As we enter our third Covid year, new ways of living and working continue to emerge. Here we identify the top five for 2022.
1. FOUR-DAY WORKWEEK
To work to live, or to live to work, that is the question. With companies being forced to adopt different working models – including the big Work From Home experiment – since the pandemic began, there’s a strong drive globally that the traditional workplace is a thing of the past. Flexible working arrangements have become de rigueur with employees re-evaluating their options, with thousands even prepared to resign if their working conditions don’t suit them. In line with this workplace disruption comes the four-day workweek.
US magazine Fortune reports the trend gained momentum last month when 30 companies in the UK joined a six-month trial to test the shortened workweek. They form part of a growing list of American firms and countries like Japan, Ireland and Iceland, already part of the movement.
Joe Rye, director of the 4 Day Week Campaign in the UK, believes the Covid pandemic has "shown that the world of work can change very quickly” if need be. He says: “We invented the weekend a century ago and are long overdue for a four-day working week, which would benefit workers, employers, the economy, our society and our environment."
Currently, 81 Unilever New Zealand employees are testing the shortened week for a year and will share lessons. Panasonic Corp and Bolt, the ride-hailing company, also recently introduced four-day workweeks.
In a BBC report, Nick Bangs, head of Unilever New Zealand, says it's about "a holistic understanding of how work and life fit together and improving mental and physical wellbeing”. Panasonic Corp CEO Yuki Kusumi believes they need “to strike an ideal balance between the work style and lifestyle for our diverse human capital”.
What about South Africa? Are we ready to embrace a four-day workweek? Not quite, says Dion Chang of Flux Trends: “I think South African companies are still grappling with WFH and the ripple effect of that from here onwards, so baby steps will apply − especially for the more conservative companies that see a 09h00 to 17h00, 40-hour workweek as the holy template of office life.”
2. WORK IN 2022
The workplace disruption brought on by Covid-19 is likely to continue. Leaders who want their companies to thrive must keep on learning and adapt to prevailing trends including the following:
Vaccine mandates: Last year, the SA Government ruled out vaccine mandates and said it wouldn't interfere with policies that private employers introduce provided they are legal. This stance saw 16 large corporates, such as AngloAmerican, Aspen, BIG Concerts, Dis-Chem, Discovery, ENS Africa and Standard Bank, introducing vaccine policies. Currently, several South African universities are rolling out their mandates. This is likely to continue in 2022.
Hybrid work environments: “Flexibility around how, where, and when people work is no longer a differentiator, it’s now table stakes,” says the Harvard Business Review. This means companies who want to attract and retain talent must adapt as hybrid and remote work environments become the new normal.
Employee wellness: With Covid-19 impacting on workers’ mental health, wellness is a new barometer that companies will use to understand their employees. Harvard Business Review reports that a 2020 survey of 52 HR executives by Gartner, a firm that provides insights to executives and their teams, found that 94 % of companies made significant investments in their well-being programmes. It also found that 85 % increased support for mental health benefits while 50 % and 38 % increased support for physical and financial well-being, respectively.
Cape Town's to-be-constructed "biophilic" building, The Fynbos in Bree Street.
3. GREEN BUILDINGS
Green buildings were identified in the CCID’s 2019-20 City Views publication as a key urban central city trend driven by rising energy costs, load shedding and Cape Town’s 2018 water crisis, Day Zero. The move towards sustainability continues in the city centre and throughout the country.
Sandra Gordon, CCID research economist, says green buildings are going mainstream. “While Day Zero no longer applies, load shedding is a real threat, prompting investors to look for off-the-grid options, making the Cape Town CBD very appealing,” she says.
The Fynbos, Africa’s first biophilic development soon to be constructed in Upper Bree Street, is taking the concept of “green” to extraordinary levels and is set to be “a living, breathing building which blurs the lines between nature and the built environment”. To achieve a healthier built environment, it’ll include natural lighting and ventilation, 30 species of trees and 20 species of shrub, PV solar panels and balconies that allow for rainwater harvesting.
