovery strategy at any time. Best of all, you can test the business when and where you want – because workspace providers like nothing better than showing people their great workspaces. This also has benefits in terms of network security – if your network is compromised you can use a workspace supplier’s network instead. A properly-networked flexible workspace partner can provide this.

The workspace revolution has transformed how individuals view office life. Now business leaders are recognising the specific strategic and financial benefits that it will bring to organisations of all sizes. Central to that is how it will help them to mitigate against threats and seize opportunities. That’s why the smartest risk managers are paying close attention to their property portfolios and flexible working.

This article is largely contributed by: Joe Sullivan, Managing Director of Regus Workplace Recovery

Using the built environment to maximise health and wellbeing

There is a growing trend within the construction and building industry to change a building’s structure specifically to enhance the comfort of those living or working in it. This concept is nothing new and has been the basis of Saint-Gobain’s Multi Comfort principles for a number of years, as explained by Slawomir Szpunar, Saint-Gobain’s International Marketing Director during a recent visit to South Africa.

Szpunar addressed a number of Saint-Gobain’s customers and selected media during an event hosted at a new development in Benmore Gardens, Sandton, where he explained and detailed Saint-Gobain’s multi-faceted Multi Comfort concept and approach. The development is an upmarket residential and mixed-use project and will be one of the largest Saint-Gobain Habito™ drywall installations in the world.

Szpunar explained that most people spend the majority of their time inside buildings, so the way a building is designed and functions, is crucial when it comes to health and general comfort. He explained that the Multi Comfort concept relates the design of living or working environments to human senses, incorporating feeling, seeing, hearing and breathing with focus on thermal sensation, aesthetics and colours, acoustics and the quality of the air we breathe.

Feel – Thermal Comfort

There’s no ‘one size fits all’ recipe for thermal comfort: it’s the outcome of a well-balanced combination of building systems, which are adapted to both the local climate and the type of activities performed in a particular building.

Buildings designed in this way will keep themselves at an optimal temperature using very little energy. Thermal comfort is affected by many different factors, including air temperature, humidity, draughts, the surface temperature of surrounding walls, the intensity and type of activities being performed in a building and the clothing occupants are wearing. During construction, one needs to take into consideration the materials used to construct the building (the choice of brick, stone or wood, for example) as this impacts the thermal comfort of the occupant depending on the season. Other factors for consideration include insulating the building structure and using thermally efficient windows as this reduces heat loss in winter and avoids heat gain in summer.

See –Visual Comfort

A visual connection to the outside world through exterior views is crucial for an optimal sense of wellbeing. Working in a window-less office, even under adequate lighting conditions, is a totally different experience to working in an office with an outside view. Abundant scientific studies record the positive impacts of the latter on mood, job satisfaction and productivity. In offices with good natural light, call processing was 6 -12% faster, in schools, mental function and memory was 10 -25% better and in hospitals those with access to natural light had an 8.5% shorter stay than those who didn’t.

Hear – Acoustic Comfort

Research has shown that well-designed sound environments in offices or schools help to improve concentration and enable better communication. Learning is more effective and less tiring when students can comfortably hear and understand their teacher. In hospitals, reducing the stress and sleeplessness created by high noise levels helps patients recover faster and facilitates the work of the staff. In our homes, protection from noise contributes to a sense of security and privacy.

When we are acoustically comfortable, we are more productive, happier and experience fewer health issues. Whenever we’re designing or renovating a new space, we need to carefully consider a number of factors in the context of the building’s current function and use, as well as the requirements of future occupants.

Breathe – Indoor Air Comfort

The fresher the air we breathe, the healthier we feel in the buildings in which we live, work and play. Yet we don’t often think about air quality as a factor in building design. Dust, mold and pollen can quickly reduce the quality of the air we breathe inside a building, and many everyday products contain chemicals that can cause sensory irritation.

Good design, proper ventilation and specification of the right building materials are essential to increase the supply of fresh air in a building, and to reduce exposure to indoor pollutants and odours.

“Comfort considerations should be one of the primary factors when building or renovating, and while comfort is being increasingly recognized as a key priority in construction and development, there is still significant scope for this concept to be embraced. Multi Comfort solutions can help to reduce operating and maintenance costs, while buildings constructed to these standards also have the potential to command better rental or sales prices.  By factoring these different elements into the design and the structure of the building, we are creating living and working spaces that truly transcend across every one of the human senses,” Szpunar concludes.

SAPOA raises concerns on property rates

On Tuesday 26 June 2018, the City of Joburg stated that: “The City of Johannesburg has taken a decision not to increase the property rates tariffs for 2018/2019.”

