Agnostic ‘plug-and-play’ modular workspaces

Containerised office spaces aren’t just for construction sites. Smart, green containerised offices are the perfect solution for businesses that need more space but don’t want to relocate.

Johannesburg, 14 May 2020
Read time 3min 50sec
Gerrit Olivier, Manager Systems, Servers, Hosting, Research and Development, Sizwe Africa IT Group.
Gerrit Olivier, Manager Systems, Servers, Hosting, Research and Development, Sizwe Africa IT Group.

Today’s businesses want the flexibility to scale up or down, depending on their workload. A modular approach to expanding infrastructure and facilities permits them to scale their office space requirements using containerised educational, facilities or office solutions. 

Gerrit Olivier, Manager Systems, Servers, Hosting, Research and Development at Sizwe Africa IT Group, says: “It’s possible to provide additional office space in a relatively short space of time, ranging from a single office container to an entire office block, designed out of multiple containers. This can be erected in the company’s car park or on adjacent land, if the business has permission to do so.”

Olivier is referring to technology-driven architecture and the maintenance thereof. “These green office solutions are built out of shipping containers. For example, a 40m² office block will require nine containers. Containerised offices can include both server and power rooms as well as a kitchen area, if required. All of the utilities are pre-installed, the offices are pre-built and transported to the client’s site. Even the office furniture is supplied and assembled. The containers come with a solar-powered energy source installed.”

He goes on to discuss the additional benefits of deploying containers. “The costs of brick-and-mortar buildings are excessive, not to mention the planning required prior to and during construction. Using containers means you only need to provide the space, although there are still some guidelines to comply with in terms of how high they can be stacked and how many containers can be placed on a piece of land.”

Containers can be located anywhere, their placement isn’t bound by building requirements and no formal designs are required from the council. Another great benefit is that containers are mobile, so can be moved to a new location if required. This is a cost-effective option for providing workforce space, technical solutions and facilities.

A containerised solution means the technology is pre-installed as per the client’s requirements, it’s tailor-made and customisable. Typical designs include but aren’t limited to classrooms, call centres and even data centres. “It is possible to host an entire infrastructure in a container. If you consider the capital outlay required to create space for a data centre in a building, installing the data centre in an on-premises container is much more cost-effective. Cooling, fire suppression and power can be fitted to the client’s specifications.”

From a business continuity perspective, a containerised solution can ensure that people can continue working as usual in the event of a disaster to a business’s infrastructure. For instance, it can provide an alternative site in the event that the building floods. The container can be built to match the existing building’s aesthetics in terms of colour scheme, branding and the like.

“Over and above allowing businesses to grow on demand, self-contained solar-powered offices could be a useful solution in areas where access to resources and facilities are scarce,” says Olivier. Solar solutions can be either entirely off-grid, where the entire container is self-sufficient without requiring council power, or they can be grid-tied, merging council power and solar to save money.

“These solar-powered green smart centres are pretty much agnostic ‘plug-and-play’ modular workplace environments,” says Olivier, “and are becoming a popular and affordable alternative to either extending your current office space, building a disaster recovery site, ablution facilities or even moving to a larger premises, the functions are pretty much limitless.”

They’re environmentally-friendly, they’re mobile and can be added onto should the business require even more office space. Going this route enables the business to reduce its capital expenditure related to building or moving costs, and the space is customisable to meet the business’s unique needs.

The benefits of a containerised office solution include:

  • Quicker deployment than building additional space.
  • Less expensive than embarking on a building project.
  • Costs less than moving premises.
  • More convenient than moving to a bigger premises.
  • Rent or buy, whichever works best for your balance sheet.
  • Scale up or down as your business needs evolve.

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