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

  • The Financial Express

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)

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Covid reinforced need for flexibility & nimbleness

15 March 2021

Covid reinforced need for flexibility & nimbleness

  • Posted by Arathy Nair

How would you sum up Awfis’ journey so far?
When we looked at this landscape in 2015, we saw this as a SME solution, more than a start-up solution because start-ups at that point had less than 100,000 people in the ecosystem. So 60% of the commercial requirement was in SMEs and the rest was large corporate, mid-sized companies etc. So now we said how do we de-risk the model and that’s where the managed aggregation (MA) model came into play. We then started pursuing a part of our portfolio under MA. So between 2015 to 2018, that was the primary journey with SME focus. From 2018 we started seeing the trend of Managed spaces. So then our model evolved a bit where we did co-working centre. Third piece came when Covid happened which is our ability to provide solutions attuned to how people’s behaviour was changing.


What is the managed aggregation (MA) model?
It is essentially a profit sharing model where landlord was putting in the investment for infra build up. See one needs to understand that Grade-A real estate in India controlled by Grade-A landlords is 300 million sq ft (MSF) of the total 1 billion sq ft. Everyone talks only about the 300 MSF. India is a value for money market. So what we felt was that for that 700 MSF there was a big opportunity of being curated in the market which nobody was tapping.
Initial days were hard but today our credibility is strong and we are the only player servicing in the market, where you have a Grade-B or B+ facility with smaller floor plates and this could be not just be in CBDs, but in every commercial micro market. I think the fundamental piece is that there is a lack of trust in real estate. So the first thing we did was bring in trust. Second, we built a strong tech platform as well as a strong sales engine. Third, we were able to set up space which was more cost effective compared to others. Currently, MA is 60% of our portfolio and we will take it to 70%.

What has been your learning experience from Covid?
First, core is flexibility and nimbleness. You also have to figure out what if nobody comes back to offices. So those were the questions we were addressing, but at the same time we were pivoting for delivering and staying relevant for the ever evolving customer. For instance, the distributed model, Awfis at home solution, Awfis Transform and Powered by Awfis. We understood what was going to happen. We were able to do it as we were a pan-India player, we were a team of 200 people, we had strong understanding of customer base as well as real estate supply and demand. It’s not that everything worked out, but we evolved very quickly.

What are your expansion plans?
We were 30,000 seats pre-Covid roughly and we will go to 60,000-65,000 seats this year. We will double our footprint from around 2.5 MSF to more than 4 MSF this year. Also we will go from some 67 centres pre-Covid to almost 130 centres in 2021.

What are the challenges and opportunities for flex space?
Recently, JLL India said in a report that currently flex is 3% and will go to 5%. I don’t know what the ultimate percentage would be, but one thing is clear that it will grow from 3% in the next 3-4 years. Hard to predict but my optimistic view is that it will be 10% of the real estate industry. Second is the value of the brand, value of the network and the ability to deliver consistently for like-minded customers is important. Consolidation will happen and will be more with companies shutting shop rather than being acquired. Third, the customer base is not just SMEs and start-ups, but includes everybody even the government.

Final is the preference of workplace. Where work gets done is changing so work near home will become a reality and work from home for a small percentage will become a reality. Distributed work for every company is a reality. Also distributed work including in tier II towns is becoming a reality. For instance, we are getting queries from companies asking for 50 seats as a portion of its employees are working from Ahmedabad.

This story appeared in the February 26, 2021 issue of Financial Express  and was originally published at ‘Covid reinforced need for flexibility & nimbleness’ – The Financial Express

Why businesses need to realign marketing strategies to fit into the new normal

24 February 2021

Why businesses need to realign marketing strategies to fit into the new normal

  • Posted by Arathy Nair

With Covid-19 being the center of all our conversations with stakeholders in 2020, marketing has emerged as the nerve center of a brand’s pandemic response, across sectors. With a need for flexibility and strong internal relationships to navigate changing circumstances, it is imperative for organisations to realise crucial role that marketers play in connecting various parts of any business. From consumer insights and brand positioning, to building engagement and transparent communications, marketing teams, globally have delivered heightened value amidst the pandemic.


Adopting new-age channels of communication

In 2020 brands across sectors invested heavily in online marketing activations as compared to prior years, where marketers seemed to prefer a resource split between traditional and online methods of marketing. Even within digital marketing, content marketing was utilised as a key avenue to engage potential consumers beyond the product and maintain high brand recall. As we make our way into 2021, the marketing media mix will become more skewed towards digital media. While the overall marketing spends for real estate have reduced significantly, there is a shift from high investment channels like print, electronic and OOH to digital for its cost-effectiveness. Conventional marketing will continue to see decreased spend even post Covid but digital will see a considerable increase in spends by 50-60% in the future as brands will learn to look at it as the best marketing tool promising ROI evaluation. Most companies who haven’t experienced the power of digital media yet will use this time to lay the groundwork to engage with customers digitally be it through mapping the customer e-journey, creating 360 views or enabling online payments to attract more customers in the absence of site visits.