SAPOA is concerned that although the City makes the statement above, the City is not disclosing how the new values will impact on the rates. Although the tariffs remained the same, the values of most of properties increased and will therefore result in an increase in monthly rates.

What the article is not saying is that, from July 2018, property rates will be calculated on the values in the new valuation roll (GV2018). The impact on the monthly rates account will be based on the new value for each property.

The GV2018 consists of 879 005 rateable properties within the boundaries of the Johannesburg Greater Municipality and is valid for the period 1 July 2018 to 30 June 2022.

The increase in monthly property rates for business and commercial properties on rates accounts in July 2018 will reflect the increase in the value of the property.

If the new value of a property is 50% higher than the old value, monthly rates from July 2018 will also increase by 50%. The impact on residential properties is softened by the increase in the rebate threshold from R200 000 to R350 000. The effect of the threshold will however be watered down where high property values are concerned as well as where lower-valued properties’ values were substantially increased.

A further concern is that the City of Johannesburg is budgeting for an increase of 12,1% in the income from property rates for 2018/2019. This increase is more than double the CPI. Property rates tariffs could have been reduced if the increase in income was kept within the CPI.

SAPOA has appointed its team of consultants, Rates Watch, to interrogate the municipal valuations and municipal rates and to provide an impact and analysis it will have on its members.

Disputed Municipal Valuations
Earlier this year SAPOA raised its concerns with the City of Johannesburg relating to the manner in which the City will be implementing its new valuations, where such valuations are disputed by property owners. The City has subsequently released statements which have partially addressed our concerns.  The current position is set out below.

The new valuations have been implemented with effect from 1 July, 2018 and are included in Municipal invoices from that date.  Where ratepayers have raised bona fide objections to their proposed new valuations, they may not simply stop paying rates on their properties completely.  The City has clearly stated that, in such circumstances, ratepayers need not pay rates on the new disputed valuations but must at least pay rates based either on the old valuations or on the valuations which the ratepayers themselves are proposing for their properties. Furthermore, if they do so, the City has confirmed that it will not initiate credit management processes against such ratepayers, provided that their accounts were not in arrears as at 30th of June 2018.

The City has stated that “where an objection to the new property valuation is declined, any outstanding rates on the property arising from the valuation will become due and payable immediately.”  This statement does not address the situation of an appeal.  SAPOA has informed the City of the legal position that, in the case of an appeal, the ratepayer is permitted by law to continue paying rates based on the old valuation or the ratepayers own proposed valuation until such time as the appeal is also finalized.  We will be seeking confirmation on this from the City.

The City has also not addressed our concern relating to interest. We have pointed out to the City that, upon final resolution of valuation disputes, the law does not permit municipalities to charge interest on any shortfall in rates payable by the ratepayer.  In a media statement dated 15 April, 2018, Mayor Herman Mashaba stated that the City would be charging interest in such cases.  Subsequent statements by the City have been silent on this aspect. We will also be raising this with the City.

Sasol head office future-proofs tech for the long term

Working in partnership with Sasol’s Information Management Services (IMS) to develop and deliver an integrated IT solution for its new head office in Sandton, professional services company Turner & Townsend has helped Sasol create a world-class workspace not only for today, but also for the future.

Turner & Townsend’s role was to bridge the information gap between the building developer and Sasol’s IMS team, ensuring that the base build met the IT requirements for now and well into the future.

Says Turner & Townsend’s Hendrik Engelbrecht, who project managed the information and communication technology project: “This major project is geared to meet Sasol’s present and future requirements as well as allow for global standardisation across the business.  Notably, it provides the capacity to grow the network seamlessly, as the workforce increases. The thinking, planning and decisions made in terms of technology for the building are based on agile working principles, connectivity at the core, flexibility, scalability and the requirement to reduce real estate costs and operational risk.

“It incorporates a high speed fibre optic, wide area network (WAN) to facilitate connectivity to services hosted externally to the Katherine Street premises and designed to provide the highest possible level of wireless saturation and coverage throughout the building, which includes all basement levels.

“Technology, such as the latest CAT 7 cables, has been installed to allow Sasol to create an expandable and flexible cabling system that in the long run will save them the expense and time of having to re-wire for new features in the future. In addition, two independent links to different network providers were installed to ensure service availability and resilience, with the total bandwidth capacity of 900 Mb intelligently managed with traffic balanced across the network links.”

The new headquarters accommodate approximately 3 500 of Sasol’s staff who relocated from         17 previous locations. Turner & Townsend were initially appointed to undertake a review of future technology aspirations and new ways of working – considered as part of the consolidation into a single location.

Says Engelbrecht: “As a result, a holistic and sophisticated IT enablement strategy was devised and presented, demonstrating how business requirements can be achieved through cohesive implementation of specific technology solutions.

