The New Office Address

24 August 2016

The New Office Address

  • LiveMint

Flexible,shared and plug-and-play workspaces are coming up across the country, offering individuals and companies space, connectivity, even recreational infrastructure.

Professional oasis

A different set of drivers are at work at Awfis Space Solutions, a year-old co-working space provider that opened two new centres in Mumbai’s Lower Parel and Andheri (West) in January and May, respectively. A former industrial shed in the now-gentrified Todi Mills in Lower Parel, Awfis leased the 10,000 sq. ft space and refurbished it.

Some 210 seats are on offer in a variety of work settings spread across three floors—fixed desks, flexi-desks, closed cabins, meeting rooms as well as collaborative zones for informal conversations. Glass partitions, and bright furniture add vibrancy to the atmosphere without compromising on the centre’s professional look and feel. “It’s an office that enables me to be more disciplined than working from home, it allows me to focus on work and meet other people, with infrastructure such as conference rooms for my meetings,” says Jagrat Patel, an independent investment banker who rents a single fixed desk at Awfis every day.

Awfis is founded and led by architecture and real estate professional Amit Ramani, whose mission is “to simplify access to quality office space by providing truly ‘just-in-time’ workspaces to create a disruptive, shared economy model that provides a superior alternative to conventional offices”.

Awfis’ Lower Parel centre is an illustrative example. The prime location, easy accessibility, excellent recreational infrastructure and affordability make the building attractive as a co-working space, says Ramani. “Co-working is just 1% or less of the total office market today. My belief is that it will go up to four-five times (in the near future),” he says. Prices here range from Rs.5,000 for a single desk to Rs.13,000 for a shared cabin, both for a month.

Suvojit Mukherjee, regional manager (south) for apparel brand Pepe Jeans, exemplifies this nascent trend. His six-member sales team operates out of a five-seater cabin at Awfis’ Bengaluru centre. “Our salespeople are always travelling, so we don’t need more space. I would need additional staff to manage an independent office; this space is very user-friendly. I looked at a corporate business centre, but it was very expensive,” says Mukherjee. Conference rooms at Awfis (in both Mumbai and Bengaluru) start at Rs.400-700 per hour, depending on the size—much more economical than their counterparts in hotels or business centres.

Not every co-working space, however, is frequented for effective pricing.

Ramani’s expansion plans are underpinned by two critical elements that are helping Awfis scale: “managed aggregation” models and the application of technology. To minimize risk, Ramani adopts “managed aggregation” models, where only half of the company’s current inventory is through straight leases (which can be expensive and, hence, risky for Awfis in an economic downturn). The other half operates through various types of “risk-free” partnerships with property owners, he says, including revenue-sharing arrangements and “waterfall” agreements, where there are no minimum guarantees.

Technology is the other buttress, and Ramani envisages most of his bookings being done on the company’s app in the future. “You cannot be a just-in-time provider without the app. It also adds pricing transparency to bookings,” he says.

(The above excerpts have been taken from an article titled “The new office address” published in LiveMint on 21 August, 2016)

Small-town real estate gets a pandemic boost

02 September 2021

Small-town real estate gets a pandemic boost

  • Posted by Arathy Nair

Come October, once its employees are fully vaccinated, consumer durables major Usha International Ltd intends to get a small team up and running out of a co-working centre in
Zirakpur, a satellite town on the outskirts of Chandigarh.

Zirakpur is a strange location to have an office for a Gurugram-headquartered firm such as Usha. “If you want to grow your business, you need to be strategically located. Zirakpur has great connectivity and is close to national highways, and it is part of the (Chandigarh-Panchkula Mohali) tri-city area,” said Manmohan Bhutani, sales administration head, Usha
International.

What is left unstated is a set of new post pandemic realities that have compelled firms to reconsider forgotten geographies. The persisting allure of ‘work from anywhere’, reverse migration of employees to their home towns and cost rationalization have all come together to push many firms to seriously consider a tier-2 strategy in recent months. The essential thrust of this strategy: diversify base locations, open smaller offices, hire local talent where possible and retain those who have relocated to their hometowns. The ‘Bharat’ foray is temporary in some cases. Usha, for instance, plans to rent 50 seats from Awfis, a managed workspace provider, instead of acquiring any new real estate. The Zirakpur base will be the 85-year-old consumer durables firm’s first-ever managed office space.

Property analysts believe that as more firms walk down a similar path, the increased job creation and expansion will create a trickle-down effect in several tier 2 towns, leading to a rise in the overall demand for housing, workspaces and warehouses. This will inevitably bring big town developers to India’s small towns. A recent report on the future of workplaces by the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce & Industry (Ficci) and real estate services firm CBRE showed that the expansion of flexible workspaces in small cities, which was largely a tier-1 phenomenon so far, will be demand-led. Driven by the availability of local talent and infrastructure, Kochi, Ahmedabad, Jaipur, Chandigarh, Indore, Lucknow, Coimbatore, Thiruvananthapuram and Nagpur will all see a rise in flex office stock, the report said.

Awfis’ founder and chief executive officer, Amit Ramani, said that in the next 6-18
months, a lot of firms will have some presence in smaller cities, even if the initial requirement is small. “It indicates a strategic shift. Companies want to leverage local talent in the so-called Bharat geographies. The requirement is (from) a broad mix of logistics, new-age fintech and healthtech firms and IT and tech employers too,” Ramani said. Awfis has recently opened a new co-working centre in Ahmedabad. The firm also plans to open workspaces in Indore, Chandigarh and Bhubaneshwar.

If offices shift, demand for new homes will inevitably crop up. Until now, India’s real estate market has been skewed towards just a handful of metros—Mumbai Metropolitan Region, Delhi-NCR, Bengaluru, Chennai and Hyderabad, along with tier-1 cities such as Pune and Kolkata. These seven cities account for about 70% of the overall organized residential market in terms of volume.