Redefine Properties, which counts The Towers in downtown Cape Town as one of its buildings, is another example. It announced in September last year that it certified/re-certified 40 buildings in its property portfolio under the Green Building Council South Africa’s (GBCSA) Green Star Existing Building Performance (EBP) rating tool – a milestone for green property in South Africa.
Other recent “green” CBD developments include commercial building, 35 Lower Long which has a 4-star Green Star rating by the GBCSA. Boxwood Property Fund’s The Felix, formerly Picbel Parkade, is another multi-use CBD building that’s currently being redesigned to be a 4-star Green-rated building. Then there’s Portside in Buitengracht Street which was completed in 2014. It’s the most prominent Green building in the city centre and holds a prestigious 5-star Green Star rating.
A room in the newly opened The Rockefeller on the Cape Town Foreshore.
4. HOTEL-STYLE LIVING
Hotels spell luxury and relaxation. Little wonder that staying at the really good ones is on everyone’s bucket list. With this in mind, hotel-style living is gaining traction in the Cape Town CBD thanks to mixed-use developments offering luxurious hotel-style living in beautiful buildings in prime locations. Here owner-occupiers, who purchase an apartment, benefit from hotel amenities such as restaurants and bars, modern gyms, co-working facilities, luxurious spas, room service, housekeeping and 24-hour concierge services.
The Rockefeller on the Foreshore is the latest example. According to the CCID’s recent article, Rise of the Rockefeller, there are 395 luxury apartments, including “hotel-style” apartments, selling from R1.515 million, and “long-stay” apartments, selling from R1.815 million. Newmark, the blue-chip hospitality company managing the property, “has integrated luxe hotelling with private residential living, ensuring that the high-end amenities satisfy the needs of both hotel guests and residents for long and short stays”. High-end amenities at the hotel include a double-volume lobby, 24-hour concierge and security, a fine-dining restaurant, rooftop studio bar and a dipping pool.
The Radisson Blu Hotel & Residence, with its 237 rooms, also offers this standard of living. Residents don’t only enjoy the downtown lifestyle and upscale services but have access to the hotel’s cocktail bar, coffee lounge and restaurant. This is also the case at The Onyx aparthotel in Heerengracht and The Duke on Fountain Circle.
United Landmark Associates, a US-based firm specialising in lead generation for real estate and luxury lifestyle brands, says peace of mind is a major selling point for hotel-style living as mixed-use developments are also managed and secured for seasonal residents, allowing them to enjoy a carefree lock-and-leave lifestyle.
The pandemic is another factor, according to United Landmark Associates. The organisation says when people had to limit their movements during quarantine and various lockdowns, those in “hotel residences” had most of their needs met thanks to onsite property management teams. “When investing in or buying a hotel residence, many buyers can experience a vacation or ‘staycation’ every day without the risk that could be associated with travel during a crisis like Covid-19.”
Cape Town has many plant-based restaurants for vegans and vegetarians.
5. PLANT-BASED FOOD
It’s a given: people are prioritising their health and wellness. This shift is the key driver behind the plant-based food revolution. While plant-based eating isn’t new, its global star is rising and has been accelerated by Covid-19.
UK magazine New Food reports that the pandemic has forced people to examine what’s important to them. As a result, “many consumers are reassessing what they eat and their impact on the planet”.
The trend is gaining ground in South Africa, too: a 2020 global report by Uber Eats ranks South Africa number five on the list of countries with the most-ordered vegan dishes. Healthy orders increased by 71 % during the hard lockdown in 2020, and orders made between January to October 2020 doubled compared with those in 2019.
In the Cape Town Central City, several restaurants are part of this movement, including Infinite Café (Commercial St), Bamboo Plant Power (1 Long St), Plant Café (Buiten St), The Poké Co. (Loop St), Honest Chocolate Café (Wale St) and Unframed Ice Cream at Local at Heritage Square.
The CBD will also host the first-ever Vegan and Plant-Powered Show in May 2022 at the Cape Town International Convention Centre and will comprise the latest products, demos from international and local celebrity cooks and chefs as well as over 120 exhibitors.
IMAGES: Infinite Cafe, The Fynbos, The Rockefeller