“Importantly, during the design stage, we then needed to confirm that the IT design complied with the physical building design and that the network in the new building tied into and integrated with Sasol’s existing global solution.

“During implementation we interacted directly with the property developer and contractor to ensure the build complied with Sasol’s specification. Then in the final stages we oversaw the relocation of staffs’ technology from screens to phones, and docking stations, assisting with first line of resolution and troubleshooting as all the staff settled in at their new workstations.

“We also needed to interface constantly with Sasol’s own Project Management Office, taking on the role of Sasol IT’s representative to make sure the IT was well considered and fully integrated from start to finish.”

The core of the network resides in the building’s 500sqm central equipment room, while each floor besides the ground and first floor has three independent satellite equipment rooms providing localised connectivity. Other key features of the project include a distributed antennae system for high speed 4G (LTE) connection to all Vodacom users throughout the building and a cloud-based Cisco telephony solution which includes workspace and meeting room conference phones.

The project also incorporates security features such as access control, CCTV and alarm monitoring, a parking navigation and guidance system providing motorists with real-time information which reduces the average time to park, a walk-in IT service centre for users who require assistance, and cutting edge audio visual technology for integrated and automated meeting and teleconference rooms.

Says Johanna Malan, Lead Enterprise Information Management & Information Security, for Sasol: “The technology implemented is cost effective and all the technology solutions support the overall Green Rating of the building.

“As a global chemicals and energy player with a high performing and mobile workforce, the selection of flexible technology solutions that allow for future growth while delivering on immediate requirements was the imperative.“




Modern businesses are beginning to uncover how visual analytics can be used to discover hidden relationships in simple and complex data. Why does this have such a resounding impact? It provides the key to unlock powerful insights, meaning businesses can make better-informed decisions, faster, while experiencing incredible business benefits.

As South Africa Qlik Master Reseller (SAQMR), a subsidiary of the EOH Group, prepares to host its annual conference – the Southern Africa Qlik Summit 2018 – it is encouraging businesses, partners, customers and consumers to join the conversation. With a view to exploring the journey from data to insights, the Summit will be held at the Sandton Convention Centre in Johannesburg, on the 9th of July 2018.

The event will feature a Solution Expo Event, expert guest speaker Dion Chang will deliver the keynote address; ‘Through the Looking Glass’, EOH and SAQMR executives will address the audience, and local celebrity Danny K will act as the Master of Ceremonies.

International Qlik representatives will bring thought provoking presentations, allowing guests to look beyond African innovation and, instead, begin to embrace the global pace of digital disruption. With specialist panel discussions, breakaway sessions and cocktail sundowners, delegates will be sure to leave the Summit with the knowledge and passion needed to take their own businesses forward on the data to insights journey.

“Qlik’s Vice President, Industry Solutions & Business Value, David Bolton will be presenting on the topic of ‘Digital Transformation in the Analytics Economy’. Jordan Morrow, Global Head of Data Literacy, Qlik, will detail ‘The Rise of Data Literacy’, explaining why this is a critical component for the business of the future,” confirms SAQMR Managing Director, James Hickman. “Paul Winsor (Global Senior Director Industry Solutions, EMEA Region, Qlik) and Niall Gallacher (Global Director Market Development, Qlik) will also share inspirational business transformation stories from around the world’.”

The breakaway sessions will cover various aspects of data analytics in different industries and applications. From shifting the retail landscape into the third generation of analytics, to data in the financial services industry; global innovation in public sector and healthcare analytics; enterprise transformation; global information alignment; and quantifying true customer product profitability – every business will benefit from the insights to be shared at the Summit.

“We strive to take businesses from analytics to insight, whether on-premise or in the cloud. Data visualisation is critical in the big data world,” concludes Hickman. “This will be the topic of discussion at the Southern Africa Qlik Summit, sponsored by B2IT, Decision Inc., Expeditus, Insight Consulting, Inteleqt, KPI Management Solutions, Modernising Management, Synergy, TRG, and Cloudera.”


Johnson Controls’ YMAA chillers and YMPA heat pumps ramp up the competition in the entry-level chiller segment

The high price tag of even entry-level chillers has made this market segment very competitive. Johnson Controls’ Amichi Series of Chillers and Heat Pumps, introduced to the South African market just six months ago, offers a high value option, featuring a technology stack and performance that is hard to beat.

With capacities of 45kW up to 260kW it’s a great fit for the local mid capacity segment. More importantly, in terms of immediate capital cost concerns and long-term value, it marries the price benefit of a scroll chiller with the increased control a direct current (DC) inverter for better performance through a wider operating envelope.

