How Traditional Offices’ Loss Became the Co­working Spaces’ Gain

18 September 2018

How Traditional Offices’ Loss Became the Co­working Spaces’ Gain

  • Hindustan Times

EVOLVING SPACE: Welcome to the world of collaborative working or co­working where your next­door neighbour is not a colleague from the same company but another start up, medium sized company or an entrepreneur

The traditional office space has for long been characterized by lack of flexibility, scalability and affordability. The constraints of conventional work spaces has translated to opportunity for co-working spaces which has indeed become the buzzword in today’s office real estate. Imagine a space with multiple breakout zones, travel-desk, concierge, café, gym, spa, gaming zone, brewery, crèche, shuttle service to last mile metro station and even ‘meditation and frustration’ zones for warding off Monday blues. No, these are not features of an upmarket lifestyle apartments but rather a fast growing brand operating co-working spaces in the country. According to Sudeep Singh, CEO, GoWork, “We believe in giving significant focus to the individual, apart from the work.” Their current clientele includes the likes of Zomato, Paytm, FlyingFur, Impactify, Lifelong, Fixoo, etc. Flexibility is the name of the game with packages designed for use as varied from a daily to a monthly to an annual basis. For instance they have a package called Day Tripper (at Rs. 350 per day), Tourist (at Rs. 3,750 for ten days), Resident (at Rs. 6,500 for a month), Citizen (an exclusive membership, at a price of Rs. 8,250), Minister (one’s personal space at a price of Rs. 10,000) and Virtual Office (at Rs. 2,500).

Welcome to the world of collaborative working or co-working where your next-door neighbour is not a colleague from the same company but another start up, medium sized company or an entrepreneur. Typically, it is attractive to start ups, small and medium companies or work-at-home professionals, independent practitioners who end up working in relative isolation. Coworking is not only about the physical place, but about establishing a community.

Why and how did this concept happen? Creators of co-working space have us believe that for a long time small and medium scale companies (SMEs) have struggled existing with the conventional office format. “It’s a correction over all the mistakes made by the providers of conventional office spaces as well as business centres.” According to Amit Ramani, Founder, Awfis, a co-working space spread across nine cities- “It’s a huge refinement over the business centre model which could not deliver on its promises of being either reasonable or flexible work space. A business centre was characterised by minimum 12 month lock-in period, an entry fee, an exit fee, and additional charges for tea/coffee and conference rooms with the basic structure designed to be opaque cabins rather than interactive work spaces. Now everything wrong with conventional office real estate in India is sorted with co-working spaces. Co-working spaces allows you to use a space from as low as one hour to five years. The lowest entry point is one hour. Also the charges are as low as Rs 5,000 for a flexi seat per month and you can even use a four seater cabin for a day at Rs 450 with beverages and wi- fi included. The third factor is they are accessible. Co working spaces are present in virtually every popular micromarket in a city – so if I stay in Vasant Kunj, I want my office to be in Vasant Kunj. Hence we make sure our offices are accessible and we are present in major micromarkets such as Mayur Vihar, Vasant Kunj, Gurugram etc.”

The co-working spaces typically offer four formats of working space. First is the flexi seat which is not dedicated work station but has locker space available for a month at Rs 5,000. Second is the fixed seat which comes at Rs 7,000-12,000/month. Third is the Cabin seat with a two seater, four seater, six seater available for anything between Rs 8,000-20,000/month and finally the Bespoke spaces which are the underutilised spaces in hotels and malls converted to shared workspaces example Awfis has some work- space at Taj Deccan and malls in Mumbai, Pune. However the prices vary across coworking space providers. At GoWork, where a standard single cubicle with a couch at a space of 120 sq ft comes at Rs 12,000 per seat for a professional, there is also a package of Rs 16,000 where one can get unlimited beer* (*3 beers a day). For C-level employees, there are premium packages are available at Rs 30,000- 45,000 per seat.

