Awfis gets $20 million from Sequoia | Times of India

26 April 2017

Awfis gets $20 million from Sequoia | Times of India

  • The Times of India

Call it the WeWork effect, Indian venture capital firms are warming up to the nascent shared work place market locally. Sequoia Capital is putting $20 million or around Rs 130 crore in Awfis, a network of collaborative co-working spaces, which wants to establish 100 centres within a ten minute driving distance of each other across metros. This is the largest financing round for any player in the segment and also the most significant early-stage bet by a risk investor on a domestic startup in this segment.

Awfis was jointly incubated by its founder Amit Ramani and The Three Sisters: Institutional office, a family office led the three daughters of Yes Bank’s Rana Kapoor, with a total corpus of $11 million.

The funding round comes on the back of WeWork, the New York-based shared work place startup, which is valued at $17 billion having already mapped out its India plan by forging a joint venture with the Bengaluru-based developer Embassy Group.

Awfis which has about 7,500 seats across 21 centres across eight cities is looking to expand to 35,000 seats over the next two years. “No one sits at their desks and gets their work done. Today’s workforce is mobile and we want to cater to this set of growing professionals in the country with a shared economy platform like ours,” Ramani told TOI over a chat. The two-year-old company, uses a combination of managed franchise model and leasing properties to open its centres. Unlike WeWork which takes up huge spaces, Awfis says it differentiates itself by being a 350-400 seater, neighbourhood co-working centre.
Ramani said Awfis was pushing its just-in-time usage which costs Rs 350 for a seat on a per day basis as it’s far more lucrative than clients which take up monthly and annual packages. Office rental startups are gaining traction especially among small to medium enterprises (SMEs) which do not want to lease offices at high rentals. Awfis has 50% of its users come from the SME sector, 25% are freelancers and startups, while the rest are corporates. Abhay Pandey, MD at Sequoia Capital, said Awfis is playing on two significant global trends– sharing economy and communities. This being delivered through a superior user experience at a lower total cost makes it exciting.

WeWork which had announced its India entry and is expected to start operations soon has disrupted the traditional real-estate sector across the globe. The company recently leased 1.9 lakh sq ft space at the Enam Building in Bandra Kurla Complex (BKC). Bhive , 91 Springboard, Investopad, Breathing Room, Innov8 are some of the local startups offering co-working spaces in India while Bengaluru-based RMZ Corp is also foraying into this business. Awfis claims to have 90% occupancy across its established centres. Others like Regus are the old guards in this business which cater more to the corporates than smaller businesses.

Proptech is driving CRE transformation

30 September 2022

Proptech is driving CRE transformation

  • Posted by Awfis Editorial

The interplay between office landlords and developers, investors, operators, and occupiers is being altered by the emergence of proptech. Increased reliance on technology and data is producing an excellent employee experience.

There is an interesting trend worth mentioning within the commercial real estate (CRE) space. The COVID-induced pandemic that resulted in halting of construction activity across the country, couldn’t deter the industry stakeholders from building a capacity for technology adoption. Property technology (Proptech) adoption has only increased across the real estate sector. Much of the CRE, including shared workspaces, are witnessing the benefits of a proptech adoption.

What does adoption mean?

The CRE industry is ripe for disruption. In the fast-paced world, new technology solutions relating to data and proptech are constantly emerging while older systems are being updated or phased out. Technologies like virtual reality, the Internet of Things (IoT) and artificial intelligence are changing the way people work, live, and interact with properties. These technologies also present an opportunity to increase operational efficiency and optimize performance at all stages of asset life cycles from initial investment to final disposition.

To keep up with this pace of change, the innovation and adoption curve in the industry has accelerated significantly. From proof of concept to pilots and production implementations, there is a major acceleration of new technologies in the property sector.

As a result, there is a future in which buildings will be even more connected, sustainable, and intelligent. These changes will lead to new standards for occupiers and owners, as they adopt these technologies across their properties to create more productive workspaces. And emerging technologies tend to impact the relationship between the five pillars of CRE: developers, investors, operators, occupiers and employees. Here’s how:

Development of collaborative workspaces: Developers and flex operators continue to focus on the creation of more collaborative workspaces. Tech adoption will drive innovation in the way we design and use space, bringing new ways of collaboration and interaction between humans and technology. Hence, buildings will be more connected, with sensors enabling occupants to track energy use, see and control their building systems, and access real-time information.

Based on the use of proptech, one can divide workspace development into two phases: the construction phase and the design phase. New technologies such as 3D printing and building information modelling (BIM) have the ability to transform the construction industry, bringing more customized designs and new materials. BIM is revolutionizing the construction industry by enabling designers and engineers to collaborate digitally, using real data to design buildings. Stakeholders in India have started using BIM and are able to reduce the time and cost overruns across projects.

While designing, developers are trying to create the workspaces of the future; they focus on creating work environments that would be more flexible and fluid. These will also be secure for data and more collaborative for teams. Much of this trend is backed by the demand from millennials. Being a majority of the current workforce, the segment continues to drive new standards for collaboration and flexibility in their workplaces.

Creating a more productive workspace: The pace of proptech adoption in the CRE space has been fast in the last two years. AR and VR technologies are now enabling designers, engineers, and facility managers to collaborate remotely and in real-time, saving time and money.

Much of the space recalibration in the new normal has been done keeping in mind the new requirements. For example, the use of VR is allowing designers to immerse themselves in the design and also train employees prior to them arriving at the site, helping to make the office safer.

AR, on the other hand, is being used in real time, including overlaying information, helping to guide the design process, as well as providing information on the surrounding environment. An example of adoption would be the creation of a connected cloud kitchen and a canteen across offices.

