Amit Ramani, Founder & CEO, Awfis Space Solutions
Awfis Space Solutions is a new age technology venture that is redefining the current business landscape by creating an ecosystem of workspaces for the small medium individual local entrepreneurs (S.M.I.L.E.) on a just-in time basis. It is the 2nd largest pro working business in India with 2000 seats across Bangalore, Delhi, and Mumbai.
Flexible workspaces over the previous years have witnessed immense success in India. Co-working, a concept unheard of in the industry has now become an integral part of the growth and development of the real estate sector at large. This accelerated growth has transpired from the radical shift in the Indian customary workspace to a more flexible, accessible and affordable co-working space. It has gained tremendous popularity not only amongst the startups and freelancers but also amongst corporates and multinational companies.
"It is evident, that organizations today have realized the need to cater to the employee requirements and hence co-working paves the way for both the employer and the employee"
In the first quarter of 2019 itself, co-working had taken up about 2.9 million square feet of commercial realty which is 70% increase on a Q-O-Q basis and a 277 percent increase on a Y-O-Y basis, leading to enormous opportunities for the co-working business in the country.
Additionally, fuelling this considerable progress is the rising entrepreneurial spirit, which is in fact seeping into the Tier II cities as well. Tier II markets are expected to grow to 8.5mn seats by 2020. Thus, given the robust demand and impetus that it has been able to garner, it wouldn’t be an exaggeration to suggest that the best is yet to come for a segment, which is still in the nascent stages of its development.
Intrinsically collaborative and flexible, co-working has observed many new trends and unique practices since emergence While the past few years have unearthed some strong trends, which have redefined the future of the plug and play space, we expect the momentum to gain strong traction in the coming years as well. Here are the key trends that we foresee will reshape the industry:
1. Going Beyond Conventional Leasing: The business relationship between a developer and a co-working space provider is now no longer limited to just leasing the commercial space. Co-working spaces are also handholding developers by marketing and representing other floors in the building to clients on conventional lease. Co-working players are curating exclusive experiences and engagements for the building tenants by providing Grade A amenities like Gym, Café, Creche and managing the complete building ecosystem by bringing alliances, celebrating events and integrating community focus for the occupants.
2. Co-Working and Co-Living: Business expansion and portfolio diversity are key elements for continual company growth. While co-working space providers have successfully met the supply and demand needs in India’s office spaces, this has now also extended to the residential real estate market wherein millennials are now getting used to the concept of Co-Living. Co-living is one of the alternatives to solving the woes of traditional accommodations faced by todays Gen Z generation and thereby a lucrative approach targeting millennials offering a holistic solution with amenities and community engagement programmes. While this is still in its preliminary stages, it will definitely be interesting to seeing the concepts’ popularity amongst the Indian audiences in 2020.
3. Tech-Integration at Work: The traditional desk and cabins will likely be non-existent in the next few years and wearable technology and Artificial Intelligence will gradually take over the co-working spaces transforming them into autonomous workspaces. Smart access, smart meeting rooms and smart reception have already ventured enabling cloud-based access system, facial recognition, and security monitoring on a real time basis. Virtual assistants, AI powered ambience and temperature control and touch screen-based collaborations are improving user experience and increasing interactivity. Voice controlled gadgets, wearable technology including wearable glasses, embedded chips, and wrist devices connected with Internet of Things (IoT) will take centre-stage and the connection of working professionals with fixed work desks will become a passé.
4. Work near Home not Work from Home: With increasing popularity of Work-life balance, people prefer living closer to their workplace. It saves productive man hours instead of losing time to traffic congestion for hours whilst commuting to work. Owing to multiple locations and flexible work hours around the city, co-working spaces help to reduce travel time. As part of employee friendly policies, companies and brands today have been allowing ‘WFH’. However, due to multiple challenges like distractions at home and unavailability of right infrastructure (high speed internet, printer, desk space), there is significant loss in productivity. This is encouraging more and more companies to explore ‘Work near Home WNH’ allowing employees to work remotely out of shared spaces while having access to effective office infrastructure and amenities. Co-working is a feasible on the go option saving time, readily accessible resources and available infrastructure, without the employee having to worry about the operational hassles and focus on work.
5. Customised Enterprise Solutions: Shared workspace providers are also creating and managing independent offices for companies along with running the co-working business. They provide A-Z solutions right from identifying a suitable space for construction, customization and providing complete office space operations. This is a hassle free way for an enterprise to outsource the construction and interiors thus allowing them to focus on running their business. Nowadays companies opt for customized solutions to ensure employee satisfaction on priority at the same time integrating brand values and ethos amongst the existing workforce.
6. Collaboration at the forefront: Co-working spaces provide an ideal platform for members to network and leverage potential business opportunities. With diverse companies working under the same roof, the interactions are seamless and collaborations/associations are plenty. Often times, the collaboration also happens between the co-working space provider and the clients sitting within through retailing and sampling of products and services. The clients get real time feedback from the larger community and opportunity to test the market with varied demographics for the said product/ service.
With the emerging flexible workspace ecosystem, co-working has now become an integral part of the same. The workplace transformation has begun and the segment will see some major alterations in the next 4-6 years due to varied factors including frequently changing lifestyle, technology integration in daily life and work-life balance being on priority list. It is evident, that organizations today have realized the need to cater to the employee requirements and hence co-working paves the way for both the employer and the employee.