Policy exemption allows SA investors to buy into Swiss property

Q&A with property expert Toni Enderli

South Africans can now buy property in Switzerland. Why couldn’t we before?

Switzerland has strict restrictions for foreigners buying property, so depending on your background, your options were limited in that you could only buy property in Switzerland if you were an EU or EFTA national with a Swiss residence permit or if you lived in Switzerland.

Now, at Andermatt Swiss Alps, South Africans seeking to diversify their investment portfolios can buy property in Switzerland for the first time, with significant tax incentives, highly attractive tax returns and with very little red tape. The process to own property can take as quick as one week to conclude.

What makes the ski resort Andermatt different? Why is it so attractive to SA investors?

Andermatt is one of the world’s most sought-after, affordable, safe and secure, year-round property investment destinations. The development is exempt from regulations restricting foreign investors from buying property in Switzerland and buyers also benefit from attractively low tax rates. The Swiss government has declared Andermatt exempt from restrictive property acquisition laws. In addition, all Andermatt’s apartments are exempt from the Swiss Second Home Law, which limits the construction of second homes to 20% of the number of homes in a village.

Other attractions include one of Europe’s best ski and hiking facilities, a championship 18-hole golf course, a fitness and wellness centre, mountain biking, top quality restaurants and luxury hotels, apartment buildings, chalets and shopping facilities. The village centre is a car-free zone, contributing to a harmonious community environment.

How does investing in Andermatt compare to investing in comparative property in SA. Surely it’s much more expensive over there?

Pricing in Andermatt is on par with certain property on Cape Town’s Atlantic seaboard and at the V&A Waterfront. The resort offers full turn-key investments in one-bedroom apartments from around R5-million, all fully managed and serviced by the Radisson Blu group with a guaranteed net 3% annual return. Luxury chalets start from about R90-million, similar to the cost of some luxury apartments in the Waterfront. The apartments range from studio to five bedrooms. The majority are one or two-bedroom units in a variety of sizes while several of the larger units are maisonettes.

How can a SA investor, thousands of kilometres away, be sure the investment is secure and that the property will not be damaged or abused?

The resort offers comprehensive turn-key investments, fully managed and serviced by the Radisson Blu group. Owners are recommended to rent out their apartments to generate an income and great returns. Andermatt takes care of and services the property while owners are away.

What is the future of the SA property market – does the current land policy uncertainty mean we shouldn’t invest here until there’s more clarity? 

Diversifying mitigates risk and is a common practice the world over. This is why Americans, Europeans and others are flocking to Andermatt. In an unstable global economy, Switzerland is a popular safe-haven for investors due to its political neutrality, policy stability, strong currency and low levels of inflation and unemployment. South Africans can now invest in this stable year-round destination for the first time, easily. It’s a great legacy investment for families as there are no death duties. Andermatt provides property opportunities for both high end and middle class investors and the process from signing to name change can take as little as one week to complete.

 

 

Five-point security plan to secure business premises

Security remains an issue in South Africa as crime levels continue to pose safety risks. Keeping your premises safe by means of security service requires a multi-faceted approach. It’s not only about ensuring your valuables are safe, it’s also about creating a safe space for people to visit and trade. This five-point plan (designed by a professional security company) covers each of our five senses, representing eyes and ears on the ground.

Assess your risks

Criminals have developed the ability to spot opportunity where the rest of us wouldn’t. A professional draws from experience, they have worked with many people who have experienced trespassers, burglaries, and other forms of crime. This has given them insight into the way criminals think and operate, where they see opportunity and how to deter incidences.

CCTV  ̶  eyes open

CCTV is capable of wirelessly feeding footage to you from the filmed location to you, anywhere in the world, in real time. CCTV cameras deter criminal activity and provide valuable evidence, should it be needed.

Alarm systems and beams  ̶  ears to the ground

Access Control  ̶  stay in touch

Only authorised persons are able to enter, and a record of all entries and their times is also kept. Touch is our tactile sense, it gives us a feel for our environment. Access control ensures only people you trust can enter and get a feel for your premises.

