Not just start-ups, Internet firms to go for co-working spaces

23 January 2017

Not just start-ups, Internet firms to go for co-working spaces

  • The Financial Express

It isn’t just start-ups that prefer co-working spaces. Big firms, too, are attracted by the value-added services these places offer

E-commerce firm Snapdeal shut down its Malad office in Mumbai last year in October, to move to a new office in Andheri West. However, the only difference was instead of moving into a space owned by the firm, the team moved into a co-working space run by Awfis. Currently, about 90 Snapdeal employees work in Awfis’ office.

If earlier the role of a co-working space was well-defined, so was its clientele that largely comprised start-ups which, after taking their first step in the world of technology, wanted a rather cheaper roof over their heads. Not any longer. In fact, even companies in the business of providing co-working space have realised how large firms too are eying a spot in their offices.

Innov8, which will be opening a new co-working space in Bengaluru soon, claims to have created the space keeping in mind the demand of large firms. “There will be many private offices in the upcoming space in Bengaluru to meet the needs of bigger companies,” said

Russell Longjam, head of marketing, Innov8 Co-working. At Awfis, Snapdeal isn’t the only big internet firm to shift its team to a co-working space. Online classifieds firm OLX also has a 10-member team operating from Awfis Bengaluru. Meanwhile, a traditional firm such as BNP Paribas—a financial services company—too, has joined the co-working space revolution.

“Compared to setting up one’s own office, which would require a company to invest in rental, and other basic office infrastructure, booking a couple of chairs in a co-working space requires less investment. Hence, now large firms such as Snapdeal and OLX amongst others have started using the shared space,” said Amit Ramani, founder and CEO, Awfis.

Headquartered in Delhi, Awfis Space Solutions currently has 14 offices with 3500 seats. The co-working space provider has rolled out many packages for companies depending on their needs. For example, the rent of a cabin for a month with four to six seats is R9000-14000 a month. It also sells fixed seats (specific seats with alloted desktops) at R8000-10,000 a month, while flexi seats are being leased out for R4500-6500, a month.

“We plan to increase the number of seats to 7000 by March 2017 and 25,000 seats by 2018,” added Ramani.
Similarly, OneInternet is another firm which provides co-working space in locations such as Connaught Place in Delhi, besides Gurgaon where it has a 7000 sq feet office area and Bengaluru where it runs an office space of 25,000 sq feet. In a prime location such as Connaught Place, the company charges a rental of R7500 for a cabin with two seats. It also runs several packages for short duration, apart from selling individual seats.

“For instance, at a price of R8999, excluding taxes, a person can book one seat for 18 days,” said Himanshu Bindal, founder, OneInternet. While 80% of companies using OneInternet are start-ups, the rest are small and medium enterprises.

According to Bindal, OneInternet offices have 95% occupancy during the day and 75% at night. Day rentals come for a lower price. For Venture Catalyst, which operates a co-working space in Mumbai, these spaces also work as a centre for cross pollination. “On one hand you have start-ups setting up their operations, on the other there are companies which provide human resource services and accounting services to the same set of start-ups setting up operations,” said Apoorv Ranjan Sharma,co-founder and president, Venture Catalysts.

However, with too many players in the game now, co-working spaces have evolved beyond providing just a space and basic office amenities to offer value-added services.

“We have tied up with Amazon Web Services. The tie-up allows us to provide free credit to start-ups, further allowing them to use the cloud service. Additionally, we have facilities such as personal gym, break out spaces, etc,” said Bindal.

Meanwhile, Awfis claims to have cut deals with restaurants such as Haldirams and online food apps such as Fassos, apart from holding different food festivals. “These tie-ups allow the employees to avail discounts at various restaurants,” explained Ramani of Awfis.

Even as more players continue to emerge in the business of co-working, for Ramani and his contemporaries who started early in the business, the real game is about scaling up operations.

Agrees, companies like The Workforce Consulting Group, a human resource consultancy. “Instead of keeping the entire team under one roof, working out of a co-working space allows us to split the team so that they can be near key clients, which increases efficiency. Also, using a co-working space brings down the cost of operations by 50%, which is an added advantage,” said Ruchi Vijay, co-founder, The Workforce Consulting Group. Vijay’s team is based in Awfis’ office in Delhi.

(This Awfis coverage appeared in The Financial Express on January 23, 2017 under the title ‘ Not just start-ups, Internet firms to go for co-working spaces.’ You can read the full story at: http://www.financialexpress.com/opinion/not-just-start-ups-internet-firms-to-go-for-co-working-spces/518507/ )

Shared workspaces: 5 factors driving growth of flexible workspaces in India

30 April 2018

Shared workspaces: 5 factors driving growth of flexible workspaces in India

  • Posted by Awfis Editorial

Shared workspaces are rapidly becoming a norm in India; a trend that has successfully altered workspaces globally.

Shared workspaces are rapidly becoming a norm in India; a trend that has successfully altered workspaces globally. Infrastructure & networking opportunities, work-place flexibility and convenience, ever-increasing commercial real estate prices and increased acceptance of unconventional office settings are some of the many factors that are driving this demand.

