With a great idea, comes a great responsibility, hassles, bills, salaries, PPTs and … office space? If a list of top-10 problems faced by prospective Indian entrepreneurs is ever made, finding an ideal office space, and the costs associated with it, will undoubtedly feature near the top. Real estate prices have always been on a higher side in our country, and even with the recent dip, renting or buying commercial space still costs a bomb. As a result, start-ups working on the threadbare model looking to cut corners cannot really afford to have a dedicated space which has a recurring cost of its own.
The silver lining, however, has appeared in the form of the emergence of a ‘common business space’ culture, which can also be termed as co-working spaces or a shared business services set-up. Essentially, it can be understood just as a hotel where, instead of rooms, there are offices. The concept has become the latest trend in the global start-up environment, and almost 80% such spaces in the UK—which is the hub of co-working culture—are planning to expand.
It is still an exception rather than a convention in India, and experts are of the opinion that it is the most ideal work culture concept that is suited specifically to the Indian social, cultural and economic traits.
First, the increasing population in India has already created an enormous pressure on the limited amount of real estate resources available. The infrastructural development that needs to be followed for every dedicated office space is also huge, which does not optimise the scarce resources at hand.
Second, many international travellers have frequently marvelled at the unparalleled quality of India’s hospitality. Adhering to the adage of ‘Atithi Devo Bhava’ (the guest is akin to God), Indians have been engrained since their childhood to go out of their way in order to make the guest feel happy and content. This is why India’s hospitality sector has grown exponentially, and implementing the same principle on the shared business centre concept guarantees its phenomenal growth as well. Businessmen all around the world are now travelling to India, buoyed by the impeccable, extremely well-equipped infrastructure and professional service quality of its shared and serviced business spaces.
Third, the costs associated with such common business spaces in India is also less as compared to many other countries. Value-for-worth services are available in India for a much lesser price and without any apprehensions regarding the quality of product or service. This further distinguishes Indian commercial hospitality from the West, which is more aloof, standardised and uses a cookie-cutter approach. Therefore, the individual attention to needs and an option for customisation that is available in top Indian serviced business set-ups endears it further to global clients.
It is, however, incorrect to say that every space in India provides a similar kind of working environment.
The most important determinant of the service quality depends on the management running the space. While some may focus on just implementing the best infrastructural equipment and automation, others might give more leverage to the warmth of human interaction and being flexible enough to adapt to any of the client’s requirements or concerns.
In fact, businesses across the world are slowly moving towards the co-working culture as they have identified the amount of savings they end up making, which has a highly favourable effect on the Return on Investment (RoI). The only aspect that bothers entrepreneurs is whether a common business centre can be transformative enough to reflect the unique identity of the organisation and be efficient enough to serve all its clients in a satisfactory manner simultaneously? Well, if Indian business centres are to be considered, the job has been done exceedingly well till now.
The author, Nakul Mathur is MD, Avanta India. Views are personal