Guarding  ̶  the muscle

Security service guards with training will know how to evaluate each person entering a property and at which point to report suspicious activity. You can’t beat the eyes and ears of a human (trained and passionate) that’s present.

Other services to consider:

  • Corporate, retail, industrial and residential guarding services.
  • Residential and cluster guarding (estate).
  • Alarm monitoring and armed response.
  • Roaming area patrols.
  • Weighbridge control.
  • Receiving and dispatch control.
  • Checking functions of Reception functions – visitor control.

 

 

Unfinished business: what to do when construction halts due to a contractor’s liquidation

By Diana Burger, senior associate, Bowmans

The past year has been challenging for South Africa’s construction industry, with some of the country’s best-known construction companies facing business rescue or liquidation. The unfinished business left behind when this occurs can be problematic for project employers in the private and public sectors alike. Although their options are limited, the financial exposure for employers can be mitigated through immediate action, says Diana Burger, senior associate in Bowmans’ Construction Dispute Resolution Department. Here are the crucial steps to take.

Step one – Await the liquidator’s decision: As a general rule, liquidation does not suspend or put an end to a contract. Once a final liquidation order has been made, the appointed liquidator steps into the shoes of the liquidated contractor and must either abide by or repudiate any pending contracts. More than likely, a partly finished construction contract will be repudiated by the liquidator (due to factors such as a lack of expertise) and consequently terminated by the employer, unless there is an extremely good prospect that the project can be viably completed by the liquidator in terms of its obligations under the contract. The liquidator must make such decisions within a reasonable period, which is determined by the specific facts of each contract and the provisions of the contract.

Step two – Principal agent to prepare the final account: If the liquidator repudiates the contract, the employer will be entitled to terminate the contract. In this event, the principal agent or engineer generally needs to prepare a final account, to determine whether the employer owes monies to the liquidated contractor or vice versa. The starting point is for the independent principal agent or engineer to conduct a detailed valuation of the works and prepare a final account in respect of the works executed by the liquidated contractor.

Step three – The valuation: The principal agent or engineer must inspect the works on site to quantify the work that has been completed, the outstanding work and any damages for purposes of preparing a final account. Damages could include penalties associated with any delays in completion of the works, defective work (work not done according to specifications) and outstanding work, among other things. Quantification is necessary for any claim that the employer intends to lodge against the liquidated contractor’s estate or that the liquidated estate may pursue against the employer.

Step four – Start appointing a new contractor: The employer needs to appoint a new construction contractor to complete the construction project and should therefore call for quotes or put out a competitive tender, depending on the procurement process required. The contractors taking part in the bidding process will generally visit the site themselves to do their own assessments and quantifications of the work to be executed and submit their quotes or bids.

Employers should be aware that if there is scope creep (in addition to the original scope of work), the additional work required can be included in the bid documents for pricing by the new contractors but the price accepted for the additional work cannot be part of any claim against the liquidated contractor.

A contractor’s quote or bid accepted by the employer for completion of the liquidated contractor’s outstanding work could be useful in accurately quantifying the additional costs the employer may incur in relation to the outstanding works, for inclusion in a potential claim against the liquidated contractor’s estate.

Step five – Claim against liquidated estate: In the event of an uncompleted project, the bulk of the claim amount that the employer may have against the liquidated estate relates to the additional costs that the employer will incur for the appointment of a new contractor. It is invariably more expensive to appoint a new contractor to pick up from where a previous contractor left off, as the site has to be established all over again and the cost of materials will almost certainly have increased in the interim. However, employers should not pin their hopes on receiving a full claim payout.

For one, the liquidated entity probably has very limited means to repay creditors. For another, the employer whose construction project has ground to a halt is probably one of many creditors hoping to be paid. Under liquidation law, employers will be on an equal footing with other concurrent creditors and will not receive any preferential treatment, regardless of what the terms of the construction contract provide.

