5 Ways Co Working Is Changing Modern Workplaces

amit

2016 has been the year of new ideas and innovation, new policies and changes in the overall economy of India. It has also been about the emergence of new business models in the start-up economy. One such new concept that has picked up steam in the Indian market is the idea of sharing workspaces. Companies over the world are asking what are the best ways to create an office that is not just to house all their employees but also to become a strategic tool that enhances productivity, collaboration and inspiration for the company and its employees.

While informal office sharing has always existed, the emergence of co-working spaces has become the foundation for start-ups, entrepreneurs, consultants and freelancers seeking flexible, budget-friendly and professional work solutions. The onset of co-working businesses globally was a step towards breaking longstanding barriers in commercial real estate replacing lengthy leases and security deposits by enabling just in-time use of space. Co-working players then took this to a new level by offering attractive value added services, attractive membership schemes, preferential access to member services, partnerships with other start-ups and mentoring facilities, among others. 

The concept of co-working is set to change the way workplaces are functioning since decades and here is how:

1. Hassle Free Space Management

There is a significant growth in Independent Workforce and Entrepreneurship in India providing a thrust to demand of ‘Flexible’ and ‘Smaller’ Chunk of real estate spaces. Even for bigger businesses and corporates, most of the supply of Real Estate comes in larger chunk and carries substantial fixed costs and lock-in periods. Real estate being the single largest expense on the balance sheet, organizations are constantly challenged to reduce the footprint. This trend will continue to drive organizations to look at alternative solutions including leveraging shared infrastructure to reduce cost.

With shared workspaces providing readily available workstations, meeting rooms and desks, the concern of facility management can be left at bay. Everything is taken care of starting from security, technology, infrastructure, housekeeping, working cafeteria and other customizable solutions.

2.  Proximity

Today one of the big challenges for an office goer globally is the time spent on commuting between home to office and vice-versa. In India, this commute time is anywhere between 2-4 hours. In order to provide more employee friendly policies, companies have been exploring the option of allowing employees to ‘Work From Home’. However, due to inherent challenges like a. Distractions at Home, b. Unavailability of right infrastructure (high speed internet, printer, desk space), and c. Lack of Social Interactions / Peer 2 Peer engagements, there is significant loss in productivity. This is prompting more and more companies to explore ‘Work Near Home’ – allowing employees to work remotely out of shared spaces while having access to effective office infrastructure. The time saved is invested back in the company or spent with family, thus improving efficiency. Crowd sourcing will also continue to increase the need for Pro-Working spaces that are located in close proximity to residential areas.

3. Flexibility

Companies today are expanding to multiple geographies and servicing clients throughout the country and the workforce cannot always be expected, and required, to work out of a handful of central locations. The workforce today tends to be geographically dispersed and the need for satellite offices is common. Co-working spaces with large networks allows companies to house their tele-commuters/mobile professionals at such workplaces ensuring productivity.

In terms of employee headcounts, start-ups and SMEs are scaling at a much faster rate than before making their space requirements more fluid and ever – changing. Co-working spaces provide them with the flexibility of acquiring space as per need and not invest in property in anticipation of future demand.

4. Need for New Age Design and Activity Based Work Setting

The moment you say office, the excitement levels go down and the face wears a frown. With co-working spaces designed to allow for relaxation and fun, the idea of a workplace is rapidly changing. User centric design that is aesthetic, appealing, ergonomic and support the work styles of its users leading to a stress-free work environment is now in demand. The need of the hour is to design spaces that appeal to the modern day office workers, provide productive work spaces and deliver a best in class work experience for its users. Many corporates are realising this and making a change in their work-settings.

The work-styles of most companies now focuses on collaboration and teamwork. With millennials leading the charge for hierarchy, activity based workspaces that provides various settings including fixed work-desks, private cabins, hot desks, meeting lounges, rock pods, open and closed collaboration areas are in demand.

Co-working spaces provide adequate activity based productive work environment and leverages the network effects of people who form a community where the producer and consumer of space co-exist. Startups and SMEs are warming up to the idea of collaborative working which allows them to share not just physical space with peers but also engage actively for cross – pollination of ideas.

5. Technology

Technology integration in co-working is becoming the next big thing, enabling guided discovery and app/web based real-time bookings and community engagement. In fact, early integration of technology in the designing process with 3D visuals and new age Building Information Modeling (BIM) systems will accelerate the creation of flexible work-spaces. The co-working movement coupled with innovative technology is redefining office space consumption in India.

At the heart of a shared workspace lies collaboration and flexibility. While these two factors are driving a great surge in demand, more and more players are realizing the opportunities and entering the market to create a competitive market model.  People, proximity and performance put together defines the vision of a shared workspace, and is giving rise to even modified concepts like Pro-Working, which is more than just co-working.

The workplace transformation has begun and in earnest and will see the biggest changes in the next 10 years as people lifestyle’s change, technology sees rapid developments, commute time continues to increase, health and wellbeing takes centre stage putting the office worker at the core of all office space solutions.