Awfis: Working on the move

20 February 2017

Awfis: Working on the move

  • The Financial Express



Express Drives: How was the concept of Awfis conceived?

Awfis: We started in July 2015 and the concept was initially to solve what has been the perennial problem in India, which is the ability to find a use of real estate on-the-go where shared space models have become prevalent in taxis, hotels etc. this was an area which lagged in any kind of new innovation. The idea was the ability for people to book a space on -the- move, in a just-in-time basis anywhere, anytime and in any quantity they wanted. We first built the technology platform about 16 months ago and listed ourselves as we call it as ‘low working centres’ which today we have 18 centres in different locations like Pune, Mumbai, , Hyderabad, Bangalore, Delhi and have close to 4,000 seats which are projected to go up to 8,000 seats by March 2017. We provide the convenience, complete transparency in terms of price, complete flexibility wherein a user can book a space from one hour to 11 months or more. There is no security deposit or long term commitment. In addition to the seats, users can also benefit from the different alliances we have where there is a reward programme for example a discount coupon at a Hard Rock Cafe. Next is the locations we have. There is no restriction of an employee of a client wherein he/she can operate through just one centre. Such flexibility with regards to alliances with different outlets benefits not just the founder but everyone.

To give you a perspective, our largest competitor, Regus took about 15 years to come to 9,000 seats and we will get there in less than 15 months from now. By March 2018, we plan to get close to 30,000 seats. Another difference is that we have been able to convert not just the startup community, but SMEs or Small to Medium Enterprises as well, which is the backbone of the business today and some large corporates like FICCI, BNP Paribas, Snapdeal along with others.

Express Drives: Is it restricted to a minimum cap of employees who need to be in an organisation?

Awfis: Whether you want to occupy one seat or 100 seats, the choice is yours as our model offers that flexibility. Because our growth trajectory is fast, we are able to accommodate our clients in one centre or the other. For example, a client came to us and asked for 100 seats the same day. We did not, at that moment, have the requisite number of seats in that location and we asked if another location could work till the time we accommodate. It worked in their favour. In fact, another client had 200 seats in Gurgaon who is now looking at other cities.

So, the ability to expand on the go is only available with a firm such as ours because firstly, we don’t ask for any upfront fees and secondly, because of our growth trajectory and our path, as a client, you will always have enough seats available. In some cases, we have spoken to a large insurance company where they have setup 50 core locations with us. So they will take 50 fixed seats and the remaining, say, 150 seats can be given to other clients. Then 50 locations get setup that way. So, in a crux, changing the paradigm of real estate is what we are doing. Because the consumption of real estate today there are 130 million people working nationwide and considering they would require 100 sq ft of space, you need 1.3 billion sq ft of space. There is a complete mismatch here. Even at 500 million, there is 20 percent vacancy. So, the paradigm is shifting, but the real estate companies are not realising this because it is a large commitment that they do. For them to change on-the-fly is very difficult, but with a model like ours, the paradigm for a client can shift. If I am an SME and I have to accommodate 10 people, I will look for 10 seats. No one would say they need 1000 sq ft. So, that is the paradigm shift is happening.

Express Drives: Coming to the Awfis vehicle, lets take an example of an employee who is travelling from Mumbai to Delhi and then is headed for Jaipur for official work. Can he speak with you and take your 8-seater on-the-go mobile office

Awfis: The vehicle has a national permit and this can be done in the said example. It is as simple as you book a Toyota Innova or any other vehicle from a fleet owner. For four hours the charges are Rs 4,000, for eight hours is Rs 7,500 and so on. All one needs to do is go on to our mobile application, register and book the vehicle. The minimum we book it if for four hours. The most effective use we are currently witnessing people using the vehicle for their meetings as well as their city runabout. In fact, one incidence was a High Court arbitration wherein all members were picked up from different locations who went to the Judge’s house and the arbitration was done in the vehicle. The vehicle is a 26 feet Force Traveller that can seat eight people and has amenities like a washroom, conference area, wireless connectivity etc. all that would be present in an workspace. We are in the process of modifying a Toyota Innova which would be a four seater conferencing space with similar amenities. We are also looking at a Volvo bus which would cater to more people on the move.

