CEO of Cube Workspace, Wayne Windell is a Chartered Accountant with a post graduate diploma in Taxation Law from UCT. He is an experienced CEO with significant experience in the serviced office and co-working industry in South Africa. Prior to moving in to the serviced office industry, Wayne worked in various senior finance roles in both South Africa and Australia.
I had the privilege of asking Wayne 5 Questions.
A Chartered Accountant degree, in my mind, is by far the most versatile commercial qualification, which provides an entry point into most avenues of business. Most of the CAs I know do not work for accounting firms.
How did you transition from the world of auditing into the serviced office space and co-working industry?
After spending more than 5 years in Sydney in various global finance roles and significant work-related travelling, my family and I decided to return to Cape Town to be closer to family. With that came an opportunity to review the future and decide on what I wanted to do next.
I had consciously decided to focus on a smaller, more entrepreneurial role and the timing couldn’t have been better when the Cube Workspace opportunity arose. My CA background and international experience allowed me to quickly get to grips with the requirements of the role. In the first 6 months, I embarked on a restructuring and growth strategy to ensure the company was both commercially viable and operationally robust.
In the last few years, Cube Workspace has had phenomenal growth and currently has 5,700 square metres in Cape Town, 7,500 square metres in Johannesburg.
Please share some of your business philosophies, which you believe has contributed to its success.
Richard Branson said it best “Clients do not come first. Employees come first. If you take care of your employees they will take care of your clients”.
Cube Workspace is a serviced-office company and as such we commoditise service – much the same as the hospitality industry – in addition to providing a space in which to work. As such, service delivery and the overall experience is at the forefront of our strategy and values.
In order to deliver an excellent experience at Cube Workspace, we need employees who are motivated, dedicated and focused on the needs of our clients.
There has been a big international movement in the employer-employee relationship for a while now in terms of more flexible hours, more hot-desking and even coffee shop-desking. There is also talk of hybrid models arising. I hear of so many professionals who abandon the corporate ships in search of alternatives and then there’s the new working generation who don’t even get onto the corporate ship.
What is your trend forecast for this movement and what role do you see serviced offices such as Cube Workspace play in it?
My forecast is that the industry will grow significantly over the next 5 years. Serviced office and co-working is so much more than a movement, it’s the future of work and is fast becoming the norm for many.
The client base is incredibly diverse, in that 5 years ago, the majority of our client base was mostly made up of entrepreneurs and small businesses. However, as the industry has matured, we are seeing that large corporates are also grabbing hold of the opportunities the serviced office and co-working spaces have to offer. I believe that it is an attractive proposition, not only in terms the flexibility that it offers, but also that it allows business owners to focus on running their businesses instead of becoming tied down in the administration involved in managing an office environment.
Cube Workspace is currently the leading provider of premium serviced office space in South Africa and we will not only focus on retaining this title, but also on growing our brand internationally.
In mid 2017, Forbes Magazine predicted that by the end of 2017, nearly 1.2 million people worldwide will have worked in a co-working space. While 60% of all co-working spaces are not profitable, co-working has definitely been a huge trend in the last 10 years. To satisfy this growing trend of smaller, more flexible office space on a need to use basis, there are so many companies arising who offer this service.
How do you see the supply of the service evolving in South Africa and how do you ensure that your service remains simultaneously feasible and competitive?
Since the start of the Cube journey 5 years ago, I have seen incredible industry growth in South Africa with many new niche entrants to the market, as well as established players in the industry growing and cementing their spot at the top. That being said, the barrier to entry is high with significant capital expenditure required upfront and having to incur operating losses for the first couple of years.
I expect a consolidation to occur in the coming years and the following 3 scenarios to dominate the industry:
The larger, more established players in the industry strategically acquiring smaller companies;
A strategic merger of the smaller companies to create a larger company and utilise their merged infrastructure to grow and scale;
The large development companies wanting a piece of the serviced industry pie and forming joint ventures with the smaller players to bring the skills and expertise onboard, with the ultimate goal of absorbing them in to the company under a separate division.
As you mentioned, 60% of co-working spaces globally – but I believe South Africa is no different – are not commercially viable and therefore the above merger/acquisition options make sense for all parties concerned.
There is a big shake-up expected in the market in the coming years and Cube Workspace is well positioned to take advantage of this pending consolidation. We are always open to discussions with like-minded companies.
What’s next for Cube Workspace? Which elements of the business do you believe will take you to the next level and keep Cube Workspace relevant in the next few years?
We have recently opened two beautiful workspaces in Fourways and Morningside in Johannesburg, and our immediate focus is to ensure that they deliver on our promise of service excellence. Since launching, we’ve received an unbelievable response, significantly exceeding our expectations.
With the Cube Workspace brand being around for the last 5 years, there is an inherent trust between Cube Workspace and the market. We are seeing this first-hand with the high occupancy levels across all our workspaces.
Looking beyond the next 6 to 12 months, growth continues to be part of our strategy with a focus not only on South Africa, but also outside our borders. I firmly believe that the industry requires a dominate global player, which is primarily focused on the emerging markets and I am determined to grow Cube Workspace into an emerging market powerhouse.
Copyright © 2018 by Natalie du Preez.
This interview was conceptualised, conducted and authored by Natalie du Preez and is original content, which is property of the author, all rights reserved. This article or any portion thereof may not be copied, shared or reproduced or used in any manner whatsoever without the express written permission of the owner.