The year 2020 brought with it an abundance of challenges as well as opportunities for economies and businesses, across the globe. The resultant restrictions on movement of personnel and goods, led to agile businesses zooming out and emerging stronger than ever in the evolving consumer landscape, putting them ahead of the curve.
For most of us, at an individual level, it changed the way we socialize, venture out of our houses for shopping & dining and more importantly the way we work. Overnight we went from the watercooler camaraderie of the workplace, to working in isolation. However, with the rapid adoption of digitalization, India Inc. managed to remain motivated, productive and engaged even amidst work from home.
It is noteworthy that subsequent lockdowns and social distancing measures led to an inevitable shift in the concept of work culture and workspaces. With the exponential success that remote working saw in the previous year, one question that is constantly looming is – ‘Is there a future for the traditional office space?’
While a few businesses are considering returning to the office in the next quarter, companies like Twitter and Microsoft have in fact declared an indefinite work from home period for their employees, given that it is more convenient for employees, reduces fixed costs for employers and yields the same productive output.
However a large chunk of enterprises today are looking to adopt alternate options as the downsides of a work from home environment, both logistical and mental health led, have been noteworthy. Apart from a secure and vibrant work environment and community building, companies today are looking at spaces that provide flexibility and are near employees’ homes so they can avoid long commutes whilst also following safety protocols. For employees, zoom fatigue, isolation, lack of motivation and the yearning for candid conversations with colleagues are definite setbacks while for employers, lack of communication and logistical barriers are proving to be rather challenging.
For much of the workforce, remote working is not suitable in the long run as workplaces are not just about architecture and design, but they are meant to boost productivity, efficiency, and provide a healthy mixture of social as well as private space. Today, the working environment is not about space and furniture but, also about community building through a cohesive team.
The surge in demand for workspaces that are flexible and focused on sanitization, design and technology equally, has led to the boom of coworking spaces that are meeting the work requirements of individuals as well as large corporates. Leading companies are now considering a hybrid model of working to cut added costs while also providing world-class infrastructure and convenience to their employees.
Several large-scale corporates have already started shifting from traditional to flexible workspaces. Some companies have also been considering renting regional small offices and desks in coworking spaces that are located close to their employee’s homes. Such decentralization of the workspace is rapidly gaining popularity – under the umbrella of ‘hub and spoke’. The hub and spoke model is the ultimate hybrid combination of a centralized office location, regional workspaces, and a home office with flexi spaces supporting the needs and requirements of a regional or remote working space.
Apart from providing best in class amenities, in a present-day scenario coworking spaces have transformed themselves to meet the social distancing norms by keeping health and hygiene at the forefront. The current restrictions pertaining to the pandemic have accelerated the demand for digital solutions that enable flexi spaces to provide a safe working environment to their community members, so they feel comfortable coming to the coworking centers. As people start to return, workplace apps are evolving to include new features focusing on health and safety. Touchless technologies, wide-open floor layouts, and meeting rooms for enhanced safety and privacy have enabled a safe and healthy working culture which is further gaining trust amongst the community members and proving to be the ideal workspace.
The benefits of coworking add up to something pivotal for the world’s workforce. It’s an opportunity to reinvent the workplace, giving workers the stability of a predictable work environment, and the flexibility inherent to remote work.
As we pave our way into the future of work, coworking spaces are well placed to cater to entrepreneurs and enterprises alike by offering flexibility, choice of location, and motivation coupled with ease of doing business which will funnel the growth story for the coworking sector.
This story appeared in the February 2, 2020 issue of Bussiness World and is authored by Amit Ramani, Founder and CE0, Awfis. This article was originally published at : Awfis’s CEO on Future of Work With Flex Spaces – BW people (businessworld.in)