Ride Experience: The Force Traveller is a vehicle that can be modified easily to suit a person’s need. Some people who purchase a Force Traveller, do it from the purpose of internal modifications that offers more space and amenities. The vehicle can seat eight people comfortably and amenities including a washroom are a printer, a wireless high speed connection, a television and arrangement of tea or coffee. This vehicle is apt for people who are on the move and want to be productive during their commute rather than spending unnecessary energy on travelling to their work. The concept of Awfis nullifies the situation of an employee to work less effectively and in the process give better results to their employer.

(This Awfis coverage appeared on Express Drives – Auto portal of The Financial Express on February 20 2017 under the headline ” Awfis: Working on the move.” You can access the full story here:

The decentralization of office addresses by enterprises

04 February 2022

The decentralization of office addresses by enterprises

  • Posted by Awfis Editorial

The pandemic has challenged the decade-old traditional workspace setup and design decisions by calling into question the purpose of large centralized office locations. With many organizations continuing with work from home in the long run, many companies are deliberating to plan for a post pandemic workplace strategy by revisiting the actual need for a centralized office as their workforce has been able to work efficiently for months by working remotely. In order to find a middle ground, most organizations decided to adopt a more distributed model throughout locations and geographic regions to better support employee performance and organizational resiliency.

The hybrid model of working recently gained prominence as companies began looking to move away from a single centralized office space in favor of multiple, smaller satellite offices that are strategically located in new and emerging markets. This trend kick started when corporates realized that workspaces, as we know it, will not remain the same and a standard work environment will no longer suffice as one-size does not fit all. On one hand, while Spotify is looking at work from home for long-term, Salesforce has opted for hybrid model of working. These decisions were undertaken as every company experienced varied facets of a work from home setup.

Few challenges that employees and employers across industries witnessed during COVID and how decentralization can help tackle them include:

Lack of adequate infrastructure – Most Indian households are not equipped to support a smooth work from home as they do not have the required infrastructure to help make WFH a sustainable option. Lack of high bandwidth internet, ergonomic furniture and security concerns forced many corporates to look for alternatives. In addition to workspace and ergonomic furniture, coworking spaces also offer amenities like printers, fax machines, concierge service and spaces like conference rooms, phone booths, similar to what you would find in a typical office while also providing multi-cuisine restaurants and open collaboration areas that allow for face to face conversations while maintaining adequate social distancing.

Cost efficiency – With the disruption caused by Covid, many companies had to let go of their large office spaces to maneuver through the uncertainty. To optimize cost, limit capital expenditure, upsize/downsize and enjoy flexibility in rental contracts, organizations are shifting from typical CRE models to look for a workspace that provides a win-win situation for employers and employees alike. In this aspect, coworking spaces are an attractive option as enterprises can book seats daily, weekly, monthly or yearly at coworking spaces basis their changing requirements at centres across locations.

Social distancing – Initially, work from home looked like an attractive option as it was safe to work from home instead of working from a multistoried office full of people. Despite craving human connect and the hustle-bustle of an office environment, employees confined themselves to the walls of their homes due to safety concerns. Bearing in mind that safety is of utmost importance under the current circumstances, coworking spaces are operating all centres with full preparedness to ensure 100% safety. Many tech and design advancements have been made to provide a touchless experience while following proper social distancing norms.

Convenience – The work from home experience led employees to realize that they don’t want to spend time and money in commuting. Instead, that time can be utilized to strike a better work life balance. Coworking spaces provide the desired flexibility and productivity while offering Grade A infrastructure, all at a stone’s throw away. Employees no longer have to commute for long hours to reach their workplace which results in saving on time and money.

Collaboration and social interactions – Almost a year into the work from home regime, employees started experiencing the downsides of the work from home arrangement. What started as an initiative for work life balance soon led to fatigue and burnouts. Additionally, coffee breaks and gossips with colleagues could not be substituted by phone or video calls which led to reduced communication or loneliness. Collaboration being at the heart of shared workspaces provides an environment where people from all walks of life exchange ideas and promote a culture of growth.

In lieu of the above challenges, a decentralized model of working came forward as the ideal option for the workforce. The result? Employees have access to all of the facets that make remote work desirable. The adaption of a decentralized model has fueled the demand for coworking spaces as they are an exemplary model for what a distributed network of workspaces could look like. Apart from aesthetically pleasing interiors and designs to facilitate collaboration while keeping safety in mind, coworking spaces can also be fully furnished and designed in accordance with the business needs and requirements to offer privacy.