Another co-working space called Co-Offiz which has office centres at Preet Vihar, Netaji Subhash Palce and Janak Puri has very competitive charges. According to Prachi Agrawal Co-Founder- “Our plan starts at Rs 400/day pass. We also offer free trial for our clients. We charge Rs 7,500 per seat for private cabins and Rs 5,500 for open seats.”

Who are the biggest takers of co-working spaces? The biggest consumers are SMEs or small and medium enterprises. Besides, start-ups, freelancers and entrepreneurs are also target audience. Recently Priti Paul, Director Apeejay Surrendra Group launched a co-working space called ABC at Cyber- hub, Gurugram (after Kolkata and Hyderabad) with special privileges tailor made for women entrepreneurs and those that women-led and women owned start-ups. Says Paul, “I feel that women can thrive only in uniquely positioned work spaces. My co-working space is for WWW or “wonder women at work” who have to juggle it all. My aim has been to create a woman and family-friendly collaborative co-working office space and the ‘ABC for Women at Work’ scheme creates the conditions for life-work-health balance with mentoring sessions, Yoga, wellness, self-defence workshops, besides getting books, grocery and healthy food delivered to their ABC work- space at discounted rates. These are a few of life enhancing services.”

An important feature of co-working spaces is interactivity that is attained through inclusive design, and engaging activities. A wine tasting session on the weekend, a culinary week with MasterChef competitions, to a morning fitness party are all ways to build bonds within the co-working community.

Publication: Hindustan Times
Date: 15th September, 2018

Co-working goes cross-country

30 November 2018

Co-working goes cross-country

  • Posted by Awfis Editorial

As start-ups sprout in non-metro cities, entrepreneurship catches on, companies based in the metros are offering them workspaces too

Last August, Gorakhpur got its first co-working space, Startup Cafe. When Arunn Guptaa, 30, launched it, he had to start from scratch – the concept didn’t really exist in all of eastern Uttar Pradesh.
“Many weren’t aware of the term. So I made animation video tutorials explaining it and posted them on social media, WhatsApp groups and took out advertisements in local newspapers,” says Guptaa, a graduate in business studies who has previously worked with major e-commerce platforms. Now, 50 people – start-ups and freelancer – work out of the 2,500-sq-ft space.

Awfis, which has made its mark with multiple spaces in the metros, launched an outpost in Chandigarh earlier this month. They already have centres in Hyderabad and Pune. Within three months, they plan to foray into Ahmedabad and after that, non-metros like Jaipur, Bhubaneswar, Kochi and Indore.

Elsewhere, young entrepreneurs are launching co-working spaces in cities like Surat, Rajkot, Udaipur and Panaji. They’re offering services like GST registration, incorporating local elements in designs and layout, and organising networking events to boost local start-up ecosystem.

LESS IS MORE
According to a research report for 2017-18 by real-estate services firm JLL, there are approximately 350 co-working players / service providers operating an estimated 500 shared workspaces across the country, compared to less than 30 centres in 2010. The bulk of this segment is restricted to seven cities – Mumbai, Delhi/ NCR, Bengaluru, Chennai, Pune, Hyderabad and Kolkata. But smaller markets like Jaipur, Chandigarh, Ahmedabad, Kochi are expected to see a boom in this segment, the research suggests.

“The entrepreneurial spirit in smaller cities has exponentially increased their potential to be up-and-coming hubs of co-working spaces,” says Amit Ramani, CEO and founder of Awfis.
Akshit Mehta, founder of Vorq Space that has two co-working centres in Mumbai, agrees. “A NASSCOM report says that lndia is expected to have as many as 11,000 start-ups in the tech domain alone by 2020, of which a significant number will be based in non-metro cities,” he says.

Responding to this potential, Mehta has chalked out a plan to penetrate non-metros markets. “By 2020, we want to open 10 more co-working spaces. The focus locations in the first phase are Arpora in Goa, Surat, Nashik and Puducherry.”
Availability of space, high speed internet and more importantly, low-cost leases, are also encouraging entrepreneurs to focus on non-metros. “Government initiatives like smart cities mission have enhanced real-estate growth in these regions, making it easier to provide Grade A workspaces at affordable prices,” Ramani says.

