Coworking in India has been all the rage since 2005, and in the pandemic, these places have gone through an acid test. However, looking back just a few years will make you realize how it was perfectly okay to have a physical presence and not a digital footprint for businesses. Today, when the same idea is transversed to the workplace setting, it opens numerous opportunities for businesses.
Tracing the Roots
Especially in an Indian office setting, where the traditional use of office spaces has always been the gold standard in the industry, the idea of coworking spaces itself was a revelation. For the world, coworking spaces as a concept came into the light during 1995 in San Francisco when unproductivity became a major issue to a programmer, Brad Neuberg; and he thought of taking things into his own hands. However, for India, things began to shake for the ‘coworking’ concept in 2008, with the Great Recession for the Indian state. With the economy down on its knees and hugely affecting IT jobs across the nation, the fear of unemployment was real. IT professionals were looking for different ways to break through, which led them to look at the market differently and develop promising ideas for providing digital solutions.
That said, for young startups then, it wasn’t feasible to invest in real estate for office space. Instead, they would prefer to operate from their homes or even from a nearby café. But gradually, as startups began thriving in the market and accepted by the netizens, they slowly realized the importance of having an office space. This was also when coworking spaces were newly springing up in India, which blended the distinct areas of work and leisure into each other.
A Brief Recap of 2020
When the pandemic hit us unprecedentedly last year, it completely changed the perception towards work and office for the coming years. In India, employees were told to maintain social distancing and work from home to limit the possibilities of contamination. It was a massive blow in the gut for shared, open coworking spaces, since it deeply affected their operations across the nation. As per reports, 1.3 billion professionals worked from their homes in 2020, as the office space leasing by coworking spaces fell by 58%. More importantly, coworking spaces have to remodel their entire design to fit the social distancing protocols by the government as soon as it reopens.
A Glimpse into the Future
While the pandemic has brought some irreversible changes in the way people interpret work, it has prepared the Indian corporate market to adapt ‘Work from home’ actively into its everyday operations. But with employees working from the safety of their homes for over a year now, it has seriously affected their work-life balance and influenced their productivity levels, even more if they’re beginners.
As it is said, ‘necessity is the mother of invention’, it is precisely where the demand for a flexible work setting arises. For employees, the new normal brings an opportunity to work on a hybrid system that comprises of working from home for at least three days a week and the rest working from an office. Since business owners have to follow the social distancing protocols more than ever with the reopening of their offices earlier this year, they may have to look out for shared space options in the area, to accommodate the entire staff. Coworking spaces may even leverage the same demand as they can provide a vast seating area in line with the distancing protocols at convenient tariffs. For coworking startups specifically, this can pivot their businesses enduring ‘zero sales period’ last year.
Currently, as many business verticals and functions require employees to be present in a work setting instead of their homes, coworking spaces are coming back in resurgence. Even business owners who had to take the burden of long-term leases of their office spaces are now responding to the flexible work setting perception of the masses. For coworking spaces that are inherently ready to adapt and evolve to the changes, they are finding themselves in an advantageous point to redefine the future of work and office. As per the JLL reports on the current scenario, the market for such flexible spaces stands at 3%, which is expected to rise to 4.2% by 2023.
With more than 300 coworking space operators across the nation, the wave of flexible workspaces looks promising and bright. As more and more businesses prefer renting coworking spaces, real estate may also find this as a massive opportunity to invest in this growing industry. For smaller operators pushing for capital, they might be acquired by larger operators with numerous financial channels. However, with the market slowly opening up for flexible workspaces, the competition to provide personalized work experience will be high among different operators. If you’re looking for recommendations on such coworking spaces that can provide customized office space solutions, we’d recommend you the following:
They provide exceptional business assistance and accelerator services for startups to network and grow. Started in 2017, their fully furnished workspaces in Ahmedabad are a great ready-to-move-in option.
Their beautiful and functional coworking spaces are perfect for businesses, freelancers, and students to connect and learn from each other. They’re located across Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore, Hyderabad and therefore have a vibrant community.
One of the newest tech-enabled coworking spaces in Kolkata, they’re known for their practical, flexible workspace solutions as well as their innovative design. Built on the principles of collaboration and creativity, they are located at Sector-V in Salt Lake, also known as the heart of the IT hub of the city.