De-densification: A new trend in the coworking segment

Amid COVID-19, as work from home supplements the traditional way of working from the office, it is time to look at the de-densification of workspaces, a disruption in workspace design.
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The disruption created by COVID-19 posed a significant challenge for organisations of all sizes that were betting big on India’s growth story. With capital expenditure halted and millions losing their jobs, the scenario demanded organisations adapt to a revolutionary shift in office space dynamics driven by cost per sqft, space optimisation, and employee wellness.

Despite work from home, at best, a supplement to the traditional way of working from the office, the remote workforce worldwide was subject to a host of infrastructural and cultural challenges, like:

  • Poor network connectivity and lack of data confidentiality
  • Impact on teamwork, creativity, and innovation
  • And arguably the most critical, a sense of isolation

This leads us to the most critical question of all – What innovative workspace solution can enable the smooth re-population to the office, ensuring an increased emphasis on employee wellness?

We draw inspiration from Charles Darwin’s famous quote, “It is not the strongest species that survives, nor the most intelligent. It is one that is most adaptable to change.”

And in this resilience lies the answer — the d e-densification of workspaces, which is a disruption in workspace design and a projection of the future of workspaces.

Today, organised coworking space operators providing a complete business ecosystem are all set to re-calibrate their trajectories. Formulation of new techniques, de-densification of existing space inventory, and offering a more conducive and adaptive ecosystem to cope with these disruptive elements signals this new beginning.

An extended focus on health, safety, and wellness measures, such as enforcing regular hygiene and safety protocols for occupiers remain at the forefront. It is imperative to reiterate these measures daily so that occupiers see, feel, and experience an all-round safety-protocol in place.

However, what is truly a game-changer is to view this transition through an employee’s lens and offset challenges they face at each touch point in their work-cycle. This can help win over the trust of occupiers, facilitating the transition back to the office.

With the immediate attention on the physical work environment, coworking spaces have responded by ensuring the installation of 6 ft wide work desks with an 18-inch partition to minimise infection risks.

However, de-densification transcends more than just the physical distancing of the workstation. It necessitates a heightened sensitivity to all high-contact areas starting from the entry-point to the workspace, extending to other access areas, lifts, controlled corridor movements, common sitting areas and breakout zones till the final exit point at the end of the workday.

Various technology-augmented safety devices in place like the facial recognition systems and other automation running like clockwork not only adds momentum to this transition but, as observed, surprisingly speeds up footfall by over 30 percent Additionally, with coworking spaces being equipped with all the latest communication technology devices required by organisations of all sizes, occupiers save money on an otherwise expensive infrastructural investment for their remote workforce.

Occupiers that require employees to be present at the office working on core business functions also stand at a significant advantage when taking up office with a 24/7 accessible organised coworking space operator.

Here de-densification is observed through the optimum utilisation of seats. With each occupier being charged as per the number of seats taken up rather than the total number of employees itself, the efficiency of rotational shifts and flexible working hours come into play.

Today, employee-centric occupiers are heavily dependent on these organised managed spaces across the city in convenient business locations. In response to this, a new flexible working model has emerged that significantly decreases open-plan offices making provisions for smaller, more segregated staff groups to work from centres near home or clients based on their demographics. This has remarkably reduced unwarranted exposure while still ensuring to meet the productivity requisite.

The pandemic has undoubtedly altered the way occupiers and experienced operators alike are revisiting space management today. However, it’s safe to say that this optimistic step ahead coupled with the augmentation of modern technology will surely lead the sector to a recovery incline in the months ahead – and perhaps it won’t be long till we can return to our caffeine stimulated, buzzing office conversations!

Edited by Saheli Sen Gupta

(Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of YourStory.)

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