While it will be cold comfort for employers who have already seen their contractors go out of business, the best advice for any employer contemplating a construction project is to do proper due diligence before the appointment of a contractor and commencement of the project. Financial difficulties on the part of a contractor seldom begin overnight and employers who properly assess the financial situation of prospective contractors are less likely to find themselves contending with a half-finished building and mounting construction costs.

Is your building safe from fire?

Reprinted with permission by www.instrumentation.co.za

Fire safety in high-occupancy buildings is critical. Large numbers of people produce greater activity within these environments, which can lead to things going wrong. In particular, fire can escalate quickly into a catastrophe. This eventuality needs to be confronted in the design and protection of buildings and their occupants.

Smoke inhalation too can be fatal. Smoke visually obscures escape routes that can prevent fast and safe evacuation. It also inhibits the performance of fire rescue responders. These are just some of the dangers surrounding fire within high-occupancy buildings that place hard emphasis on early detection of fires and alerting occupants to the threat.

Fire sensing methods

The traditional method of sensing fire is to detect smoke by means of light obscuration within a sensing chamber. This is known as optical smoke sensing. However, there are challenges to sensing fires within rooms in high occupancy buildings using such methods. This is because of the human activity that occurs within these areas. Often bedroom applications result in unwanted fire alarms with many people believing that the smoke detector is too sensitive.

This is not the case. Spraying of aerosols such as deodorants, hair sprays or air fresheners mimic the obscuration caused by smoke. Similarly steam from showers can also do this. The key is to separate these unwanted phenomena from a genuine fire, while providing an early and stable alarm signal.

Alien Systems & Technologies utilises Protec 6000PLUS detectors that can discriminate between aerosols, steam and genuine smoke by utilising multi-sensor technology governed by an algorithm that makes the fire alarm decision. These detectors must have all three fire phenomena present – smoke, a rise in temperature and a rise in carbon monoxide.

Testing shows that even with hot steam or aerosols, the problem of unwanted alarms is solved. For example, in one such test steam was allowed to fill a Perspex test chamber with three detectors present: an optical detector, an optical/heat detector and an optical/heat/CO detector. The steam filled the test chamber and after approximately 35 seconds the optical detector produced a fire alarm. The test was allowed to run for a period of five minutes and the other two detectors ignored the steam and did not produce any fire alarms.

In a following test, steam was used to fill the Perspex chamber and after approximately 40 seconds the optical detector produced a fire alarm. Then after one minute, a small smouldering piece of towel is placed within a test chamber with the steam still present to simulate a small fabric fire that is common in a bedroom. After another minute, the optical/heat/CO detector produced a fire alarm because it sensed a genuine fire was present.

This is because it sensed the obscuration of light, a rise in temperature and a relatively high amount of carbon monoxide and the algorithm monitoring the sensor was able to make an accurate decision that a genuine fire was present. The optical/heat detector produced a fire alarm one minute afterwards.

Correct selection of detectors is vital

These tests show that the selection of fire alarm detectors in buildings is vital to prevent unnecessary evacuations from erroneous fire alarms. The disruption to occupants as well as the fire brigade is severe. Such unwanted alarms can lead to apathy, which then further increases the risk.

Detectors avoid this scenario as only genuine fires are sensed, and sensed early. There are also enhancements that can be added to the detector range. Programmable speech messages can also be added over and above standard audible tones. This allows for clear fire alarm evacuation commands to be broadcast without the need for extra annunciators.

 

South Africa: Why co-working? IWG plc – Regus and Spaces

Prepared exclusively for CIPN

Co-working spaces have grown in popularity over the last few years, and it is no surprise that many companies are now exploring the option of moving their business into the hub of a dynamic co-working environment. But what exactly is co-working? Typically, co-working allows entrepreneurial-spirited companies, teams and individuals the freedom to work in a collaborative environment.

