Co-working space providers redraw strategies for post-Covid world

Mumbai | Updated on May 28, 2020

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Flexible or co-working workspace providers are re-drawing their strategy after the coronavirus pandemic cut short growth.

The health crisis has generated a greater interest in taking dedicated and secure private offices, signalling a big shift in the flexible office space industry.

“Co-working space providers would now have to rethink their strategy, packages, interior and design areas, and make the segment more attractive for consumers,” said Manas Mehrotra, Chairman, 315Work Avenue, a Bangalore-based co-working company with around 15,000 seats.

An opportunity

Concerns around Covid-19 has led to reduced footfalls in co-workspaces, which have been growing at a rapid pace for the last few years.

This blip, according to industry players, could be temporary as businesses seize the opportunity to re-draw their working arrangements to provide more flexibility to employees than ever before, especially considering the benefits of productivity and engagement.

“This will push up the demand for co working spaces. Most corporates would avoid capital expenditures and look to co-working facilities to expand their business as it is flexible and short-term, and is more appealing than having to commit long-term,” Mehrotra adds.

Flexible workspace providers believe that the crisis is an opportunity for them as corporates revisit their requirements keeping personal health and hygiene as the topmost priority for their assets and employees.

“Companies would not want to invest in fixed assets like real estate and this may result in operating from spaces like ours which will save overhead costs. It will be an important measure in the coming times to rationalise cost, particularly in times of turbulence,” said Karan Virwani, CEO, WeWork India.

“We are working towards re-evaluating our density plans and strengthening social distancing norms as we prepare to open our spaces,” Virwani said.

Akshita Gupta, Co-Founder, and CMO of ABL Workspaces, says that following strict protocols along with finding the right solutions to mitigate risks are imperative for the co-working industry. “Co-working spaces with instituted safety and preventive care ensuring hygienic work environment will be in demand once companies begin to re-start operations. While businesses will be focussing on maintaining cashflows, they will reconsider moving out of an expensive owned place to an affordable shared space, where they do not have to worry about maintenance,” Akshita said.

Usual operations affected

While the workforce transitioned to the new normal of work from home (WFH), workspace providers, including coworking players, too had to re-evaluate business models, re-align operational strategies, and embrace the shift in occupier behaviour to address the new needs.

“The pandemic has greatly affected the usual operations of flexible workspaces but Awfis is thinking ahead to not just minimise the adverse impact but also to find innovative solutions to come out of these unprecedented times stronger than ever. We are now evolving from being just a workspace provider to becoming a fully integrated workspace solution platform for our clients, offering products to the entire spectrum of work requirements including the current work from home,” says Amit Ramani, CEO & Founder, Awfis.

As co-working companies navigate the great unknown, not all remote workers have access to the amenities they need to productively work from home, making co-working spaces appealing during crisis.

“Co-working companies will score high on the social quotient and it’s only a matter of time before co-working spaces churn out in a new form. People need options and access to a collaborative environment is needed for success in life and work. The Covid-19 is certainly not an end to the co-working culture as people would discover that the benefits of social gatherings in terms of emotional and intellectual fulfilment would be a crucial necessity for the overall health of a society,” adds Mehrotra at 315Work Avenue.

Published on May 28, 2020

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