The traditional model of brainstorming, networking and development within a confined space is rapidly evolving—the ‘boardroom’ has become the ’bored room’. More entrepreneurs and top senior execs are opting to work within an environment that suits their lifestyle and is conducive to better sharing of ideas, which will add real value to their respective businesses.
When looking at the information-technology and web-development space, the remote office is on the rise. There are so many people doing things differently in their respective businesses and industries, and each is adding innovation to how networking and brainstorming used to be seen. Yes, inspiration can (and does) hit as you’re halfway down a ski slope in the French Alps, as seen with #SnowClub15 in our previous issue—but other times, inspiration can strike over a simple (and effective) cup of coffee in the heart of South Africa’s economic hub.
The question then begs to be asked: Why coffee? “There’s the obvious connotation that developers love coffee and, while that’s mostly true, I think there’s another facet to it. Coffee is a great ice-breaker, and that’s a useful tool to have around when you’re faced with interacting with a bunch of people you’ve never met before. You now have two things in common: software development, and a caffeine addiction that’s not really an addiction because I can quit any time I want,” notes Fortuna.
One of the great things about C&C is that it’s in the middle of the day. “It’s such a great ‘palate cleanser’ for the traditional office that you can’t help but be inspired by the change of scenery, faces and subject matter,” says Fortuna. “There’s also something really magical about getting down to work in a coffee shop. The buzz around you is a strange motivator for you to roll up your sleeves and get coding too. In fact, a common favourite app among the developers there is Coffitivity [coffitivity.com], an app that mimics the sound of a coffee shop. Whenever I go to Code & Coffee, I always end up learning something new, and I’ve met some of the best and brightest developers in the community.
“For Zero One, Code & Coffee is indispensable. We believe in its ethos so thoroughly, and rely on it and other events like it, in order to understand the state-ofthe- art in tech, meet new and promising developers who could potentially work with us, and hear about opportunities for new business with potential partners.”
Ask any business owner, freelancer or entrepreneur: Staying connected when they’re out of the office is essential—and as is the case with Code & Coffee, being connected is a necessity. Coffee shops across South Africa (and around the world) are gearing up to provide an environment that is conducive for businesspeople to get work done and which will allow for effective networking opportunities. Accessing Wi-Fi is as easy as buying a cuppa at most coffee shops; malls around the country are ensuring customers have free access as they get their shopping done. Wherever you go, as an individual or a business, you’re connected.
“Coffee is a great ice-breaker, and that’s a useful tool to have around when you’re faced with interacting with a bunch of people you’ve never met before.”
Mike Wronski, founder of social-media analytics company, Fuseware, notes that the rise of digital-only business has contributed to this trend of working remotely, which allows an entire company to be run off a cloud-based environment—meaning brick-and-mortar offices are no longer a hard and fast requirement for a successful enterprise. “Today’s leaders need to be able to manage and communicate their team from anywhere in the world. Many executives and business owners spend a good deal of time travelling and out of the office, and need to learn to deal with managing a team remotely. By combining effective procedures and processes with a competent team that embraces high levels of accountability, it becomes fairly streamlined to travel and maintain business productivity,” he says.
As the CEO of Fuseware, Wronski’s role involves managing all aspects of business operations—which can be, and is, a highly strenuous and demanding position. Working outside of the office and on overseas trips is possible when combined with strict time management and intensive prior planning. “Wi-Fi access is available from almost anywhere in the developed world now, so it has become much easier to stay in touch with your co-workers around the world. Many business owners are also making certain lifestyle choices that enable them to travel for pleasure far more, while keeping their businesses running back home,” he says.
The very nature of how business is being conducted and how businesses are being run is changing daily. Barry Tuck, “The Guy Who Does Stuff” at Paton Tupper Digital ad agency, notes that digitisation makes business procedures and systems more efficient; that businesses across the board should be harnessing and using it to their advantage. “I reside in Durban, but have clients in Johannesburg, Cape Town, the Free State, London, Lagos, Nairobi, Abidjan and a host of other African countries, so I travel frequently.
I spend over 50% of my time out of the office, yet am in constant contact with my team, clients and partners through mobile and digital channels. At Paton Tupper Digital, we make use of a myriad of tools and platforms to manage projects and ensure clear communication, even when working remotely,” he explains.
“As the world evolves, more tools and innovations are going to emerge to streamline business dealings; yet one of the biggest stumbling blocks in this regard is internal bureaucratic red tape, especially in big corporates,”
The adoption and implementation of new systems and digital platforms, which can lead to increased efficiency, trim costs and raise profitability, in some instances have been met with major obstacles by internal stakeholders.
In an age when entire industries are being disrupted by technological innovations, it’s essential that businesses—big or small—embrace the game-changing opportunities that, as Tuck puts it, “could at best transform their businesses, and at worst save them from becoming obsolete”.