  1. Why is demand for flexible workspace increasing in South Africa? There are three principle reasons why more people are using flexible workspaces:
  • Digitalisation and new technologies
  • Better connectivity means everyone is connected digitally
  • People are more mobile and can access their work from anywhere
  • Artificial intelligence, automation and cloud technologies are changing the nature of work
  • People want the benefits of flexible working
  • Geographic benefits – the choice of where and how to work and live
  • A better work-life balance, ie easier access to good workspace either close to home or close to where like-minded individuals are
  • Businesses want the financial and strategic benefits
  • Financial benefits:
  • Outsourcing of corporate real estate is replacing insourcing to create a more flexible on-demand model for businesses resulting in lower start-up costs
  • Strategic benefits:
  • Increased speed to market
  • Increased productivity
  • Collaborative communities and networking
  • Attract and retain talent
  1. What are the latest trends in terms of co-working?

Demand is accelerating:

  • Up to 30% of corporate real estate portfolios could be flexible workspace by 20301

Note: The commercial real estate market is currently worth about $29 trillion2

  • The flexible workspace industry itself is projected to tally a nearly 24% compound annual growth rate between 2016 and 20203
  • Over the past decade the global market for flexible offices has been growing at an average of 13% per annum4

Business benefits:

71% of occupiers believe that productive and flexible workspaces are vital to delivering corporate real estate objectives, up from 57% in 2016

  • 84% believe flexible workspace disruption is a permanent trend4
  • The global mobile workforce is set to rise to 1,87 billion people in 2022, accounting for 42,5% of the global workforce5

Technology:

  • 80% of the world’s adult population will own a smartphone by 20206
  • Over 50% of internet traffic could come from internet of things sensors by 20257
  • Public cloud services spending will increase by 20,4% CAGR between 2015 to 20208
  • Global data centre IP traffic per year will be 10,4 zettabytes in 2019, up from 3,4 in 20149
  • 4G connections will represent 61% of the total by 2020 (up from 34% in 2016)
  • 5G connections will represent 31% of the total by 2025

Personal productivity:

  • 69% of millennials will trade other work package benefits for better workspace10
  • 53% of professionals globally now work remotely for at least half their working week11
  • 64% believe flexible work hours improve productivity. 94% feel strict work hours do nothing to aid it12
  • Location-independent work has increased 103% since 200513
  1. What does the space have to offer?

INCREASED PERSONAL PRODUCTIVITY

  • Work how, where and when you require
  • Join a global community of 2,5 million like-minded professionals, access to networking knowledge sharing events
  • Find, manage and book workspace instantly, with easy-to-use apps

THE RIGHT SPACE FOR YOU

  • Benefit from national and global networks, with an unparalleled choice of ready-to-use office, co-working and meeting spaces
  • Access business-leading, cloud-based and secure IT infrastructure, support and backup, Including high-speed internet, IP telephony, and on-demand solutions

GREATER FINANCIAL EFFICIENCY

  • Pay only for the space you need, a dedicated account manager and 24/7 customer service
  • Add or reduce workspace when you need to, without capital investment
  • Protect your investment with world-class infrastructure, physical and digital security, and back-office support from a proven global leader

MORE STRATEGIC BENEFITS

  • Operate anywhere in the world. Scale up and down quickly, and with ease. Be closer to your customers, suppliers and employees
  • Access national and global networks as you require
  • Attract, retain and engage employees
  • Members have access to our business clubs around the world
  1. Who is it designed for?

Corporates looking to establish a local office without massive capital outlay, start-ups, SMMEs, freelancers, remote working teams, international workers, project teams and well-established corporates, business travellers, call centres and entrepreneurs.