With the fast adaptation of ‘shared workplace’ culture, even large enterprises are gravitating towards such spaces to consolidate their business. As per industry predictions, 2018 will see the shared workspace sector receiving investments worth USD 400 million. A report published by CBRE group highlights that shared workspace segment in India is expected to touch 10 million sq. ft. by 2020. Moreover, by 2020, the shared workspace industry is anticipated to overtake traditional format offices.

Here’s a look at some of the considerable factors that would be driving the demand and absorption of shared workspaces in India:

1. A win for real estate players

Contrary to conventional office buildings, shared workspaces are relatively utilised by a large number of tenants without any security deposit or lock in period and for a flexible time period. Shared workplace operators can expand in emerging and peripheral locations through a revenue sharing model that fits well for developers with high vacancy in non-performing buildings or micro markets. Turning the underutilized real estate space into an opportunity, these spaces yield higher earnings as a result of the income generated from the large occupants like big corporates etc. The decision to collaborate with such workspace providers heavily depends on the location, attractiveness, functionality and quality of amenities that the workspace is providing.

2. Flexible Workspace and aesthetically appealing activity based settings

Flexible workspaces provide one the agility to work anywhere within the workplace and do not require a dedicated desk of their own with multiple settings adapting to various workstyles. Flexible desks are community focused enabling greater interaction among fellow members yield greater productivity through agile working. Large corporates prefer flexible desks for their extended sales and branch locations with 15-20 member teams which provides a lower capital and operating investment, higher collaboration among teams and better access to potential customers. From flexible workstations, new age cabins, activity based setting including comfortable couches and beanbags, shared workspaces are building an endearing experience for community members with added amenities, collaborative culture and curated events. Shared workspaces today have replaced the dreary aesthetics of conventional offices to become a hotbed of creativity and productivity characterised by compelling design elements.

3. Co-work to network

Networking is an inherent part of shared working. More than providing just a space, one can meet like-minded people with whom they can co-create and develop their company’s next big idea. With developments in technology, mobile working and flexible operations, shared workspaces are an ideal solution for executing productive meetings. Companies are designing theme spaces and break out zones where teams can collaborate for innovative ideas to originate. Activity based settings provide a combination of areas for employees to take a break from work as well as exchange ideas with other co-workers. A well designed workplace plays a key part in inspiring its users to engage, collaborate and ultimately be productive. The complexity of urban centres like Bengaluru, Delhi-NCR and Mumbai with its traffic challenges and large disconnected central business district and residential zones provides a unique opportunity for shared workspaces to be used as an attraction and retention tool to get talent from a diverse base of demographics catchment areas. The 2020 real estate strategy for any scale business will draw lessons from shared workspaces to create spaces that are motivating, accessible, and deliver a customised solution that inspires the workforce to come to work.

4. Value for money

In India’s top metropolitan cities such as New Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore, shared workspaces can lead to approximately 20-25% cost savings as opposed to conventional office spaces. To cater to emerging businesses, start-ups and freelance professionals, shared workplace operators primarily try to address the on-demand needs of occupiers. Community members benefit from high quality technology infrastructure, strategic location, prime office solutions and amenities by choosing to work out of a shared space. The challenges are varied across various metro cities in India. In Mumbai the deposits are higher than other cities leading to higher upfront cost of leasing. Commuting remains the biggest challenge in Bengaluru. In Hyderabad, the supply of an office space cannot match up to the demand and in Delhi the tenant demand of high quality office spaces is growing stronger by the day. The ability of shared workspaces to achieve higher density, shared amenities & services with flexibility on tenure and number of seats eases the challenge of cost of ownership with extremely low entry point of flexi desk costing as low as Rs. 400-500 per day; adding up as a huge cost savings for occupiers.

5. New Kids on the blocks – Millennials

India is the youngest start-up nation in the world where 72% of founders are less than 35 years of age. Millennials matter because they account for over half of the population in India and by 2020, they will form 50% of the global workforce. Shared workspaces are where they prefer to work because it maximises their productivity with right exposure, network and community engagement without any organizational boundaries. Adoption of shared workspaces will be on the rise where top talents will breed on the coolest quotient of their office space.

The journey of shared workspaces has just begun across India’s business districts, office rentals are significantly rising leading all companies to rethink their real estate strategy. The ability of new age workspace operators to rethink, innovate and disrupt the traditional models of real estate to create solutions that will make workspaces flexible, accessible and affordable will lead to a surge in size, scale and reach of shared workspaces.

(By Amit Ramani, Founder & CEO of Awfis Space Solutions)

To read the online article click here:  https://www.financialexpress.com/money/shared-workspaces-5-factors-driving-growth-of-flexible-workspaces-in-india/1139912/

Awfis: Working on the move

20 February 2017

Awfis: Working on the move

  • Posted by Awfis Editorial

Awfis-Tempo-Traveller-Office-on-the-Move-main-image-1

 

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: http://www.financialexpress.com/auto/gallery/awfis-working-on-the-move/photos/558076/6/)