YES AND NO
Based on the non-metro markets they are in, the spaces also feature local elements in their design.
At 9lSpringboard in Panaji, vibrant murals sport anchors and lighthouses. “Cultural sensibility also plays an important role,” says Ramani.

Launching co-working space in a non-metro has its risks and challenges, though. The first is familiarising locals with the concept. “Explaining benefits was a big challenge,” says Abhinandan Gupta, 28, founder and CEO of Adited, which launched its first space in Indore, a 34-seater, in November 2015 and now has three spaces in that city. “For first three months, we had just two small IT companies working with us. So we started focusing on networking events, which helped us build good reach. We reached 100% occupancy at our first branch in about six months.”
Once they understand it, the formula offers a win-win for the growing number of entrepreneurs in non-metro cities – they get office space without hassle of running it themselves or maintaining it; plus, they can network with other entrepreneurs at no extra cost.

Interior designer Anubhav Suri has been working out of a co-working space with a team of three members at Startup Café in Gorakhpur for five months. “Monthly rental for a 200-sq-ft office space would be Rs 20,000. I’d have to spend extra on infrastructure and amenities. Here, I can rent a fully equipped cabin for Rs 5,000 per month,” he says.

The above article was published in Hindustan Times- Mumbai Edition on 30th November 2018

India Inc turns to co-working spaces

13 September 2017

India Inc turns to co-working spaces

  • Posted by Awfis Editorial

Co-working spaces attract bigger companies looking to save cost

Co-working spaces can save around 20-25% of real estate costs, says JLL India report

 

Mumbai: Co-working spaces, so far popular with start-ups and entrepreneurs, are increasingly attracting larger companies as well, as mobile work forces and cost savings encourage many organizations to try out new ways of work. According to office solutions providers and consultants, many companies are going for flexible shared office spaces with no long-term leases and without any fixed capital investment. Co-working spaces can save around 20-25% of real estate costs, says a 7 July report by property consultant JLL India.

Media company Discovery Communications, Inc. has booked around 150 seats at an upcoming shared office premises from WeWork at Mumbai’s Bandra Kurla Complex (BKC), two people aware of the development said, on the condition of anonymity. In January, WeWork, a US-based co-working space provider, leased the entire 16-storey ENAM Sambhav tower in BKC and plans to start offering office spaces with 2,000 seats starting September. A Discovery Communications spokesperson did not respond to email queries on the development.

WeWork’s India lead Juggy Marwaha declined to comment on the deal, but said that many large firms increasingly prefer shared work spaces due to the limited availability of quality offices in prime locations and also “to understand and incorporate start-up culture into their organisations.” “We are in a scenario where good quality spaces are not available in the market. Vacancy levels are down in almost every market. Co-working spaces offer a good solution not only to start-ups and freelancers but also to large enterprises for short-term requirements like 12-18 months,” said Marwaha.

In July, WeWork opened its first centre in Bengaluru with 2,300 seats, of which 90% has already been occupied. Two more centres in Bengaluru are in the pipeline, he said. The company has also leased an entire four-storey commercial property at Andheri, which previously housed the headquarters of broadcaster Star TV India, to set up its second co-working office in Mumbai. Marwaha said the new place would start operation by December this year and would have around 800 seats.

Sumit Lakhani, chief marketing officer of co-working services provider Awfis Space Solutions, agreed that many large firms are finding such spaces cost effective. Awfis, which started operations in 2015, operates in 30 centres with total seat of around 10,000 seats. “One of the things that we have seen is that companies do prefer to have their own headquarters where they don’t mind investing in resources and managing the whole space. However, with respect to offices across various other cities, they prefer to take co-working offices,” he said. In the last two years, several big and mid-sized firms have used co-working spaces particularly for their sales force and other mobile staff. In late 2015, apparel firm Pepe Jeans took around six seats at one of the centres run by Awfis in Benguluru. Since then, it has made the space its South India regional office. It also plans to take up few seats at one of the upcoming Awfis centres in Kolkata and turn it into a branch office for the eastern region. This month, Awfis also leased over 23000 sq.ft in Crescenzo, a commercial office building in BKC, Lakhani said.