Sources:

  1. JLL research
  2. Savills Research
  3. Forbes 2017 (quoting Emergent Research)
  4. CBRE research, ‘The Flexible Revolution’, 2017
  5. Strategy Analytics
  6. Workspace, Reworked, JLL, 2017
  7. Workspace, Reworked, JLL, 2017
  8. Worldwide Semiannual Public Cloud Services Spending Guide, IDC, 2016
  9. Cisco Global Cloud Index, 2014-2019
  10. The Flexible Revolution. Insights into European flexible office markets, CBRE, 2017
  11. The Workplace Revolution – a picture of flexible working 2017, Regus, 2017 – independent research
  12. Protein Audience Briefing 2016
  13. Global Workplace Analytics 2017 Location Independent – The Modern Way of Working

 

 

Growthpoint signs Altron for campus at The Woodlands

Growthpoint Properties has secured JSE-listed technology group Altron as tenant for a sizeable 29 000 m2 head office situated at The Woodlands Office park, in Woodmead, Sandton. Altron will take up occupancy at The Woodlands in November 2020 with the group’s nine operating companies under one roof, enabling greater efficiency, collaboration, innovation and cost-saving.

The space was occupied by Deloitte which left the park at the end of March 2020 to make way for Altron. Before the Altron group moved in, Growthpoint invested a significant amount to modernise, customise and connect eight buildings to Altron’s requirements.

Estienne de Klerk, CEO of Growthpoint South Africa, says, “We are pleased to sign a business of the high-calibre of Altron for The Woodlands and look forward to working closely with them. Growthpoint has secured a strong listed entity with a solid track record on a long lease, and accomplished this well before the Deloitte tenancy is up.”

Commenting on the move to a new campus encompassing all Altron’s businesses, Mteto Nyati, Altron group chief executive, said: “Our intention is to have a workplace that caters for our needs as the employer in creating an environment that promotes employee excellence through collaboration, creative thinking, visibility of leadership and the free flow of communication. We also want our workplace to meet the needs of our employees who don’t only want a modern workplace but appreciate additional lifestyle services such as on-site gym facilities, creche, concierge services and the like.”

Altron will occupy roughly a quarter of the 125 000 m2 office park, which offers a lifestyle centre incorporating a gym, Mugg & Bean and creche. The Woodlands is unique in that its tranquil setting includes its very own game park which is home to springbok, blesbok and other smaller animals.

A key feature of the Altron project is constructing a new walkway to create a spine linking all the buildings together. Growthpoint will also deliver a turnkey internal fit-out solution, beginning with a workplace study, to ensure the space is tailored for Altrons’s people and optimised for high performance. The upgraded campus is designed to receive a 4 Green Star SA rating from the Green Building Council of South Africa (GBCSA)  ̶  an independent certification of the campus’ resource  ̶   and cost-efficiency.

“We are happy to enhance our assets in the Woodlands as we are seeing demand in the node. Altron’s commitment to the Woodlands is a vote of confidence for the park, as well as for Woodmead as a whole,” adds De Klerk. Altron will relocate to its new premises in three phases; November 2020, March 2021 and April 2021.

About Growthpoint

Growthpoint is a leading international property company that provides space to thrive with innovative and sustainable property solutions. It is the largest South African primary listed REIT and included in the FTSE/JSE Top 40 Index. Growthpoint owns and manages a diversified portfolio of 512 property assets including 454 properties in South Africa, a 50% interest in the properties at V&A Waterfront, 57 properties in Australia through GOZ and 48 properties in Romania and Poland through its 29% share in LSE AIM-listed Globalworth Investment Holdings (GWI) and 21% holding in Warsaw-listed Globalworth Poland Real Estate (GPRE). Growthpoint is a constituent of the FTSE4Good Emerging Index and the FTSE/JSE Responsible Investment Index.

Africa’s Commercial Property Development shows much Promise

By Shevira Bissessor
Director, Commercial Sector, Buildings + Places

Africa remains one of the fastest growing economies of the world and there is no doubt that it has the greatest potential for commercial property development.

While governments and the private sector in various African countries work to overcome their unique or collective challenges to attract investment into infrastructure development and mobilise economic and social growth – there is no denying some facts staring us in the face.

And that is, according to the World Bank’s data, by 2040, the population in Africa will reach one-billion and most of this will take place in cities or in slums. Population growth in Africa will result in rapid urbanisation and the push to develop infrastructure on every level across all sectors with the aim to provide basic and improved services to all. With the focus on growing their economy and increasing the level of employment amongst Africa’s burgeoning youth population, commercial property development has significant potential to grow as a market across the continent.

