One thing that the pandemic has taught is that we must be ready to work from wherever we are. Collaboration, and team engagement has fostered differently and is more evolved today – to the point that a business does not need a permanent office space to drive results. Coworking spaces which were born with the premise to help businesses provide collaborative spaces at variable costs, has grown owing to these reasons.
As businesses emerge from the pandemic, and are prioritizing workforce expansion, stabilization, and augmentation, coworking spaces will form a major share of this market. In fact, the share of co-working spaces in office absorption across metros saw the highest jump ever, in 2020-21, at 13%, as per an industry report by Anarock. Hybrid models have become a formidable norm in the corporate world, with its flexibility and agility.
THE STARTUP GROWTH CULTURE & YOUNGER DEMOGRAPHICS
Start-up culture is one of the reasons coworking spaces are growing massively in India. The young workforce leading start-up brigade are more inclined towards flexible and hybrid working set ups. The technology to augment workflows and redistribute resources has pushed enterprises to find newer ways to be economical and yet futuristic – a trend that has worked well for coworking.
With this, there is certainly a convenience factor for businesses, that can use spaces as per their requirement and needs, if they choose to not have a fully scaled office space. Technology has been a change agent, enabling smaller businesses to be sustainable, and for employees to focus on customer delivery than asset liabilities. Tech has already made the sitting at the desk redundant. The growth of coworking spaces will reach a value of USD 2.2 billion by the end of this year. The economy growing upwards, is driven by the younger audience and market, which has put focus on work, networking, and technology.
A Gartner survey had reported that 48% of employees are likely to work remotely at least part time after the pandemic, versus 30% before the pandemic. We will witness expansion of coworking infrastructure and a transformation of the modern office. This means flexible policies that enable rotation of the workforce and easily upsize or downsize, with simplified agreements.
WORK FROM ANYWHERE – THE CO-WORKING CULTURE
The hybrid model of the workplace has already kicked in and is performing well. As the desks become more vacant and HQs become smaller in area, flexible models will enable individual workers, or a team may choose work from simply anywhere. Coworking will be preferred for this. The model shall help make employees happier, motivated and be more proactive – as studies worldwide and in India have found out.
CO-WORKING AS WORKPLACE 2.0
Even some larger corporations and employers have pivoted and incorporated changes necessitated by the last few years. The workplace 2.0 is a version to ensure a culture of integrity, adoption of latest technology and tools for seamless communication as well as engagement and a dynamic workplace that helps the employees and considers their preferences. A coworking space is this and even beyond- offering an opportunity to network, connect and even learn from others’ experiences. India is a flex space market, and many entrepreneurs, solopreneurs, SMEs, and business owners are choosing coworking over an individual office space to run their shop.
Shining spotlight on coworking spaces, is also driven by lesser use of resources, as the model is driven by collaboration. The surge in the last one year has been phenomenal, offering extremely modern, safe and sustainable spaces, surpassing the traditional set ups. From shared physical space, to lounge access, IT infrastructure and PBX equipment, coworking offices are not brick and mortar structures.
The future of coworking space also estimates moving away from lease-based office space culture or rentals and adopting a flexible ownership model. India already has over 100+ centres of large co-working spaces across top metros and more formats are spanning, which are approximately 50,000 sq. ft to accommodate more people. The conventional system of renting an office, and locking capital in assets, continues to phase out. As real estate skyrockets, coworking spaces will serve as the needed alternatives.
The approaching years for coworking space and the sector seem like a bright shining star, as businesses move towards unconventional ways of working, and demand flexibility. Coworking will definitely be the way to work and will serve as a breeding ground for the new generation business owners and entrepreneurs. It will also serve as a platform to gain more traction, and faster growth at a macro level. We have embraced many changes in the new normal, and coworking offices will be the future of office experience, and disruptive technologies like AI and metaverse will augur for workplaces that are digital and more fluid in nature – which coworking will easily serve employees and CEOs alike.
(The author is Mr. Sanjay Kaul, CEO at Workspaces By Innova, and the views expressed in this article are his own)