With over 19,000 coworking spaces across the globe, shared workspaces have disrupted the commercial real estate with robust demand through 2019 and will continue to gain traction in years to come.
Shared workspaces have changed the landscape of the Indian real estate market. The growth in the commercial real estate segment in India is a testament of the demand coworking has garnered in the Indian market.
Coworking spaces are now increasingly a strong alternative to conventional office for the Indian workforce due to a perfect blend of tangible & intangible benefits including the various amenities, superior infrastructure, tenure & cohort flexibility, community networking opportunities and enhanced convenience.
In the last 5 years there has been a fundamental shift from coworking for only start-ups & freelancers to greater adoption by SME's & corporates who now form a large customer base for all coworking providers in India.
This shift in the coworking audience can be attributed to a few factors including a greater emphasis on work-life balance, evolved requirements of a workspace, flexibility in rental periods and expansion of seats while upsizing team etc. The key drivers for growth and immense success of coworking spaces can be attributed to the following factors
Workspace as a Service (WaaS)
Coworking spaces are synonymous to the hospitality industry with customers' expectations being similar to a hotel with an increased focus on engagement, service excellence and seamless experience.
The customer-first approach is one of the essential elements that has led to the success of shared workspaces. The ability for the companies to get a plug & play environment that is completely flexible for tenure, fully serviced by experienced and trained staff delivering a stellar experience for their employees makes coworking an obvious choice for all scale of companies.
With shared workspace, community members have access to a dedicated community manager, approachable & trained staff and welcoming & well-designed workspace which makes them feel constantly at ease and lets them focus on doing their core business.
Coworking spaces provide workspace as a service by providing warm and hospitable staff that is focused on timely redressal of any customer grievances resulting in great customer experience.
This leads to word of mouth referrals and builds brand credibility. In lieu of the ever-evolving needs of the clientele, coworking operators are now catering to different requirements across the spectrum of work and at the same time provide immaculate hospitality to their users.
Community is the most important pillar of a coworking space. Building a community and enabling collaboration among like-minded individuals is one of the major goals of shared workspaces.
The deep sense of community aids not only in building a healthy rapport but also increases the chances of discovering business opportunities within the community, further widening a company's ability to grow revenues.
The vibrancy of coworking spaces acts as catalysts in this process. The exchange of ideas, bonding over common interests and friendly community building exercises makes shared workspaces a preferred choice for new-age companies and large enterprises alike.
Coworking spaces can also enhance and boost productivity and creativity levels of individuals. Happy, motivated professionals end up with a long-term commitment to their job thereby reducing the cost in hiring new employees for organisations.
Utilising shared workspaces also helps in expanding the existing skillset of an individual as they might be sitting next to a diverse set of people such as designers, lawyers, entrepreneurs etc. The interaction with varied professionals leads to perspective building and solution-oriented thinking ultimately leading to greater productivity for the coworkers.
Workspace Management Expertise
Coworking has become an integral part of every corporate's real estate strategy. A deep-rooted understanding of the various aspects such as location, design, project management, IT services and facilities management are driving the success of shared workspaces.
Coworking space providers liaise with multiple vendors to provide a tailor-made, packaged solution to its clients, thereby, taking away the hassle of individually managing the many aspects of creating a workspace.
The integrated approach to workspace management leads to seamless service delivery and better customer experience. Coworking space format be it in existing speculatively built centres or the customised solution that are fully managed and curated for specific customer allows the community members to enjoy the countless round-the-clock amenities (housekeeping, pantry, meeting rooms, printing & stationery, Wi-Fi, CCTV surveillance etc.) and benefits at cost-effective prices without the hassle of managing it on their own.
Embracing technological advancements and offering automated processes is one of the major drivers of coworking spaces. Today, many coworking operators offer on-the-go apps enabled with real-time solutions and the ability to tackle routine operational tasks so that community members can focus on doing business.
The Gen Z & millennial consumer is constantly booking cabs, ordering food, shopping and managing day to day tasks on their fingertips and now the ability to book a workspace and be able to choose the duration, location and number of work desks makes coworking an instant hit with them.
A clear understanding of the key drivers in the success story of shared workspaces will further enhance and reinforce the initiatives of coworking players.
The coworking segment has grown by leaps and bounds and is only slated to gain momentum over the course of time.
According to a recent report by Anarock, the number of coworking centres are likely to double or treble in a couple of years and will continue to drive demand thereby paving the way for coworking's growth in India.
(The author is CEO & Founder, Awfis)