The success of a workplace

We are in the midst of an evolution. The focus is on developing a centralised operation to manage and operate an office. This would save time and money and improve occupant experience. By controlling most of the functions to a central hub, building managers now view data in real time and identify issues before they become problems.

Building operators are also using data to better forecast energy demand, enabling them to manage their facilities more efficiently. This data is being used to create a more sustainable environment, helping to reduce waste and water usage and even manage the parking space. Sensors can also monitor indoor air quality, helping to identify issues such as CO2 levels or temperature in different sections of a premise.

In times to come, proptech will prove to be an effective tool that will help the wider community in tackling the challenges like urban mobility and pollution around workplaces. Keep an eye out for the transformation and enjoy!

This story appeared in the 30 September, 2022 issue of Times of India and was originally published at: Proptech is driving CRE transformation

35% firms back in office, telecom & consulting top 2, finds survey

05 August 2022

35% firms back in office, telecom & consulting top 2, finds survey

  • Posted by Awfis Editorial

About 35% of workspace occupiers have seen more than three-fourths of their employees returning to office while the remaining continue to look towards distributed workspaces as a strategy to shift from location-centric to people-centric spaces, a survey by Colliers and Awfis has found.

After a gap of two years — when the pandemic forced homes to turn workplaces — the return to offices has “gathered momentum”, the report said.

According to the survey, the telecom and consulting sectors saw the highest rate of return to office — some of them even 100%. More than 53% of the offices studied preferred the hybrid model.

Peush Jain, the managing director (office services) at Colliers India, said, “There has been a rise in demand in leasing of flex space. With 6.6 lakh sqft, Delhi-NCR accounted for 19% of the overall flex demand across the top six cities.”

He said so far this year, flex operators had already leased out about 90% of the space given out in 2021. “In terms of flex space leasing, areas off the Noida Expressway and DLF Cyber City saw heightened activity in 2022. According to the latest report, promoting work-life balance and improving employee productivity emerged as key factors among occupiers for the adoption of flex space,” said Jain.

The report also delved into how occupiers were likely to choose distributed workspaces and devise strategies in keeping with the prevalent preferences.

Rajiv Bhalla, the managing director at Barco India, said, “At Barco India, employees have the flexibility to work in the hybrid model depending on their profile and responsibilities. We believe that hybrid is here to stay, and our surveys have attested to this phenomenon.”

He added that the pandemic had transformed the entire HR ecosystem, making it “touch-free” and powered by “employee experience”. “In all this, HR tech has been the glue binding work and workforce, ensuring the smooth functioning of the hybrid teams,” said Bhalla.

Harshvendra Soin, the global chief people officer and head of marketing at Tech Mahindra, said, “We believe in ‘wellness before business’ and the well-being of employees is our topmost priority. Our associates continue to have the flexibility to work from anywhere and we expect this trend to ramp up. We are keeping a close watch on all the directives issued by the respective state governments and have put stringent measures in place to curb the spread of the infection.”

According to Sumit Lakhani, the deputy CEO at Awfis, many organizations feel that distributed workplaces will help them save time and money. “Keeping employee centricity at the forefront, 79% of the occupiers feel that distributed workplace strategy will be highly beneficial to save time and money. Additionally, work-life balance, mental wellbeing and team productivity are fueled when opting for flex spaces.”, he added.

This story appeared in the 5 August, 2022 issue of Times of India and was originally published at: 35% firms back in office, telecom & consulting top 2, finds survey

Return to office highest in consultancy companies, telcos

04 August 2022

Return to office highest in consultancy companies, telcos

  • Posted by Awfis Editorial

After a gap of about two years, return to office (RTO) is gathering pace with a decline in Covid-19 cases with about 35% companies in the top six cities of the country seing a majority (75-100%) of employees return to work from offices, including in the hybrid mode where employees come to office a few times a week, according to a C-Suite survey conducted by real estate consultancy firm Colliers and co-working player Awfis.

“As the third wave of Covid-19 started waning in February, the return to office gained momentum. As a result, by June 2022 about 34-35% of the companies saw about 75-100% of employees back in office (includes hybrid work). Going ahead, we feel employers would center workplans around flexibility,” said the study titled ‘Workplace & Flexibility’ that surveyed about 150 companies across six top cities – Hyderabad, Bengaluru, Mumbai, Chennai, Delhi NCR and Pune.

The survey also found that about 74% of companies are eyeing distributed workspaces as a strategy to make the shift from location-centric to people-centric workspaces, that will give employees flexibility and result in productivity gains for companies.

Pointing out that a distributed workspace strategy is the way to go in this new era of experiential workplaces, Ramesh Nair, CEO India & managing director, market development Asia, Colliers, said occupiers are prefering to house their teams in flex centres across cities.

“This shift in strategy also reflects in leasing trends with flex operators leasing about 3.5 million sq feet of space in H1 2022 accounting for about 13% of overall leasing across the top six cities, which is almost three-fourths of the flex leasing that took place in entire 2021,” he said.

While the share of flex in overall leasing in H1 2022 was highest in Pune at 34%, it was followed by Delhi NCR at 19%, Mumbai with 16%, Bengaluru with 15% and Hyderabad and Chennai with 8% each.

Here Nair also pointed out that as companies focus on balancing business goals and employee wellbeing, over half the IT/ITeS companies surveyed are opting for a distributed work model. “We can see opportunities for flex spaces both in metro and non-metro cities where total flex spaces are likely to grow by over two-fold to 5.5 million sq feet by 2022 end,” he added.

Awfis founder & CEO Amit Ramani said going forward the number of occupier companies opting for flex centres for their workspace requirement would increase to 77%. “We expect exceptional demand in the future, driven largely by large corporates for de-densification of existing traditional offices, Ramani said.

This story appeared in the 4 August, 2022 issue of Times of India and was originally published at: Return to office highest in consultancy companies, telcos