In 2021, a prominent trend will be the utilisation of machine learning to filter audiences for targeted campaign outreach. Implementation of machine learning in campaigns will help brands to improve both targeting and messaging by marketing to micro-segments with very well identified needs or interests.

Transparency and continued engagement amidst unprecedented times

This year, information sharing emerged as a key trend within campaigns with the growing universal inclination of customers towards sanitization, hygiene and social distancing. Marketers who were able to remain transparent of their policies and processes whilst keeping the end consumers informed about how their brand will ensure maximal safety amidst these times, emerged ahead of the curve. Brands need to be more cautious than ever in their communication with customers, emanating empathy and transparency in just the right amount. Marketing as the custodian of the brand has taken a centre stage in all kinds of communication going out to customers, partners and stakeholders across multiple channels ensuring consistency in the brand voice. The marketing team has become the first responders, whether it is crafting new ways of communication or being part of a Central Response Team to provide consistent messaging to customers. It can be the anchor, the voice of stability in such uncertain times.

In line with the above several brands adopted influencer marketing and advocacy as a key medium of customer outreach to maintain authenticity whilst also building brand equity.

Marketing will become the primary channel for demand generation

With limited budgets, zero business travel and social distancing norms in play, this is the time for marketing to hustle and step up to become the primary demand generation engine for the organisation. Sales will depend on marketing to enhance their reach and bring prospective customers closer to the table. In line with this in 2021, brands will curate 360-degree campaigns that extend beyond traditional advertising mediums and reflect across teams such as customer service and human resources, which deal with the two most integral stakeholders of any brand.

Embracing Agility

The year 2020 was privy to unprecedented times that disrupted all existing business plans, causing businesses across verticals to realign themselves to fit into the new normal. In line with this the year 2021 too, will be the year of constant re-invention. Brands who manage to stay ahead of the curve by adopting emerging trends and catering to the ever-evolving customer will emerge as successful.

This story appeared in the 5 January , 2021 issue of Financial Express and is authored by Sumit Lakhani, CMO, Awfis. This article was originally published at :  Why businesses need to realign marketing strategies to fit into the new normal – The Financial Express

Coworking: This startup makes shared workspaces more affordable for SMEs; launches new offer

16 September 2019

Coworking: This startup makes shared workspaces more affordable for SMEs; launches new offer

  • Posted by Awfis Editorial
Coworking spaces in India will be hosting 13.5 million users by 2020 as the demand for flexible offices – including coworking spaces and serviced offices – is growing faster in the Asia Pacific than anywhere else in the world.

 Coworking space provider Awfis in order to boost its enterprise and SME customer base will offer a 15 per cent discount on work desks (cabins, flexible & fixed seats), 20 per cent discount on meeting rooms and another 15 per cent discount on Awfis Mobility Solution products such as Awfis roaming, National Pass, Virtual office spaces, Bulk Meeting Room Hours etc., for Mastercard business cardholders. The offer would be applicable across the company’s 63 centres in 9 cities.“Coupled with Mastercard’s long-standing experience in electronic payments globally, the association targets to offer tailor-made solutions to drive thriving business opportunities, the company announced in a statement. The partnership with Mastercard allows Awfis “to reach out to the widespread user base through their extended network, which will, in turn, benefit from this collaboration with enhanced opportunities on offer,” said Amit Ramani, CEO & Founder, Awfis.

The development gains significance given the increased focus of the government on helping the MSME sector grow with respect to technology adoption, solving for delayed payments issue along with providing mentoring and handholding in scaling online. “MSMEs are a vital force for propelling India’s journey from cash to digital, and Mastercard’s commercial card business caters to this growing segment,” said Aman Ahuja, Vice President, Market Product Management, South Asia, Mastercard.

Coworking spaces in India will be hosting 13.5 million users by 2020 according to 2018 estimates by real estate services company JLL as the demand for flexible offices – including co-working spaces and serviced offices – is growing faster in the Asia Pacific than anywhere else in the world. “In India, the growth of flexible office space is expected to grow at 40 – 50% in 2018,” according to a JLL report. Around half of 13.5 million users will be from enterprises and would likely acquire 10.3 million seats. Freelancers and SMEs would have 1.5 million users worth of demand even as startups are likely to have a demand of nearly 100,000 seats by 2020.

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