What is the value of instant space?

*This content is brought to you by Multiply, in conjunction with Biobuild Construction and Pure Consulting Engineers.

The way we think about shelter, habitation and buildings is outdated and limiting. Our physical environment should be much more considered, flexible in character and most importantly, serve to empower those left out of the mainstream of property development.

What is needed is instant space: this could take many forms – often a separate, autonomous and functional space that does not have to be permanent, does not require outdated building methodologies and can be built in kit form, like almost everything else in the modern world. We need transient, instant spaces that can efficiently and quickly plug in and out of our world to allow our citizens to be empowered at a much more fundamental level.

This was the idea that inspired Multiply, specialists in the design and manufacture of modular units, to develop the xPod.

The xPod is an engineered steel and concrete structure, well insulated for functioning comfortably in winter and summer. It can be erected in less than a week and, because it is easily transportable, it can be re-erected when you move house.

Covid-19, either through legislation, personal safety, or through plain common sense, has reinforced the option of employees working from home. This was a trend that was already starting to take off, facilitated by technology developments and the realisation that many employees, such as creditors clerks or IT programmers, do not have to interface directly with customers or attend meetings. So why make them struggle through the traffic every morning to reach the office?

But most traditional homes were not designed for, and are unsuitable for, working from home, where Mum or Dad has to compete with the washing, kids’ homework and home appliances to find a square metre of space. In poorer areas, the difficulty of working from home is compounded tenfold. While technology favours productivity, most home spaces do not. Some employees are eager to return to the office, just to get some peace and to work in relative peace.

There are multiple uses for the xPod beyond a work from home office. It can also solve other compact space requirements, for example it could serve as a small retail outlet, a kid’s playroom, or artist’s studio.

This is a “green” building. The xPod has an engineered steel frame, with adjustable steel pads which eliminates the needs for a traditional foundation. It has lightweight, eco-friendly concrete wall panels with thermal insulation, energy and acoustic efficiencies.

It can be powered either on-grid, with plugs in the house’s main box, or off-grid, with various solar kits available. From planning to building, the xPod can be ready within 4-5 weeks.

The pricing compares favourably with the current cost of office space. Corporate office space can cost up to R20,000 per square metre. A P-grade or A-grade office rental of R150/ sqm or more equates to an ongoing monthly cost of around R3,000 per employee. This cost could be slashed by a third by enabling employees to work from home in an xPod. When the xPod is paid off, the cost of space is then obviously zero, allowing you to invest the surplus back into your business.

A fully equipped, ‘off-grid’ xPod can be financed for nearly R1,000 less than the cost of each employee’s workspace, and then fully paid off within four years. But if the cost is shared with the employee, perhaps directly or through a salary sacrifice (either because the home office is a saleable improvement to the capital value of his / her house, or because of lower personal vehicle and fuel costs), the corporate’s savings can be even higher.

The analysis of instant space cannot be restricted to cost savings. It goes further.

A company will reap the benefits of improved retention and productivity if its staff are able to enjoy the flexibility of home, avoid long and stressful hours of commuting, and manage their time better around their families’ needs. Instant space empowers people, gives them options they never had before, solves their domestic spatial problems and gives them a vehicle to enable them to easily earn a living.

Beyond that, enabling people to travel less will also help to reduce carbon emissions from transportation. According to the IEA, in 2019 transportation accounted for 24% of all direct CO2 emissions from fuel combustion. Road vehicles, including cars, trucks, buses, two- and three-wheelers, accounted for almost three quarters of those emissions.

The country and the planet as a whole will benefit from lower carbon emissions, fewer cars on the road, less need for new motorways and new roads or road upgrades and less fuel imports.

Visit the xPod website at www.xpod.co.za for more information on the range of possibilities we offer.

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