Some proof:

  • The YORK Amichi Series Air Cooled Scroll DC Inverter Chillers (YMAA model) and Heat Pumps (YMPA model) offer high levels of efficiency and performance and the smallest footprint across the widest capacity range on the market.
  • The YMAA leads the scroll and screw market in part load efficiency and the YMAA/YMPA gets the best sound performance in the market with no efficiency compromise.
  • The Amichi range meets or exceeds the requirements for the Ecodesign regulations for heat pumps, comfort chillers and process chillers through an optimised combination of YORK efficiency-enhancing technologies.

Says Neil Cameron, Johnson Controls Area General Manager, Building Efficiency – Africa, “These chillers provide an excellent fit as a solution for new builds, technology refreshes and retrofits in manufacturing and commercial facilities of up to 2 000 m2. They are also especially useful as dedicated solutions for data centres that demand 24×7 operation and cooling.”

“This solution competes with increasingly popular HVAC Variable Refrigeration Flow (VRF) solutions. While the VRF solutions have a lower price tag but are more complex to install. The Amichi range brings high performance beyond typical chiller efficiency levels, as well as advanced controls.”

“And there’s no compromise on efficiency – the series can maintain efficiency in a variety of conditions without kits, down to an impressive -17.8°C ambient in cooling mode, and -15°C ambient in heating mode.”

The YORK Amichi Series comprises nine packaged models of its cooling-only version, the YMAA; and nine packaged models of its reversible heat pump version, YMPA. The series uses R410A refrigerant and offers capacities from 45kW up to 260kW. Units will be held in stock by Johnson Controls with target lead times of between one and three weeks.

About Johnson Controls

Johnson Controls is a global diversified technology and multi industrial leader serving a wide range of customers in more than 150 countries. Our 117,000 employees create intelligent buildings, efficient energy solutions, integrated infrastructure and next generation transportation systems that work seamlessly together to deliver on the promise of smart cities and communities. Our commitment to sustainability dates back to our roots in 1885, with the invention of the first electric room thermostat.  We are committed to helping our customers win and creating greater value for all of our stakeholders through strategic focus on our buildings and energy growth platforms. For additional information, please visit http://www.johnsoncontrols.com or follow us @johnsoncontrols on Twitter.

Smart buildings need smart security

Smart buildings, which allow us to remotely monitor, control and change our work environment, are the new normal for work spaces. The rationale behind the smart office, smart store or smart factory is to improve productivity, control costs, facilitate inventory management, allow remote monitoring and diagnosis of equipment and even reduce the need to perform mundane functions.

From HVAC to cyber security, the demands for – and of – smart buildings are being refined. This, however, means that owners are often faced with tricky decisions about upgrades and retrofits. A 2015 Honeywell survey indicated that 51% of building operators valued safety and security over any other advantage offered by smart buildings, indicating that this should be one of the first areas to look at, says Mohammad Meraj Hoda, Vice-President: Business Development at Ring.

“Smart buildings can be designed to feature a robust fire system and emergency communication control, while also offering health and life safety systems, along with the essential ability to monitor them. Surveillance and intrusion detection can also help building operators to detect unusual activity that could indicate a threat to personnel or information,” he explains.

Hoda adds that smart security is essential to the operation of a smart building. “The big advantage in smart security systems is the reduced cost of monitoring. In most cases, the person responsible for security can make the call on whether to summon police or take other security measures based on the alerts they get from their security system, which should be recording and/or transmitting video.”

Smart security systems can run the gamut from a smoke detector to 24-hour video monitoring, with price points to match. “Fortunately, some highly effective security systems are very affordable. Ring, for example, provides real-time monitoring and alarms to any number of authorised smartphones at a fraction of the cost of many other Wi-Fi enabled security systems,” Hoda says.

Historically, alerts have been transmitted via a telephone landline to a monitoring station. There is always a risk that the phone lines will be down in an emergency, and a good system should offer notification through cellphone networks and the Internet. Similarly, wired video systems are reliant on the power being on, but this may not be the case in an emergency. Wired video systems are also more expensive than wireless systems due to the added costs for materials and installation.

Smart security systems should automatically trigger video recording and/or transmission when a threshold event has occurred, such as motion detection. This includes taking, storing, or sending images and video as well as allowing you to control the camera from your phone.

“Providing security in commercial buildings involves more than just selecting the right products and features. Phones have become an increasingly useful tool in our lives, and mobile remote monitoring leads to better security and awareness by allowing a number of authorised people to immediately react to an alert. Today’s smart systems provide a wide variety of benefits including keeping would-be intruders away from the property, limiting access to facilities that store expensive equipment, and remotely monitoring secluded areas to reduce the risk of crime,” Hoda says.

“As security system technology continues to improve, those responsible for facilities security can get more and more information sent to them in real time to keep them aware of what is happening in the spaces they’re responsible for keeping secure.”