India is witnessing a workspace revolution. Co-working or shared workspaces are the hot new trend in the cities, literally taking over from traditional offices. Those spacious private offices for the CEO and senior managers— including that much-envied ‘corner office’ which was such a status symbol – are no longer considered viable. The surprising fact is that co-working is not being viewed as a workplace practice suitable only for start-ups and SMEs who need the flexibility of tenure as well as rentals that a standard leased office space cannot offer. The shift in workforce dynamics (more and more people working remotely, for example) is also encouraging enterprises to re-think their workplace strategy in terms of developing a solution with a high degree of agility and flexibility.
The key benefits of co-working spaces have cost, infrastructure and networking opportunities and the importance of these factors vary from user to user. Freelancers primarily focus on the cost factor. For start-ups and SMEs, both cost and infrastructure are the prime consideration as shared office spaces in Navi Mumbai exemplify. For large corporations, travel or regular commute convenience is a high priority and hence prime office location is as important as infrastructure. This is evident from the growing trend towards shared office space in Mumbai.
Corporate establishments are opting for co-working spaces for a variety of reasons. Co-working spaces allow businesses to free up capital. They enable minimum fixed investment, provide ease of movement. They save on upfront operating costs and have the flexibility of scaling up or downsizing, as the economic scenario requires. Business centres are being re-designed to also meet the needs of the corporate sector, which can be seen in shared office space in Mumbai.
Further, the culture and environment of co-working offices are a major plus point for modern enterprises. Global-style amenities such as a gym, food court, gaming zone, even sleeping pads and crèche services, set them apart from traditional offices and help companies attract the best talent, especially from Millenials. These lifestyle extras can often swing the balance in favor of co-working spaces over conventional offices.
Other factors that make co-working spaces the preferred choice for large enterprises are the ease and alacrity that flexi spaces offer while setting up a new office. With global players increasingly wanting to enter Indian markets, a ready to use space with plug-and-play facilities is infinitely preferable to buying or leasing office space on one’s own which costs more, is more expensive and bothersome, taking an inordinate amount of time. Future demand drivers for co-working spaces are predicted as being from the fast-growing financial sector. Other potential occupiers would be HR teams, consulting firms, recruitment companies, legal firms, healthcare companies, web developers and digital marketing firms.
Co-working spaces are, thus, attracting two distinct types of clientele. On the one hand, there are start-ups, freelancers and SMEs driven by budget constraints, needing flexible terms and also high technology support. On the other hand, there are mainstream establishments doing a complete turnaround – who find modern, high-tech co-working spaces just the answer for their varied and fast-changing needs.
The workplace revolution is happening at a fast pace –every year seeing the growth of a decade. The CEO and the new entrant in the marketplace can sit side by side at the same table, bonding over coffee and exchanging tidbits of conversation. The exponential growth of co-working spaces means that working will never be the same again.