This story appeared in the September 02, 2021 issue of  Mint and was originally published at: Small-town real estate gets a pandemic boost (livemint.com)

Shared workspace concept catches on in India

25 August 2021

Shared workspace concept catches on in India

  • Posted by awfis

A few smaller developers are in talks with providers of shared working space as they seek to monetize underutilized commercial assets.

Shared working space, a concept popular among start-ups and entrepreneurs in the West, is starting to find takers in India.

A handful of smaller developers have initiated talks with providers of shared working space as they seek to capture the trend and monetize underutilized commercial assets.

US-based office rental firm WeWork, which announced plans to enter India on 15 January, is in talks with developers including Bengaluru-based RMZ Ltd and Embassy Group, Mumbai-based Wadhwa Group and K Raheja Corp., according to people involved in the discussion.

The Wadhwa Group, which operates high-end commercial office buildings in Mumbai’s Bandra Kurla Complex (BKC), confirmed that it is in discussion with the New-York based firm.

“It is at discussion stage right now,” said Navin Makhija, managing director, Wadhwa Group, refusing to divulge further details on talks with WeWork.

Spokespersons for RMZ Ltd and K Raheja Corp. declined to comment.

“We have no comments, confirmations or announcements at this point,” said a spokesperson for Embassy Group in an email response.

Similarly, a spokesperson for WeWork said, “We have nothing to share at this time but we’ll be in touch if this changes,” in response to an email query sent on 14 January 2016.

Some deals for shared office spaces have already been closed.

Last month, Mumbai-based Hubtown Ltd, formerly known as Ackruti City Ltd, partnered with office service provider Awfis Space Solutions Pvt. Ltd to create a co-working office at Akruti Trade Centre, a commercial property owned by the real estate firm in Mumbai’s Andheri East.

Awfis Space Solutions will convert the 12,000 sq.ft space into a 200-seater office area targeting start-ups or those looking for a flexible workspace for a limited period.

With a minimal fee ranging between Rs.400 per day for renting a desk to as much as Rs.13,000 per month for taking up a private cabin, tenants can have access to facilities such as a common cafeteria, meeting rooms and other office facilities within the building.

Hubtown, which has entered into a revenue sharing model with Awfis Space Solutions, expects the concept of shared workspaces to catch up in the next three to four years and says that it is looking at replicating the model in other buildings as well.

“It is a new concept in India. It is a bit of risk but globally it has worked pretty well, particularly in the US for the last four-five years. One thing that works with this model is the utilization of space. It is easier to give the space that is lying underutilized,” Rushank Shah, promoter and director at Hubtown Ltd, said.

Awfis Space Solutions has also leased around 10,000 sq.ft of space from Poddar Developers in central Mumbai’s Lower Parel area, where it is currently operating a 230-seat co-working office.

Around 30% of the total seats have been occupied in a span of less than two months since it began operational in December last year, said Amit Ramani, co-founder, Awfis Space Solutions.

“Historically, the idea of shared workspaces was more about a providing short-term solution by developers for their long-term clients. They would rent out a small area, provide them an incubation space for a few months or a year till the building is ready. Now they (real estate firms) want to run this as a business,” said Ram Chandnani, managing director (transactions), CBRE South Asia Pvt. Ltd, a real estate consultant.

The concept, however, will work better in some markets and areas than others.

Wadhwa’s Makhija said the concept of shared workspaces will find more takers in tier II and tier III office buildings where the rentals are relatively low. It will be a challenge to popularise such a concept in high-end buildings. Ramani agrees that grade A office spaces are not suitable for shared office spaces.

Awfis launches e-commerce portal for WFH professionals

12 April 2021

Awfis launches e-commerce portal for WFH professionals

  • Posted by Arathy Nair

Bengaluru: Flexible workspace provider Awfis Space Solutions Pvt Ltd has launched its e-commerce platform to offer work-from-home (WFH) focused products as remote working continues to be the norm in the wake of the second wave of covid-19.

The e-commerce platform is in line with Awfis being an integrated workspace solutions provider, the company said on Tuesday. It will offer a range of desks and ergonomic chairs from affordable to premium price range.

WFH furniture has seen steady demand since last year across different e-commerce platforms. In line with this, Awfis said it has launched a direct-to-customer opportunity for easier accessibility by the consumers, primarily professionals between 25 and 55 years of age, who are currently working from home.

“We are excited to launch shop.https://www.awfis.com/inspiration/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/shutterstock_3835072871.jpg.com in line with Awfis’ vision to be a leading integrated workspace solutions provider. Through this offering, we aspire to continue to cater to the evolving workspace demands of discerning clients, across the spectrum,” said Amit Ramani, Founder & CEO, Awfis. “Most of us today are facing the new reality of hybrid work models and working remotely is now here to stay. Awfis Shop is the first of its kind offering by a co-working player, which combines functionality with convenience to offer both individuals and enterprises with best-in-class products while working remotely.”

Last year, Awfis had launched Awfis@Home that provides the flexibility to efficiently work from home while replicating the setting of a productive office work environment. Till date, Awfis has sold over 2000 units of work-from-home setup and the success of the offline model has led to the launch of the new e-commerce portal, which is an extension of the Awfis@Home offering.

The online Awfis shop would cater to both business-to-consumer (B2C) and business-to-business (B2B) customers and will supply across all the key metro cities, Tier 2 and Tier 3 markets.

In the coming months, Awfis Shop plans to add more products to the platform.

This story appeared in the April  6 2021 issue of  LiveMint and was originally published at: Awfis launches e-commerce portal for WFH professionals (livemint.com)