BY Fast Company 3 MINUTE READ

These days, the pace of life online is now met by an equal expectation for work-life balance becoming both a health and success imperative. South African estates, and not just inner cities, are waking up to the demand.

To keep up with this shift in the work-life dynamic, it is imperative for people to have environments and opportunities that allow for enriched working behaviours and deeper control over the work/life balance. It lies in creating spaces that allow for people to explore their own ways of working while giving them the tools they need to work more efficiently.

With up to 75% of the workforce by 2025 estimated to be taken-up by the millennial generation, many leaders are starting to redefine what work-life balance looks like. In South Africa, the rise of the residential estate may be unique to the climate and culture, but it also introduces a unique opportunity. It is a chance to blend the stylish and secure living environment featuring lush scenery, running trails, bike tracks, lakes and typically beautiful South African vistas, with flexible and dynamic workspaces that allows access to home and business on demand. Instead of employees leaving their estates, sitting in stressful traffic, arriving in traditional offices, dealing with traditional workplace stress, and sitting in traffic to return home, they simply walk across the road.

It’s a concept that has clear precedent in the rising trend of people working remotely or small businesses adopting flexible workspaces as their professional base of operations. It just takes the idea one step further. Imagine going to work without having to dodge taxis and 4x4s – instead, the commute is a short cycle or stroll across gardens and landscapes to an open, flexible workspace on the residential estate, but designed for the professional business and person by providing immediate access while supporting mindfulness. 

Burnout has become an officially recognised disease, defined by the World Health Organization (WHO) in its International Classification of Diseases database in 2019 and cemented as an accepted condition affecting the lives of employees and the productivity of organisations. Described as a syndrome, WHO says burnout comes about from ‘chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed’. 

The first Chief Mindfulness Officer (CMO) was appointed in the USA in 2015 and one of the world’s most high-powered law firms, Dentons, appointed their own CMO early in 2019, with Amazon, Nike and Google also hot on the mindfulness trail. The goal is to create workspaces that are conducive to productivity while reducing stress and improving quality of life. These mindfulness officers and the mindfulness programs used by many organisations share specific qualities. They focus on where you eat, on physical exercise, on meditation, and on visually appealing spaces. They also have proven results in building confidence, enhancing decision making, creating stronger teams, and driving positive wellbeing. 

In Somerset West, a new development Eastwood at Somerset Lakes, is introducing a concept called the Eastwood Club that blends secure estate living with bike tracks, running trails, picnic spots and lakes with the modern requirements of the thriving business. The Club has hot desks, boardrooms, fibre connectivity and workspaces with views, it is also within travelling distance of homes and entertainment areas that allow for people to take a break in natural surroundings. Managers, gig economy workers, entrepreneurs and startups can all use the space to build their businesses while simultaneously achieving that elusive work/life balance. Over and above affordability, tenants can network, run, cycle, meditate, and enjoy meals in an area that’s known for its outstanding natural beauty. They can also do so without traffic, fighting for parking, wrestling with politics around the half-empty water cooler, and the stress that comes with the daily commute. Prices start at R850 000.

As more and more organisations become aware of the importance of providing the right working conditions for their employees, estates that provide this level of holistic living and working are opening new opportunities. Many South African businesses are entrenched in traditional systems and processes, but as science steadily gains confidence within the corporate arena, attitudes will change and workplace trends will adapt. Defined as the workplace of the future, estates are now creatively integrating business hubs to provide residents with secure, relevant and modern working spaces, becoming a mark of innovative spirit for locals which caters for work and professional lifestyle living at its best.