Since the early 2000s open and coworking spaces have become a global phenomenon. They have revolutionised working environments by replacing rigid, siloed office spaces with beautiful open layouts that inspire creativity and collaboration. Young South African businesses and entrepreneurs have been enthusiastic in adopting this innovative model, resulting in a number of buildings being renovated into shared working spaces across the country.
Workshop17 is one of the first such establishments that has become renowned for attracting trendy entrepreneurial clientele who gather to work and collaborate in the state-of-the-art shared working spaces. The origins of Workshop17 date back to 2012 when Johannesburg-based Paul Keursten and Mark Seftel set out to create an open and shared workspace for business to thrive, connect and grow after realising no such offering existed in South Africa.
“Paul and Mark wanted to increase collaboration amongst employees and members of the community and remove the outdated hierarchical barriers in companies and organisations. They wanted to offer a solution to employees who felt that management is inaccessible; with open work spaces workers are encouraged to approach one another to collaborate and share ideas and opinions,” said Wynand Theron, National Facilities and ICT Manager for Workshop17.
Workshop17 work spaces are made up of Ideas Lounges, pause rooms, informal meeting booths, lounges and open cafés. There are also silent hot-desking spaces and pit stop booths for those who require a quiet space to work.
Catering for a variety of business needs
Workshop17 is 50% owned by Growthpoint, one of the largest property investment companies in South Africa. Their investment has allowed Workshop17 to grow and scale the footprint of coworking in South Africa with the establishment of seven different locations in Cape Town, Cape Winelands and Johannesburg.
“Our goal is to enable all types of organisations and individuals to solely focus on their businesses without having to worry about long-term leases, operational tasks and networking, as it’s all taken care of at Workshop17,” said Wynand.
Workshop17 offers a range of memberships, from the worker who only needs access to a WIFI connection and a business address, to large corporates that require desks and a dedicated space for 100 employees. The membership commitment periods range from month-to-month to three years, depending on the needs of the person or organisation.
“Workshop17 offers members access to a community of over 1,500 members and more than 450 organisations, creating one of the largest collaborative coworking communities in South Africa,” said Wynand.
While Workshop 17 was forced to shut their doors when COVID-19 lockdown was announced, they were able to welcome back their members under level 3 on the 1st of June. To ensure everyone’s safety, they have enforced strict measures such as screening everyone who enters their premises, cleaning surfaces more frequently, adding workspace dividers, enforcing a 1.5m social distancing policy and implementing contactless payments.
Supporting South African entrepreneurs big and small
Pre-COVID-19, Workshop17 used to often hold events supporting entrepreneurship, learning and networking in various fields. They partnered with strategic organisations such as Heavy Chef, Startup Grind, Future Females, TEDx and Adventure Tales, to name but a few, who hosted events at the Workshop17 spaces. These events were open to Workshop17 members (who get special discounts), as well as to the general public, to join and learn more about the current business, entrepreneur, startup and freelance trends and gain valuable insights from the invited speakers who are experts in their fields.
No play without pay
As outlined above, Workshop17 provides an invaluable range of resources and services to support local businesses and entrepreneurs. In order to ensure a healthy revenue stream to support their business model, they need to ensure invoices are sent out to their members and paid on time.
They developed their invoicing platform in-house so that they could have the scalability and flexibility to add custom modules and integrate onto other platforms. In 2015 Workshop17 integrated their invoicing platform with Payfast’s online payment solution so that they could offer their members the ability to settle their invoices online with Instant EFT or credit card payments.
“We were looking for a way for members to pay their invoices by means of credit card and not have the inconvenience of a card machine. Payfast was able to offer this service to us at a reasonable rate and the integration to the platform was relatively painless,” said Wynand.
Payfast’s invoicing solution allows merchants such as Workshop17 to add a ‘Pay Now’ button linked to one of our supported payment methods directly on the invoice, via a custom integration, giving their customers a convenient way to settle their account. All invoices settled via Payfast automatically reflect as paid on Workshop17’s platform and are matched to their members’ records on their system.
Payfast integrates with a variety of invoicing platforms as well as custom integration. So if you are looking for a convenient way for your customers or clients to settle their accounts, sign up for a free Payfast account and start streamlining your invoice payments.