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Coworking boom in non-metros to help small businesses, startups with low cost, scalable growth

A growing number of coworking spaces in Tier-II cities have boosted the startup ecosystem in India as they have proven to be a perfect solution for small business owners.

  • By Ankit Gupta

Before a decade ago, coworking spaces were virtually non-existent. The idea of a shared open space being occupied by professionals was a concept that was foreign to many. With the ecosystem evolving, along with the needs of people, today, coworking spaces are becoming essential for emerging entrepreneurs and startups. While metropolitan cities are witnessing exponential growth in coworking real estate, the Tier-II and III cities are embarking on this journey too. The availability of talent, local investor confidence and infrastructure support have in turn supported emerging entrepreneurs and startup communities, mushrooming in these cities. Coworking companies are set to boom in Tier-II sectors, with cities like Ahmedabad, Indore, Jaipur, Pune already gaining popularity. This has also created a platform for remote employment and collaborative working culture in Tier-II and III cities.

According to a report by NASSCOM, India’s startup ecosystem has the potential to create up to 12.5 lakh direct jobs by 2025, from 3.9-4.3 lakh direct jobs in 2019. India’s talent base is increasing beyond large cities as fresh graduates are choosing to stay back in non-metros. Relocation of talent to metro cities in search of opportunities and career growth has been a trend of the past decade. Today the growing coworking culture and startup community has slowed down the process of talent drain to metros and has created a smart talent pool in smaller cities.

A growing number of coworking spaces in Tier-II cities have boosted the startup ecosystem in India as they have proven to be a perfect solution for small business owners. The freelancers and budding entrepreneurs desire cost-efficient solutions to gain industry exposure and coworking spaces provide exactly that. Such startups need flexibility, industry exposure, and minimal expenditure on operational costs. Coworking in Tier-II and III cities help to keep operational costs low while ensuring that the options of scalability remain open.

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Coworking spaces provide an opportunity to build a network and find technology partners. Shared office space is not just about an open floor anymore, it is about people who come to work from various backgrounds. Emerging entrepreneurs are provided with a platform which allows them to connect with the right mix of people and explore new opportunities to grow their business.

The talent pool is noticeably growing in smaller cities. The coworking centres in non-metro cities have witnessed exponential growth as well. According to the latest report- Reshaping Indian Workplaces By JLL and FICCI, the coworking market in Tier II and III cities is currently at a nascent stage, the city will witness an increase in operators and the spaces provided. A healthy mix of offerings viz. viable rentals, superior infrastructure, technologically advanced facilities and amenities along with proximity to work will soon become the order of the day.

With a host of benefits and no-dearth of talent, the coworking industry is sure to witness a positive trend. In addition to this, coworking spaces also provide freedom to women entrepreneurs by giving them a safe, secure and comfortable environment to work in.

Paradigm shifts in the ethos have already revolutionized the way freelancers, startups, women entrepreneurs, consultants and even artists operate their businesses. The coworking industry has witnessed monumental growth in the last 4 years evident by the fact that the industry has fuelled $3 billion in the sector, with over 13 million seats to join the coworking league by 2020. The next decade will further attract investment in this sector. If its formative years are anything to go by, the coworking industry is here for the long haul.

Ankit Gupta is the COO-Frontier Businesses, OYO India and South Asia. Views expressed are the author’s own.

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