The present disruption due to Covid-19 is seen as temporary as the coworking industry is expecting a revival as the economy emerges out of lockdown.
By Manas Mehrotra,
The Covid-19 pandemic has upended the world in a multitude of ways and changed the way we work. As the virus is influencing the economy and real estate, the question arises what would be its impact on commercial leasing and coworking spaces? The present disruption due to Covid-19 is seen as temporary as the coworking industry is expecting a revival as the economy emerges out of lockdown. There is a need for agility in the way we operate in the wake of the pandemic and over the long-term, ‘survival of the fittest’ is likely to be the norm. Here are many changes which coworking industry will see in the post-covid scenario.
Health will be priority
Anticipating businesses being resilient, coworking spaces are expected to emerge stronger in the post- Covid world. The flexibility and well-crafted strategies to promote a preventive and safe and healthy coworking environment are attracting many businesses. With the expectation and optimism that the second wave would plateau in a couple of months, companies are preparing employees for futuristic co-workspaces. The post Covid era will renew the focus of coworking spaces on social distancing and safe interactions. Businesses are looking for spaces that can offer a higher level of health, hygiene and safety for their people.
Office space will not lose its importance
While work from home may co-exist, office?space?will not lose its importance as the benefits of working in a physical office space, both in terms of cohesion as well as productivity are long lasting. Given that corporate occupiers want to reduce costs, even the most conventional occupiers are now seeing merit in coworking. These spaces, with their natural flexibility and inherent readiness to add value are best positioned to adapt and redefine the future of workspace.
Demand from large companies
Large corporate are exploring leasing desks in flexible workspaces to avoid long-term capital expenditure. The hub-and-spoke model will come into effect wherein a large corporate office will have a ‘central office’ and a set of smaller or “satellite offices’’ spread across different parts of the city. Compared to traditional office spaces, more companies may adopt a hybrid working model. In the near future, we expect a pick-up in demand for well-located, high-quality and efficient flexible workspaces, resulting in them occupying a greater portion of the total commercial office portfolio in India.
De-densification will be an important trend
Today, organized co-working space operators provide a complete business ecosystem and are all set to recalibrate their trajectories. Formulation of new techniques, de-densification of existing space inventory, and offering a more conducive and adaptive ecosystem to cope with these disruptive elements signals this new beginning. De-densification is seen as an important imperative for large enterprises.
Enhanced focus on technology adoption
The world is at a cusp of tech disruption with artificial intelligence and machine learning being the most sought after aspects of technology. Large enterprises today look at coworking spaces that are technologically advanced, collaborative and productive to avoid the hassle of running an office space. Using Internet-of-Things for asset management, spatial analytics, mobile apps and visitor management systems, virtual reality for future office spaces are just a few technological interventions that co-working players have adopted. These interventions will enhance monitoring and reporting capability and offer an excellent world-class wireless experience to its members.
Consolidation on the cards
An ascending trend among co-working brands would be consolidation. As the co-working sector gets more organized, smaller, unorganized players may merge with larger players as part of a synergistic and consolidating exercise. As large global investors and prominent real estate players have been indicating their interest in the co-working sector, mergers and stake purchases can be foreseen in the near future. Smaller players may be absorbed in mergers or will alternatively have to close down operations.
In conclusion, it can be said that co-working will undergo modifications to align itself with the ‘new normal’. There will be more fluidity and customization to the model that will allow co-working to position itself as the most viable option in the near future. The pandemic has undoubtedly altered the way occupiers and experienced operators alike are revisiting space management today. However, it’s safe to say that flexibility coupled with the augmentation of modern technology will surely lead the sector to strong revival in the months ahead. The future of coworking spaces does look exciting, with immense potential. An extended focus on wellness measures, such as enforcing regular hygiene and safety protocols for occupiers remains. It is imperative to reiterate these measures daily so that occupiers see, feel, and experience an all-round safety-protocol in place.
(The author is Founder, 315Work Avenue. Views expressed are personal and do not reflect the official position or policy of the Financial Express Online.)