Though a relatively new city—established only in 1886—Johannesburg commands attention on the world stage. With a population of 4.4 million, and many of these residents aged between 19 and 39, there’s extreme potential for success in this vibrant metropolis. It’s the largest city in South Africa, serving as the nation’s financial center and boasting one of the largest airports on the continent.
Between freeways, railroads, and the Gautrain (a high-speed commuter train that links the city with Pretoria and O.R. Tambo International Airport), Johannesburg is a strategic location for companies looking to expand. Plus, with a diverse, robust economy, there’s ample opportunity for growth in a range of sectors.
It’s not all business, however, and the city’s rich cultural scene will continue to inspire your team long after the workday is done; leading music venues, an abundance of public art, and a unique range of cultural museums can all be found in this vibrant metropolis. An added bonus? The city’s climate is idyllic, rarely falling below 30 degrees or climbing above 85 degrees.
The scope of business in Johannesburg
Johannesburg’s contribution to the economy of South Africa is almost 16 percent; it adds more to the nation’s GDP than any other metropolitan area, and 12 percent of the country’s workforce operates here. In addition to the thriving financial sector, industries including retail and wholesale trade, community and social services, and manufacturing are driving the local economy.
On a national scale, the economy is growing steadily; the World Bank reports the economy grew by 0.8 percent in 2018 and predicts the growth will accelerate at 1.3 percent in 2019 and 1.7 percent in 2020. In a bid to further this growth, the federal government has introduced measures that reduce the cost and time involved in registering a company, seeking construction permits, and trading across borders. These changes are geared toward attracting foreign investment and the regional headquarters of multinational companies.
The potential for success in Johannesburg is reflected in the number of international companies housed in the city. More than 70 percent of companies operating in Africa have their regional headquarters in Johannesburg, and the city has served as an entry point to Africa for commercial giants including manufacturing and technology conglomerate Bosch and pharmaceutical company Merck.
As a leading business center in one of the largest economies in Africa, Johannesburg is a favorite destination for Fortune 500 companies to put down roots. Other popular African cities include Cape Town, Casablanca, Lagos, and Nairobi, which offer varied advantages such as enhanced infrastructure, proximity to oil and energy producers, higher education, tax breaks, and government incentives.
Finding talent in the city
You don’t have to look far to find a pool of talented and qualified college graduates to fill positions in Johannesburg. The University of Johannesburg, for example, boasts a student population of approximately 50,000—at least 3,000 of these are international students representing more than 80 countries. Then there is the University of the Witwatersrand, which in 2017 and 2018 was listed as the number-one university in South Africa by the Academic Ranking of World Universities.
Yet this wealth of talent is leading to increased competition, with a recent EY report finding 70 percent of African firms surveyed are recruiting heavily, meaning turnover is increasing and vacancies are taking longer to fill.
A tip: The same survey reported pay isn’t the most important factor in attracting new talent. Instead, employer brand and the opportunity for learning and development are the major draws for potential employees.
The cost of Johannesburg office space
A pendulum swing between supply and demand often makes finding office space in Johannesburg confusing, with high unpredictability around the price of workspace. According to investment firm JLL, which specializes in real estate, Johannesburg experienced 6 percent year-over-year growth in the cost of office space between 2014 and 2016 yet vacancies remained around 12 percent. Despite this, supply between 2016 and 2018 was forecasted to increase by up to 4 percent year-over-year, without any predicted change to vacancy rates.
This trend is most obvious in places like Sandton: In March this year, around 20 percent of the office space in Sandton—a purpose-built commercial development—remained vacant. And while the area boasts huge clients and the potential for further growth, it’s an example of the volatility of local real estate.
Workspace solutions like WeWork help solve this, offering flexible, all-inclusive agreements that allow you to pay only for the space you need. Monthly rental fees can grow and shrink with your team, while office necessities like printers, internet, furniture, and cleaning and front-desk staff are also built-in.
WeWork takes this one step further, with beautiful design that helps fuel productivity and enrich collaboration. Teams of all sizes are at home in our sleek private offices while inspiration comes easily in art-filled lounges and colorful conference rooms. Plus, access to a global community helps you forge connections in Johannesburg and across the globe.
Blend work and play at WeWork in Rosebank
Welcome to Rosebank, a neighborhood bursting with living spaces, art galleries, high-end shops, cinema complexes, and more. Between young professionals and growing families, this is an idyllic community in which to put down roots.
The Circa Gallery on Jellicoe Avenue, for example, is an ultramodern building that hosts timeless art and frequent exhibitions. And the local mall has something for everyone: From ice creameries to upscale restaurants, this walkable shopping and dining complex is at the heart of rejuvenation in Rosebank.
In a rapidly growing area that shows no signs of slowing down, WeWork has six floors of dynamic office space at The Link in Rosebank—a 15-story building brimming with modern amenities. Secure parking and bike stations make commuting simple; 24-hour access adds to the convenience. Enjoy expansive lounges and productivity-fueling private offices at this vibrant, versatile workspace, then treat the team to dinner at one of the surrounding eateries.
Johannesburg is an excellent city in which to do business, and WeWork has the experience, expertise, and dedication to get any freelancer or business up and running.
Growing from a few to a few hundred employees takes strategy and the right space.