How freelancers, corporates, startups can benefit from shared workspaces

22 May 2017

How freelancers, corporates, startups can benefit from shared workspaces

  • Economic Times

The silent aisles of a conventional office have given way to a stirring revolution. Shared workspaces or co-working spaces, a concept popular in the West, has taken root in India in sync with the rapid growth of startups and alternative work modes in the past 3-4 years.

What’s a co-working space?
A shared workplace is a fully equipped office in a relaxed setting, as opposed to a structured, traditional workspace. The place can be hired by multiple entities—individuals, small teams or a large company— for a flexible period. One can hire a single seat for an hour or take up fixed number of seats for 2-3 years, while sharing the place with other companies or individuals in an open floor plan.

What began as an option for startups now encompasses entrepreneurs, freelancers, frequent travellers, work-from-home professionals, SMEs and corporates. “While 60% of our customers are SMEs, about 20% are startups and freelancers, and the rest are corporates,” says Amit Ramani, CEO, Awfis Space Solution, which has 21 centres and 7,500 seats across seven metros, and plans to expand to 28 centres and 10,000 seats in nine cities soon.

Co-working offices are being set up by small, local players and bigger companies with pan-India network, besides global players like WeWork and Spaces, who have recently set foot in India. Some of the more popular players in major metros include Awfis, Innov8, Regus, BHive Workspace, 91 Springboard, Bombay Connect, among others. Does such an office offer cost benefit and significant advantages for you to take it up or should you set up an exclusive office or continue with the existing lease?

Cost & services
A basic shared workspace provides infrastructure (flexible and fixed seats), tech facilities (Internet, Wi-Fi, phone, printer, copier, scanner, fax machine), housekeeping staff, eating area and common front desk or reception area. The fee for smaller set-ups ranges from Rs 4,000-6,000 per seat per month, while the medium-level players charge Rs 6,500-9,000, and premium spaces can cost Rs 9,500-15,000 per seat for a month.

The charges differ for flexi and fixed seats, and you can get more facilities for an additional fee. These add-on, paid services can include lockers, meeting rooms, 3-4 seater cabins, video conferencing, meetings in third-party locations, access to mentors and capital, as well as legal, accounting and HR firms, organising events, promotions and conferences, discounted parking spaces, gaming zones, and partnership discounts, among others.

“Shared workspace helps focus on revenue building without bothering about administrative work.”

Facilities : 7 seats, business address, Wi-Fi, front desk, meeting room, cafeteria, discounts on Awfis tie-ups
Charges : Rs 70,000-80,000 per month

The shared office allows one to focus on the business without worrying about securing funds for setting up an office or the nittygritty of managing it. “It offers a high degree of convenience because we can focus on building revenue without bothering about the administrative work of running an office,” says Rajas Kelkar, 43, who has a ninemember startup and has hired seven seats at Awfis in Mumbai.

“More than the cost, it’s the convenience that is the pull factor,” says Gurgaon-based Samir Mathai, who has recently launched a startup. “You can impress the clients with a good business address, don’t have to focus on office peripherals, and if you are with a bigger player and need to travel across the country, you can have an office in every metro,” he adds.

Agrees Prasad Walawalkar, Senior V-P, HR & Legal, in a research organisation, and part of the 65-member team at a workspace in Mumbai. “We can have client meetings in different cities like Delhi or Bengaluru because of the offices there,” he says. However, this option may be provided only by some players who have a countrywide network and offices in metros or tier 2 cities. A big benefit is the opportunity to interact with like-minded people from different organisations in the same workspace ..

Do you save money?
A more critical factor for startups is whether these workspaces translate to monetary gains. You can save 25-30% if you choose a small- or mid-level space provider and don’t avail of too many extra services. “Compared with a conventional lease option, we offer cost-effective solutions.Since the costs linked to a workspace are 5-10% of a company’s turnover, corporations of all sizes are looking at it as a strategic component of their business plans,” says Harsh Lambah, Country Head, Regus India, one of the oldest players in the market. “Besides, if you are a company of four and plan to grow to 10, in a conventional office, you have to tie in for 10 people from the start and are wasting space. We help these companies grow at their speed,” he adds.

However, this may not always be true as all workspace providers cannot provide additional seats as and when these are required. Moreover, the savings may not be substantial if you pick a premium office provider at a prime location. “By shifting from a premium workspace to a mid-segment one, I have cut down my costs by 30-40%,” says Kelkar.

Adds Mathai, who gave up a premium workspace at a good location in Gurgaon and opted for a commercial lease in a residential area: “We used to pay Rs 2.5 lakh a month for a five seater. Now with 30 seats, we are shelling out much lesser. The savings are typically higher in the long term.” Remember, the savings will be a function of the space provider, location as well as the services availed of. But if it’s convenience you want, opt for a shared workspace now.

(This Awfis coverage appeared in ET Wealth on May 22, 2017. The full story can be read here: )
Standing Desks are the New Productivity & Fitness Mantra

04 December 2018

Standing Desks are the New Productivity & Fitness Mantra

  • Posted by Awfis Editorial

Monday meetings were a bother for HR professional Runu Mehta. Her team of 16 would sit for two hours and discuss what they did over the weekend. Deciding to do something different, she took away the chairs from the meeting room.

