Pivot and Persist: this coworking company is setting up workstations at home due to COVID-19
In the past few months, business enterprises have demonstrated resilience more than ever. As the COVID-19 pandemic and the lockdown crippled the economy across the world, many businesses faced this adversity with fortitude.
Coworking spaces, particularly, have been hit hard during the pandemic. With social distancing and work from home becoming the norm, the future of coworking spaces remains uncertain, at least till the wave of the pandemic fades away.
AsYourStory continues to cover stories of businesses that pivoted and persisted, the story of Workshaala is an example of how a company emerged out of the COVID-19 crisis stronger.
Founded in 2013 by Manoj Khandelwal, the Bengaluru-based company is a co-working space. As most people started working from home due to the coronavirus, the company has come up with an initiative called ‘Homescape’ to provide furniture to people working from home. The company is providing tables, chairs, and desks to help improve the individual’s productivity and provide them with comfort and ease at the same time.
Edited excerpts from the interview:
SMBStory [SMBS]: What was the guiding force behind launching Workshaala?
Manoj Khandelwal [MK]: The registration of the company was done in 2012, but we started operating in the year 2013. After passing out from NIT Bhopal, I worked with large corporates like Wipro and L&T.
Thereafter, I started my own consultancy firm where all the employees used to work in some other co-working space. I realised that the place was not up to the mark and a lot of things needed to be fixed. That is when it occurred to me to start my own co-working space which would have better facilities, better customer service, and transparency.
The plan finally translated into something concrete when we started Workshaala with 40 seats in Bellandur. We have not bagged any external funding and that is one of our greatest achievements. Today, we have a total of 5,000 seats with a mixed clientele of startups and enterprises. We also expanded and started setting up offices for large corporates.
SMBS: What was the impact of COVID-19 on your business?
MK: We were planning to expand to Hyderabad, Chennai, and Gurugram, but all those plans came to a halt when the lockdown was announced in March. Subsequently, we started getting a lot of queries from internal customers about how people were having difficulty in setting up offices at home.
Moreover, lack of infrastructure was taking a toll on their productivity and comfort of working from home. That is when we came up with Homescape, a complete solution for office workstation set up for employees working from home.
SMBS: Tell us more about Homescape.
MK: The ideation of Homescape happened when we saw people facing issues while setting up offices at home. This was affecting their productivity enormously. Since work from home is going to become the norm in the coming days, we decided to provide furniture to these people. There are two aspects to our business model. The B2B aspect and the B2C aspect.
In the B2C model, we directly interact with the end consumers and based on their requirements, we supply furniture to them. In the B2B model, we have tied up with corporates and enterprises, and we provide them with workstation infrastructure on a subscription basis. The costs are divided according to the requirements and they include economy, standard, premium, and enterprise, ranging between Rs 12,999 and Rs 29,999.
SMBS: Who manufactures the furniture? What all is included in the subscription packages?
MK: We have adopted a Make-in-India approach for this. We have tied up with five vendors across Bengaluru and central India. The ideation, design, and concept are all done by us. These vendors manufacture the products according to our requirements.
In the economy model, we provide a complete workstation including tables and chairs. As the subscription model goes up, so does the facilities. For instance, in the enterprise model, we are providing workstation, lighting, colour customisation, Google-home enabled and internet connectivity as well.
In the B2C model, there is a one-time cost along with transportation charges that clients have to pay, whereas in the B2B model, companies have to pay rentals on a quarterly, six-monthly, or yearly basis.
SMBS: What are your future plans?
MK: With India’s largest companies announcing 50 percent of their workforce will work from home, there is no doubt that our business will increase in the post COVID-19 era.
According to a study by MIT, around 34 percent more people are going to work remotely at homes. Working from home has also proven to be more productive than working from an office.
Homescape is the fastest solution that we came up with in about one-and-a-half weeks. We believe that we need to expand it to other cities as well.
In addition, we are working on a lot of product innovations. For example, we have come up with an acoustic panel that will enable one to zoom out all the voices in the house while you are in an office meeting.
We are also in talks for 2,000 signups with a large enterprise.
Edited by Javed Gaihlot