From Narok and Kisumu in Kenya, to Moshi and Arusha in Tanzania, Accra in Ghana, Enugu (Nigeria) and Kigali in Rwanda, cities are not standing still as the World Economic Forum points out. These cities are pushing the boundaries in upgrades with regard to urban development, implementing smarter land use, while strengthening their environmental plans, as well as some countries taking up the 100 Resilient Cities Initiative.

Another great example is in South Africa, where the office market is currently at its highest that it has ever been in post-democratic South Africa as confirmed by JHI Properties in its South African Property Review and SAMCO Report 2017.

While the retail market has also shown growth in the country, we anticipate a decline in major malls being built in this country. However, there is a significant need for neighbourhood centres and regional convenience centres. The future of the retail space is driven by the digital era with most consumers looking for convenience with on-line shopping, which is envisaged to increase and will result in an increase for data centres and warehouses to support this.

But there is one city which increasingly remains ahead of the game – being one of Africa’s richest square miles with continuous growth –  and that is Sandton. Interestingly, a Money Marketing article alluded to “nearly half of the office development taking place in South Africa right now is happening in Sandton” – that is 48% of new offices. The article referenced the South Africa Property Owners Association’s Office Vacancy Survey for the fourth quarter of 2016.

Sandton is one of the most affluent areas in Johannesburg, one of the most significant financial and business districts and has significant appeal. This is why every commercial development needs to keep up with the culture and aesthetic appeal of the well-known city – the first place that many of our tourists touch down in order to get a taste of South Africa.

For the young professionals, Sandton has always been an attraction by providing the space to enjoy good food with its variety of upmarket restaurants, meeting venues and conference centres. Whether it’s enjoying an afternoon over coffee or director’s themselves ‘brewing’ strategic plans, Sandton’s skyline creates a great atmosphere to launch those brilliant ideas of the future. This is the ultimate address for every corporate for this very reason. It’s a great place that has spelt out the ‘live, work and play’ concept aggressively.

Return on investment, yields and location remain focus points and the success of any development. I recently delivered a lecture on ‘feasibilities’ as part of the Graduate School of Business’s Property Development Programme.  In my presentation, I referred to Sandton as a great textbook example highlighting the meaning of advanced economic growth and clear return on investment. Adding to this, with recoverabilitys being high on the agenda in measuring feasibility, multi-national brands continue to invest in this space.

One of the key projects that AECOM has worked on in Sandton is the flagship 129 Rivonia Road project. AECOM is providing full cost-management services for this mixed-use development. Developed by the Eris Property Group, the project is located on the old Village Walk site, on the south-western corner of Rivonia Road and Maude Street. It comprises two high-rise office towers of 13 and 18-storeys respectively (27 000 m2 and 35 000 m2). Tower 1 will have a 4 Green Star Built and Design rating, while Tower 2 will have a 5 Green Star rating.

Another amazing project that AECOM has worked on is the Old Mutual Head Office, where we able to offer our quantity surveying service on this 120 000 m2 multi-storey mixed use development.

Successful Property Developments

The success of any property development thrives on a combination of the professional team’s attitude, experience, instinct and lessons learnt from both victories and challenges. Commercial property development, can be very exciting, however maintaining focus, thinking out-of-the-box and always remaining one step ahead are vital to the success of any project.

It is also important to choose the right expertise and skills to bring your vision alive as a developer.  One of the key drivers is to ensure you create the correct concept – having self-virtualisation through this process while simulating and articulating it to become alive.

You need to take into consideration the future of buildings and infrastructure developments by keeping up to date with innovation, technology and smart buildings/cities; while embracing the digital era and place it high on your agenda along with sustainable buildings and global warming.

This will ensure a well-rounded development that can be ready to go live in the future. You have to choose the right company that can offer you this and a company that can live up to your imagination with the right capabilities and qualities which are all crucial to your future success.

 

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.

Objections
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.

Appeals
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.

Interest
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.