“I made these meetings standing-only and found that the meeting time reduced to 30 minutes!” said Mehta, now head of learning and development at music label Shemaroo.

Standing meetings and standing desks have become popular over the past few years, not just because they increase productivity, but especially because of the perceived health benefits. “Sitting is associated with the risk of hip, knee and neck pain as muscles in those areas are in a locked position,” said Dr Balvinder Rana, additional director at the Fortis Bone and Joint Institute in Gurgaon.

Gunasekaran Jayaraman, CEO of ergonomical furniture startup Purpleark, said 20% of his retail customers get standing desks because their doctors suggested it.

“Using a standing desk has helped me focus better and I’m also sleeping better,” said Ayush, a software engineer at an ecommerce company who stands and works for 4-5 hours a day.

A year-long study by Loughborough University and University of Leicester found that people using standing desks reported less anxiety than those who used regular desks. The researchers surveyed 146 officials in the UK’s National Health Services, 77 of whom were given sit-stand desks while the control group of 69 employees had regular desks.

In India, one of the major drivers of this trend is international exposure.

“An executive goes abroad and he sees offices there using standing desks and so he comes back and wants one,” said Jayaraman. He said that sales have gone up almost fourfold month-on-month for the past six months.

In India, multinational companies are driving the trend, according to Jayaraman and office furniture company Steelcase.
Microsoft procured these desks for all its offices in the country after studying how employees used workspaces and what they needed to become more productive, said Marianne Rathje, director of real estate and facilities (Asia Pacific) at the company.

“The idea is to increase collaboration, creativity and productivity and make employees feel like part of a more relaxed, creative enterprise,” said Rathje.

The company’s employees had an orientation programme to introduce them to the benefits of standing workstations. “These are extensively used and employees love the flexibility to use their spaces the way they need to,” she said.

IT Company Infosys has acquired these desks on an experimental basis, said HR head Richard Lobo. Companies that don’t want to disrupt their workplaces can “convert” their regular desks to sit-stand desks. Some companies place a few standing desks on each floor so that employees can occasionally work there.

The popularity of these desks outs ide the corporate environment is still in its nascent stages, although the trend seems to be picking up.

Co-working space Awfis has 50 such desks out of the 25,000 or so it has in total. Awfis CEO Amit Rarnani, who uses a standing desk, procured them after his customers asked for them. This year, he introduced standing-only meeting spaces in his office in Powai. “They’re very popular, especially with the young generation, as meetings are much quicker,” he said.

According to Rarnani. Standing meetings will become the order of the day in four or five years as mobiles replace laptops, making sitting in one place unnecessary.

Still, there is such a thing as too much standing.

“Standing for more than 5-6 hours a day can lead to blood pooling in your legs. This can cause swelling, ankle pain and varicose veins,” said Dr Rana.

That’s why engineer Sumit Chuttani uses a standing desk at his workplace only once in two weeks. “It’s good to stand and work, but only for a few hours. Not the whole day,” he said.

For those with sedentary jobs, the best strategy is to alternate between sitting and standing and doing back-strengthening exercises.

This article was published in The Economic Times on 4th December 2018

Awfis Space raises $20 million more

26 July 2018

Awfis Space raises $20 million more

  • Posted by Awfis Editorial

Awfis Space Solutions, India’s largest home-grown co-working space provider, has raised $20 million in series C funding from its existing investors global venture capital firm Sequoia Capital, The Three Sisters: Institutional Office (TTS:IO) led by Radha Kapoor and Temasek Group company InnoVen Capital.

Prior to this, the company had raised $31 million through two rounds from TTS:IO and founder Amit Ramani.

In its maiden exposure to the company, the California-based Sequoia Capital had invested $20 million in the company last year.

In the latest round, the investors have valued the company at over ?900 crore. The recent investment will fund the company’s next growth phase.

Awfis has now scaled up to 25,000 seats across 55 centres compared to 5,800 desks across 20 centres in July last year. “The goal is to reach 40,000 seats across 90 centres from current 25,000 desks over the next one year. Deeper penetration into existing markets and expansion in new cities with focus on tier-II locations will be our priority,” Amit Ramani, founder of Awfis, told ET.

According to Ramani, they will follow a managed-aggregation model approach to ensure better capital efficiency.
Awfis is a joint venture between Ramani, the founder and managing director of real estate design consulting firm Nelson India, and TTS:IO, a family-run investment firm managed by Yes Bank founder Rana Kapoor’s daughters. Awfis had opened its first facility with 70 seats in Delhi in 2015.

To read the published article visit the below link:

Co-Working Spaces Go Extra Mile to Guide Women Enterpreneurs

13 March 2018

Co-Working Spaces Go Extra Mile to Guide Women Enterpreneurs

  • Posted by Awfis Editorial

The Economic Times - March 13, 2018, Page No 14