The modern workforce has different expectations as compared to what employees had a decade or two ago. Likewise, large corporations now better fathom the benefits of a more collaborative and innovative work environment that creates an atmosphere where employees learn critical skills faster, make deeper connections with coworkers and people within their network, and feel more engaged with their employer and team. In this sense, flexi spaces can help a company improve its culture with a more innovative and unified spirit, driving everything from productivity levels to retention rates and talent acquisition. Additionally, as mentioned earlier, one of the most attractive characteristics of flexible workspace for large enterprises is the ability to customize the space to a company’s unique culture and needs. Coworking space providers will work with an organization to provide custom buildouts that adhere to an enterprise’s particular demands and expectations for the space.

Shared workspaces are a tremendous asset to large corporations that allow an enterprise to pivot according to a highly dynamic marketplace. The office of the future will be a network of smaller, flexible and safety-driven places that benefit both the employees and the company while providing multifold benefits to both the parties.

This story appeared in the 14 January , 2022 issue of Financial Express and is authored by Amit Ramani, Founder and CE0, Awfis. This article was originally published  at :The decentralization of office addresses by enterprises – The Financial Express

Covid reinforced need for flexibility & nimbleness

15 March 2021

Covid reinforced need for flexibility & nimbleness

  • Posted by Arathy Nair

How would you sum up Awfis’ journey so far?
When we looked at this landscape in 2015, we saw this as a SME solution, more than a start-up solution because start-ups at that point had less than 100,000 people in the ecosystem. So 60% of the commercial requirement was in SMEs and the rest was large corporate, mid-sized companies etc. So now we said how do we de-risk the model and that’s where the managed aggregation (MA) model came into play. We then started pursuing a part of our portfolio under MA. So between 2015 to 2018, that was the primary journey with SME focus. From 2018 we started seeing the trend of Managed spaces. So then our model evolved a bit where we did co-working centre. Third piece came when Covid happened which is our ability to provide solutions attuned to how people’s behaviour was changing.


What is the managed aggregation (MA) model?
It is essentially a profit sharing model where landlord was putting in the investment for infra build up. See one needs to understand that Grade-A real estate in India controlled by Grade-A landlords is 300 million sq ft (MSF) of the total 1 billion sq ft. Everyone talks only about the 300 MSF. India is a value for money market. So what we felt was that for that 700 MSF there was a big opportunity of being curated in the market which nobody was tapping.
Initial days were hard but today our credibility is strong and we are the only player servicing in the market, where you have a Grade-B or B+ facility with smaller floor plates and this could be not just be in CBDs, but in every commercial micro market. I think the fundamental piece is that there is a lack of trust in real estate. So the first thing we did was bring in trust. Second, we built a strong tech platform as well as a strong sales engine. Third, we were able to set up space which was more cost effective compared to others. Currently, MA is 60% of our portfolio and we will take it to 70%.

What has been your learning experience from Covid?
First, core is flexibility and nimbleness. You also have to figure out what if nobody comes back to offices. So those were the questions we were addressing, but at the same time we were pivoting for delivering and staying relevant for the ever evolving customer. For instance, the distributed model, Awfis at home solution, Awfis Transform and Powered by Awfis. We understood what was going to happen. We were able to do it as we were a pan-India player, we were a team of 200 people, we had strong understanding of customer base as well as real estate supply and demand. It’s not that everything worked out, but we evolved very quickly.

What are your expansion plans?
We were 30,000 seats pre-Covid roughly and we will go to 60,000-65,000 seats this year. We will double our footprint from around 2.5 MSF to more than 4 MSF this year. Also we will go from some 67 centres pre-Covid to almost 130 centres in 2021.

What are the challenges and opportunities for flex space?
Recently, JLL India said in a report that currently flex is 3% and will go to 5%. I don’t know what the ultimate percentage would be, but one thing is clear that it will grow from 3% in the next 3-4 years. Hard to predict but my optimistic view is that it will be 10% of the real estate industry. Second is the value of the brand, value of the network and the ability to deliver consistently for like-minded customers is important. Consolidation will happen and will be more with companies shutting shop rather than being acquired. Third, the customer base is not just SMEs and start-ups, but includes everybody even the government.