 

“Our sales forces are spread across the country and for that, we don’t need a big office. Taking up a co-working space is cost-effective for us. Secondly, leasing an office comes with the additional headache of maintaining the place, additional manpower, deposits, registrations etc.,” said Suvojit Mukherjee, regional manager (South India), Pepe Jeans Ltd, adding he is able to save around Rs 20-25,000 every month as compared to leasing space at a prime office building in Bengaluru.

Gurugram-based food tech company Zomato said two of its teams of 20 each in Mumbai and Kolkata operate out of co-working centres run by Awfis.

“Co-working spaces come with a plug-and-play set-up and offer most amenities that a functional office needs, and the overhead of lease lock-ins, and furnishing etc is also lower since we have smaller teams working out of these spaces,” a Zomato spokesperson said in an email response.

According to Vikas Lakhani, co-founder of Gurugram-based Instaoffice Business Solutions Pvt. Ltd, nearly half of all desks are vacant in large offices and most spaces are underutilised. “Now, they have started to realise this. With co-working spaces, you only pay for what you are using. So, you end up saving a lot of the overall cost of operation, ”he said. Amazon India, Yahoo and Dr. Reddy’s Laboratories, are among companies which have taken space at his Instaoffice spaces, he added.

Co-working spaces are becoming a new asset class in commercial realty

16 November 2016

Co-working spaces are becoming a new asset class in commercial realty

  • Posted by Awfis Editorial

FLEXIBILITY IS KEY

At most co-working spaces, you can just walk in and get to work, paying a few hundred rupees a day. Or you can opt for weekly, monthly and annual membership plans.

As more companies offer flexible working hours to millennial employees, fulltimers are driving up demand for these spaces. And some companies are even starting to use co-working spaces for branch operations.

E-commerce major Snapdeal, for instance, has booked an entire 90-seat floor at the Andheri West co-working space run by Awfis.

“It’s centrally located, provides good public transport connectivity to our team. It is also a well-managed facility, with extra amenities not available at our previous office location,” said a Snapdeal spokesperson.

Amid growing demand, Awfis itself has expanded. The 18-month-old venture currently has 12 operational centres and 2,500 seats across Mumbai, Delhi and Bengaluru, with a member base of more than 2,300.

“Business centres and coworking spaces have existed for over a decade but with a huge gap in amenities and cost when compared to those provided by conventional office spaces,” says Sumit Lakhani, chief marketing officer for Awfis. “With their open formats and advanced infrastructure, coworking spaces are now changing the game.”

At Awfis, the setup is informal and vibrant while the amenities include high-speed internet, video projectors, complimentary beverages and access to meeting rooms across India for members.

In cities like Mumbai, where space comes at a large premium and maintenance costs are high, co-working spaces are drawing startups and SMEs that need to scale up operations very quickly or spread out across cities at short notice. “Such spaces are a good answer to the affordable space question,” says Deep Kantawala, head of realty consultancy ICS Real Estate Partners. “Here, small enterprises can acquire space as needed and not invest in property in anticipation of future demand.”

Business nomads, expats and frequent travellers are another large demographic, adds Nair of JLL.

The above excerpts have been taken from an article titled “ Co-working spaces are becoming a new asset class in commercial realty” published in Hindustan Times on 16th November 2016. You can also read the story at http://www.hindustantimes.com/real-estate/co-working-spaces-are-becoming-a-new-asset-class-in-commercial-realty/story-MPIxqj2S7Y8eFs6pE98sjP.html