Why co-working spaces hold the big promise for corporates during COVID-19

Co-working spaces have became the perfect fit to reduce capital costs, place greater emphasis on employee wellbeing, and fast-track the adoption of flex working practices.
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Over the past few years, the co-working sector in India has consistently witnessed unprecedented success. While these spaces were already in demand among small businesses, entrepreneurs and startups, the pandemic and ensuing lockdowns accelerated the need among other segments too.

Some recent studies and reports have corroborated the facts about how the co-working sector is thriving

The pandemic has put some major focus on the need for flexible, accessible and affordable co-working spaces. During this period, even the most conventional occupiers started seeing the merit in co-working. As companies tried to cope up with the new normal, flexible workspaces appeared to be a practical choice. Amidst flexible hours, rostered shifts, and workspaces becoming closer to home, businesses were forced to re-evaluate their real estate strategy and adapt to changing times.

As corporates sought out alternative options to reduce costs and capital expenditure, the co-working industry stepped in to offer a host of benefits. Co-working spaces became the perfect fit to reduce capital costs, place greater emphasis on employee wellbeing, and fast-track the adoption of flex working practices.

Cost-effectiveness and scalability

Cost-effectiveness has always been one of the most prominent features of co-working spaces. During the pandemic, this became an even bigger driving force. With remote working becoming the norm, office spaces started being considered an additional overhead cost which not many were willing to invest in, at least for the near future.

Companies started looking at cost optimisation, opting for a flexible work structure where some employees would work remotely while others could work from a central location.

Co-working players stepped in, offering lucrative benefits ranging from affordable seating costs to robust infrastructure to networking opportunities. They provided companies with a hassle-free experience in terms of highly compliant, ready setups. They also enabled businesses of all sizes to save on capital cost while reducing operating costs by as much as 15-20 percent.

Flexibility in location

Another important advantage of co-working spaces has proved to be the flexibility element in terms of locations. While most companies have embraced work from home, some have had to come to terms with the fact that they would require at least a percentage of their employees to return to work. This scenario has given rise to several realisations within the industry.

There is now a rising demand for multiple smaller offices spread across the country instead of a consolidated office located centrally. Companies are looking towards co-working spaces to fulfil this need to de-intensify their current offices while adhering to social distancing norms.

Shift to Tier II and III cities

As work from home became the norm, most companies saw an exodus of employees who preferred to move back to their hometowns in Tier-II and III cities. Companies, in turn, started looking at expanding operations to these smaller cities and towns so that their employees could work while staying closer to homes. This gave a significant push to the co-working market in these semi-urban areas.

Most companies are now choosing smaller offices in various locations across Tier-II and III cities, which are close to the residences of their employees, thus facilitating easy commuting to work. Co-working spaces are proving to be perfect choices for this requirement as they offer convenience to both employees as well as companies.

Safety measures and amenities

Another area where co-working has fared well is on the amenities and infrastructure front. Even as India experiences a torrid second COVID-19 wave in many Tier-II and III cities where offices are still functional with reduced employee strength, safety and hygiene measures have become all the more important.

Co-working spaces are enforcing strict hygiene protocols and taking necessary precautions while adhering to government guidelines regarding safety.

Regular fumigation and sanitisation of premises, meeting rooms and workstations, constant temperature checks, along with adopting all other requisite safety measures to ensure the well-being and security of their customers are regular features. As a result, in metro cities as well as smaller towns, large enterprises, SMEs, and startups are increasingly preferring co-working spaces.

Compliance check

While compliance is a critical function for workspaces at any point, it is all the more important for co-working spaces. The list of regular compliances is already long with COVID-19 compliances being added to make the list even more comprehensive.

To put this into perspective, some reports from Ernst and Young have pointed out that more than 1,000 countries have issued over 350+ regulatory notifications to deal with the pandemic.

Co-working spaces have been putting their best foot forward to ensure that all compliance requirements are met. These include safety and social distancing compliance, regulatory compliance, identity and access management compliance, lift and fire NoCs, due diligence for utility connections, preventing cyber threats in the form of malware, data loss, and many more.

Working with reliable co-working partners has helped companies feel assured that compliance regulations are thoroughly met and they can focus upon their core business.

Fulfilling demand for dedicated spaces

Functioning from a traditional office space requires companies to deal with the burden of long-term lock-in leases. With most companies down-sizing their employee strength, they started looking for options like dedicated desks, flexi desks, and private cabins with all the necessary amenities at affordable rates.

Co-working spaces provide such safe workspaces that encourage people to plug-and-play, collaborate, and work together. The desks are also placed far apart, helping people practice social distancing naturally.

Sustainable model

As COVID-19 has challenged the traditional concept of office, there has been a surge in demand for co-working spaces from mid-sized and large corporations, that are looking at business sustainability. Most of these organisations wish to cut on overheads, and at the same time, maintain a workforce that works with sustainable efficiencies. Co-working players have been offering such models that have encouraged long-term commitments from larger companies.

New models for the new normal

The pandemic has necessitated most business segments to evolve rapidly, and the co-working segment is no exception. We are also repositioning ourselves to continue our growth spurt by launching solutions that address precise needs across the spectrum of work requirements.

We are introducing a new cost-effective solution that will offer smaller office spaces in remote areas in Tier-III, IV and V cities that are equipped with basic infrastructure amenities, including WiFi, and are self-operated. At a time when most companies have employees come in on a rotational basis, and therefore require fewer seats, such workspaces are much in demand in smaller towns.

Edited by Kanishk Singh

(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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