Redefining Business Spaces

13 October 2016

Redefining Business Spaces

  • Business Standard

Technology integration is the next big thing for co-working firms  

While informal office sharing has always existed, the emergence of co-working spaces has become the mainstay for start-ups, entrepreneurs, consultants and freelancers seeking flexible, budget-friendly and professional work solutions. The onset of co-working businesses globally was a step towards breaking longstanding barriers in commercial real estate replacing lengthy leases and security deposits by enabling just in-time use of space. Coworking players then took this to a new level by offering attractive value added services, attractive membership schemes, preferential access to member services, partnerships with other start-ups and mentoring facilities, among others. Now technology integration is emerging as the next big thing for co-working firms looking at creating a niche.

First, the creation and designing of co-working spaces itself has enormous technology integration potential with designers visualising them in 3-D formats from the very start. This helps them to create integrated systems with Building Information Modeling (BIM) that allows making visuals, construction documents and cost estimates in days rather than months. With new-age BIM systems the whole process enables creation of flexible spaces quickly and built in a pop-up format for just-in-time use.

App-based co-working services are still to catch up in India. They can enable users to browse, book and consume the space in an “Uber”-like format and efficiently manage it. Technology integration is also possible through mobile/web-based platforms that provide guided discovery to identify and opt for locations, services, timings and amenities allowing members to choose workspaces that best suit their needs. Through smartphone this cutting-edge technology can allow them an immersive virtual tour of the space, while picking the best seat/section. New-age technology is also making it possible to move around furniture and redo the spaces before occupying them.

Secondly, a mobile app-based community feature provides the opportunity for users to engage with other individuals or companies. As the providers and consumers of these services are located in a collective ecosystem it provides a trusted closed loop network of coworkers that can benefit from allowing members to interact, share knowledge, collaborate and engage incremental results.

Co-working space firms also allow users to analyse building access patterns, internet and printing usage, furniture usage, collaboration zone interactions and items bought through access cards, CCTV and point of sale. Access to big data can allow corporate and start-up owners to map and analyse user trends that can be beneficial in working towards solutions that enhance productivity. Co-working centres can also leverage technology by operationalising the centres to optimise expenses, manage quality and grow revenues.

Finally, the co-working movement has the opportunity to research and suggest improvements to “ways of working”, making users highly productive and delivering higher returns for all stakeholders. With technology, the communities (freelancers, entrepreneurs, solopreneurs, small and medium enterprises and start-ups) that form the core target audience for co-working businesses can facilitate crowdsourcing of ideas and deliver results that could change the idea of organisations, employees and the way work gets done.

The co-working movement is the start of a revolution which, if integrated with innovative technology, will result in redefinition of office space consumption. India is witnessing a revolution in the start-up and entrepreneurial culture. The anytime, anywhere network of spaces is here to stay and technology-enabled co-working spaces will provide the right platform to the Indian workforce.

This Awfis coverage appeared in Business Standard on October 13, 2016 under the title ‘Redefining Business Spaces’. You can read the story at http://www.business-standard.com/article/management/redefining-business-spaces-116101200859_1.html
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Amit Ramani live on Zee Business discussion panel on Startup India movement

25 August 2021

Amit Ramani live on Zee Business discussion panel on Startup India movement

  • Posted by awfis

Amit Ramani (Founder & CEO- Awfis Space Solutions Pvt Ltd) on Live Panel Discussion on Startup India on 16th Jan, 2016 on Zee Business

Amit Ramani Live on DD News discussion panel on Startup India movement

25 August 2021

Amit Ramani Live on DD News discussion panel on Startup India movement

  • Posted by awfis

Amit Ramani (Founder & CEO- Awfis Space Solutions Pvt Ltd) on Live Panel Discussion on Startup India on 16th Jan, 2016 on DD News

Awfis tapping into mobile workspace need

25 August 2021

Awfis tapping into mobile workspace need

  • Posted by awfis

It finds a spreading market here among entrepreneurs and start-ups, prompting rapid expansion plans.

With the proliferation of solo entrepreneurs and start-ups in the country, it was a matter of time before office space became another opportunity to launch a start-up, catering to the mobile workplace needs of these professionals.

There are others in this place but the Amit Ramani-led Awfis Solutions intends to be a clutter-breaker, with a managed aggregation strategy. Instead of focusing on the peer-to-peer model, the company intends to create a niche through this strategy in the form of ‘pro working’ spaces.

The company, with initial funding of $10 million (Rs 67 crore), currently has a network of 1,500 seats in Mumbai, Bengaluru and Delhi. It aims to take this to 10,000 seats across 10 cities. Ramani and Radha Kapoor are the key investors in the venture; the proportion of investment by either is not disclosed.

Managed aggregation, Ramani explains, is a practice where Awfis manages the properties in its network integrating services and technology back-end. In other words, while on the one hand the platform serves as an aggregator of office spaces, it also provides technology back-up and manages these spaces, taking responsibility for the end-user’s experience.

“The way we are different from our peers is that we take ownership of the user experience. Unlike rent a cab services, where a part of the operation is beyond the portal’s control, we have our staff at the properties to ensure the experience is good. This addition to the sheer scale we have achieved since we started in September 2015 and plan to achieve this calendar set us apart from the existing players,” says Ramani, founder and chief executive officer. Awfis has partnered with real estate developers which have unutilised space and hotels with meeting rooms to let out. With the former, the partnership is either on a rental basis or revenue share. In the case of hotels (Awfis has already struck deals with the Trident, Hyatt and Lemon Tree groups), it is a revenue share model. The booking back-end of the hotels has been integrated into the Awfis mobile app, which allows users to be updated on availability and booking, real time. In the case of real estate partners, Awfis invests in the infrastructure and ambience.

It says it has created proprietary Grade-A, highly energetic and inspirational community work spaces (1,500+ desks, across seven Centres, operational across Mumbai, Delhi, Bengaluru) and is working to ramp this up to 3,500+ desks across 15 ‘work innovation centres’ in these cities by March.

Each centre provides technology-enabled physical infrastructure — video projection, NFC cards, CCTV, high-speed internet, laser printing. Members get the benefits of using custom-sized multi-location workspaces on a flexible lease tenor, from an hour to up to a year (or more), depending on work requirements.

Additionally, Awfis has partnerships that provide its community members access to leading service providers in accounting, legal, recruitment, payments, web services, mail management, health care and insurance.

Ramani says their experience shows that in the metros, properties break even at the operational level once they hit the 40 per cent occupancy mark over four to six months. It varies from city to city, given the difference in property rental rates.

“Additionally, our capex is not exorbitant because we have used synergies from our family companies like Nelson Asia, which provides architectural design and consulting services. We also have more properties seeing good occupancy. Of the $10 million initial investment, we have used around $3 mn so far and the rest will be used to scale up to 10,000 seats by the end of this calendar. For the next phase of expansion, we aim to raise $40-50 mn, for which we will go to the market by September this year,” adds Ramani.

At 10,000 seats, Awfis will then be the largest managed aggregator of office space in the country, he reckons.

Office spaces under this venture are available on a membership basis, as well as an on-off basis. The prices range from Rs 350 a day to Rs 11,000 a month for work stations; meeting rooms are available for anywhere between Rs 500 an hour to Rs 3,500 a day. Where the partner is a hotel, the latter’s rate applies.