The 2020 pandemic has only galvanised a more wide-spread focus on trimming expenses without hurting job numbers and impacting the livelihoods of employees.

If your business is keen to save money, here are some examples of what South African companies have already put into action…

Office space

Docking desks and limited parking

When Standard Bank opened its new office in Rosebank, it incorporated the concept of docking desks. This afforded the bank’s frontline personnel – those servicing clients – to have a place to dock if they needed time in the office, but they were not given permanent desk space. The bank applied this principle to parking, too, as not everyone was in the office at the same time, nobody is allocated a fixed bay. This is saving the company on hectares of office and parking space.

Office sharing

Owning or renting office space is expensive, which is why start-up businesses have turned to co-working office spaces. This allows them to rent office space for an hour, a few days a week or even permanently. Yet, there is no need to buy office furniture or pay for lights and water. These spaces also supply refreshments like tea and coffee, high-speed internet, access to printing and scanning equipment, and offer the use of meeting and boardrooms. This also cuts out on the need for long-term rentals, insurance, and parking.

Office expenses

Green offices


For larger companies, the green office movement has gained traction, with increasing numbers of companies looking to save money by finding innovative ways to cut down on the use of lighting and power. The Mall of Africa is a prime example of a building that was designed to maximise the use of daylight, to recycle water and use solar panels as a source of electricity. A total of 15,081 solar panels have been installed on the roof of the mall , with a capacity to generate 4.75 megawatts of electricity. The design has also allowed the mall to reduce its need for air-conditioning and heating. Other notable green buildings include the plush Sandton head offices of Sasol, Discovery and Absa.

Low-flush toilets

The Gordon Institute of Business Science introduced an innovative new flushing system in their bathrooms. Toilets flush using a vacuum system similar to that found on aeroplanes. This significantly reduces the amount of water used with every toilet flush.

Zoom, Skype and Microsoft Teams

Online meeting platforms have changed the face of interaction. Not only are they saving time in meetings as the feedback is more regulated, but they are also allowing companies to save money on catering, electricity, and sound and technical engineers. During the pandemic, a single division of one of South Africa’s big five banks saved R30,000 on catering alone. They opted to donate the money to charity.

Going paperless

Financial management firm Citadel has introduced a paperless system for clients. Using a secure online portal all financial information is communicated to clients online. Only if clients have specifically asked for the statements in hardcopy will the company supply them. This offers a massive saving on paper and postage and reduces any chance of identity theft. 

Logistics and deliveries

Doubling-up to save fuel

Logistics companies are looking to save on fuel. Last year, Coca-Cola launched Air Force One, a 44-pallet double trailer which will double the deliveries for a single truck. Other logistics companies are also looking to double-up on their fuel by converting trucks to a dual fuel system which uses liquified natural gas (LNG) in conjunction with diesel. LNG is a low carbon emission fuel which is not only a cheaper alternative to diesel but also saves companies on carbon tax.

Smart packaging

A few years ago, Toyota South Africa changed its bulk packaging for its motor spares distribution from single-use disposable packaging to reusable plastic containers. Spares being shipped to dealerships across the country are now packed into big plastic bins rather than cardboard boxes. This investment is saving on the costs of single-use packaging and, ultimately, waste.

Covid-19 has galvanised a more wide-spread focus on trimming expenses without hurting job numbers. 

Business activities 

Save your customers money

The Health and Safety Dialogue Company, together with its partners, has offered members a new portal, Amber, which contains a host of ready-made safety materials. This saves customers thousands on the cost of having customised health and safety posters, information and workshops exclusively designed. This is not only spreading the critical health and safety agenda, but also an exciting business opportunity.

Changing single-use disposable packaging to reusable plastic containers means savings on packaging costs and waste.

Employee productivity

Working from home

As people set up home offices, they have become more productive. Without having to spend hours on the road driving to and from meetings, or spending breaks around the water cooler, productivity has sky-rocketed. Nikki Bush, the renowned author and public speaker on human potential, says she has seen people’s ‘engagement’ in their work and teams go from 10% to 20% engaged to 94% to 100% engaged (this according to the polls Bush does with her online audiences). This means that companies are now getting more focus and greater productivity from their employees.  

Redefining business

Become a one-man show

Side-hustle expert and self-proclaimed obsessive entrepreneur, Nic Haralambous, urges small businesses to become one-man businesses. This is a notable money-saver. Rather than taking on the responsibility of employing people full time, get needed expertise in the form of independent contractors and freelancers. This means you only pay for services when you need them. Your wage bill will be trimmed down, but you still have the potential to provide work opportunities and can ensure your business continues to offer a full range of services.

In South Africa’s current economy, which the United Nations forecasts will take at least five years to recover from the impact of the country’s coronavirus response, businesses will have to don their innovation hats if they are to weather the approaching recessionary storm. Taking tips from other businesses on ways to save time, money and space is just one way to get the juices flowing.