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Co-working Space Are Gearing Up To Grab The Opportunity.

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It’s the battle of David versus Goliath! The traditional large plate office CRE players are pitched against the young Turks of co-working and the pundits are clearly divided on who will come out of the pandemic stronger and smarter. The big guns claim, they have the staying power and are irreplaceable in world which will need financial and operational muscle to keep spaces safe for tenant occupiers. India after all is the world’s largest back office hub for IT and ITeS services. Global clients like Accenture, Amazon, Cognizant, lease millions of square feet of office space to run operations, and not all of those can be moved home for security reasons. 

In fact, some of the biggest office developers of the world are celebrating an early demise of co-working, with one sound argument, who will risk stepping out of their homes to be in a shared space with strangers? Will co-working not die first, with work life changed forever?

Not so fast. An industry which rose from a gritty demand for flexibility and tech enabled community for entrepreneurs and start-ups, has a good and decent fight left in it. Infact, based on the fun eco-system which co-working spaces offered, even large companies like Netflix, GE Health Care, One Plus India opted to take space at WeWork, or Alibaba, Boeing and Standard Chartered at Co-Works and so on.

 The WHY of Co-working after Covid-19

Now connect the dots. Organisations are compelled to cut down on the number of employees coming into office buildings and rejig spaces for safe social distancing. Some employees are now happy working from home (WFH) with lesser commute and better work-life balance.  Other employees are not too happy with WFH and are raring to return to physical offices. In short, it’s a split requirement of smaller,closer to home nimbler spaces.

“Some employees who do not want to travel all the way to the office but cannot work from home. For such people companies will take help of Co-working spaces, so that an office space can be arranged for them near to their homes,” said Abhishek Goenka, CEO at CoWrks.

That’s a strong argument in favour of closer to homeco-working spaces, especially in a country like India, where roads are clogged, public transport overloaded and homes don’t have the infrastructure towork productively.

“Organizations are realigning their operational strategies to provide increased work flexibility that will in turn push the demand for coworking spaces,” said Amit Ramani, CEO & Founder, Awfis. “We saw an increase in demand in the month of May & June as compared to the months of March & April. Companies are now moving away from traditional real estate models and laying more emphasis on cost optimization, conversion from CapEx to OpEx and having more flexibility in rental contracts. Even the most conventional occupiers are now seeing the merit in coworking, remote working and partnering with us for different requirements. Additionally, we are also working with mid to large enterprises for work-near-home options owing to our extensive network pan India, added Ramani.

 The big rejig

The most important assurance which co-working companies are now focussing on is, how to beat safety worries. And the solutions are exactly the same for a large office landlord to any smaller co-working company. Adaptable floor plates, a thorough operational checklist to ensure physical safety, hygiene and well-being and strict social distancing norms across collaborative zones, meeting rooms, pantry, cafeteria, cabins and lobby area. Co-working companies are busy restructuring their spaces to maintain global standards and guidelines, along with contact-less technology to eliminate the need for any surface contact, from opening a door or lift, to ordering food.

The new normal beckons a new opportunity; a de-densified, closer to home, safe workplace. Eric Schmidt, former CEO of Google put it plainly “ We’re going to have to think about hub-and -spoke systems where local people don’t travel so far because they don’t want to be in public transit for so long”. Lightweight, spread out, flex-offices are what smart companies are looking for.

That’s an opportunity up for grabs for co-working companies not only in India, but world across. They are not giving up, just yet!

What do you think? Eager to hear some thoughts.

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Referenced links:

Many employees don’t want to work from home or they have lack of arrangements or infrastructure at their homes: https://convene.com/catalyst/i-hate-working-from-home/

Thereare reasons why office space will continue to remain in demand. Remote workers have to work somewhere and employees need to interact with each other face to face: https://www.forbes.com/sites/danestangler/2020/04/03/here-are-three-reasons-covid-19-makes-coworking-spaces-even-more-important/#2ec22e9833ac

Work from home policy will significantly impact demand for office space which will result in lower rentals: https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/industry/services/property-/-cstruction/tech-retail-commercial-rentals-may-come-under-pressure-in-post-covid-19-era/articleshow/75568134.cms

Posted by: Ashwini Sharma

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