Final is the preference of workplace. Where work gets done is changing so work near home will become a reality and work from home for a small percentage will become a reality. Distributed work for every company is a reality. Also distributed work including in tier II towns is becoming a reality. For instance, we are getting queries from companies asking for 50 seats as a portion of its employees are working from Ahmedabad.

This story appeared in the February 26, 2021 issue of Financial Express  and was originally published at ‘Covid reinforced need for flexibility & nimbleness’ – The Financial Express

Why businesses need to realign marketing strategies to fit into the new normal

24 February 2021

Why businesses need to realign marketing strategies to fit into the new normal

  • Posted by Arathy Nair

With Covid-19 being the center of all our conversations with stakeholders in 2020, marketing has emerged as the nerve center of a brand’s pandemic response, across sectors. With a need for flexibility and strong internal relationships to navigate changing circumstances, it is imperative for organisations to realise crucial role that marketers play in connecting various parts of any business. From consumer insights and brand positioning, to building engagement and transparent communications, marketing teams, globally have delivered heightened value amidst the pandemic.


Adopting new-age channels of communication

In 2020 brands across sectors invested heavily in online marketing activations as compared to prior years, where marketers seemed to prefer a resource split between traditional and online methods of marketing. Even within digital marketing, content marketing was utilised as a key avenue to engage potential consumers beyond the product and maintain high brand recall. As we make our way into 2021, the marketing media mix will become more skewed towards digital media. While the overall marketing spends for real estate have reduced significantly, there is a shift from high investment channels like print, electronic and OOH to digital for its cost-effectiveness. Conventional marketing will continue to see decreased spend even post Covid but digital will see a considerable increase in spends by 50-60% in the future as brands will learn to look at it as the best marketing tool promising ROI evaluation. Most companies who haven’t experienced the power of digital media yet will use this time to lay the groundwork to engage with customers digitally be it through mapping the customer e-journey, creating 360 views or enabling online payments to attract more customers in the absence of site visits.

In 2021, a prominent trend will be the utilisation of machine learning to filter audiences for targeted campaign outreach. Implementation of machine learning in campaigns will help brands to improve both targeting and messaging by marketing to micro-segments with very well identified needs or interests.

Transparency and continued engagement amidst unprecedented times

This year, information sharing emerged as a key trend within campaigns with the growing universal inclination of customers towards sanitization, hygiene and social distancing. Marketers who were able to remain transparent of their policies and processes whilst keeping the end consumers informed about how their brand will ensure maximal safety amidst these times, emerged ahead of the curve. Brands need to be more cautious than ever in their communication with customers, emanating empathy and transparency in just the right amount. Marketing as the custodian of the brand has taken a centre stage in all kinds of communication going out to customers, partners and stakeholders across multiple channels ensuring consistency in the brand voice. The marketing team has become the first responders, whether it is crafting new ways of communication or being part of a Central Response Team to provide consistent messaging to customers. It can be the anchor, the voice of stability in such uncertain times.

In line with the above several brands adopted influencer marketing and advocacy as a key medium of customer outreach to maintain authenticity whilst also building brand equity.

Marketing will become the primary channel for demand generation

With limited budgets, zero business travel and social distancing norms in play, this is the time for marketing to hustle and step up to become the primary demand generation engine for the organisation. Sales will depend on marketing to enhance their reach and bring prospective customers closer to the table. In line with this in 2021, brands will curate 360-degree campaigns that extend beyond traditional advertising mediums and reflect across teams such as customer service and human resources, which deal with the two most integral stakeholders of any brand.

Embracing Agility

The year 2020 was privy to unprecedented times that disrupted all existing business plans, causing businesses across verticals to realign themselves to fit into the new normal. In line with this the year 2021 too, will be the year of constant re-invention. Brands who manage to stay ahead of the curve by adopting emerging trends and catering to the ever-evolving customer will emerge as successful.

This story appeared in the 5 January , 2021 issue of Financial Express and is authored by Sumit Lakhani, CMO, Awfis. This article was originally published at :  Why businesses need to realign marketing strategies to fit into the new normal – The Financial Express