An office for a day: on GoFloaters’ sustainable work model

Shyam Sundar Nagarajan and Srivatsan Padmanabhan of GoFloaters, are tying up with hotels and vacant workspaces to create a sustainable work model for all

June 20, 2019 04:25 pm | Updated 04:25 pm IST

Over the past few days, our news feeds have been flooded with reports on how the country is reeling under one of the harshest summers. Cut to Chennai, where lakes and water bodies are bone dry and water scarcity has now started impacting the city’s many industries. Malls are closing early, a few restaurants are serving food in disposable serveware and many schools are cutting back hours. And as IT firms are now getting their employees to work from home, the need for on-demand workplaces with adequate facilities is on the rise. With limited water supply in many homes and no access to the convenience of an office space, how does one cope?

Shyam Sundar Nagarajan of city-based ‘space brand’ GoFloaters, sees this as a learning experience for all. “Every sector of India’s economy is going to be impacted by environmental changes if we don’t take the rightful measures now. In a city like Chennai, with daily lives being hit, harmonising employees, revenues and economy are going to be a challenge. We need to encourage new-age management systems to increase productivity,” he says, adding how companies need to open up to the idea of remote and flexi working.

“They should also look at tapping into infrastructure in sustainable ways. Research has proven that employees are more productive with remote working options than losing time over commuting and traffic snarls,” adds co-founder Srivatsan Padmanabhan.

A few partner spaces in Chennai
  • Craveyard café, Adyar
  • Ox & Tomato, Alwarpet
  • Tea Trails in Nungambakkam and Anna Nagar
  • The Vintage Kitchen, Nungambakkam
  • Jugo Cafe at Thiruvanmiyur and Medavakkam
  • Ramada Plaza, Guindy

Founded in 2017, the on-demand workplace provider offers remote employees, solopreneurs, startups and freelancers flexible, multi-location access by partnering with cafés, shared office spaces, meeting and event venues. Over the last two years, the duo has tied up with over 150 such spaces across Chennai, Bengaluru, Coimbatore, and Hyderabad, and is now looking at expanding operations to tier-2 and tier-3 cities. Shyam, who also founded Insuretech startup SMBSure, explains how since they are an ‘asset light model’, they don’t own any space. “Our partners own/lease and manage the space while we provide them with strategic expertise and a technology platform to reach a wider audience.” He tells me how a rented business centre or a 2BHK office would cost them a minimum of ₹45,000 to ₹50,000 a month. Instead, they’re making use of existing infrastructure across the cities. At present, GoFloaters charges ₹25 per hour at cafés and ₹150 to ₹1,000 for a conference room, and clients aren’t obligated to order food.

It is interesting how this work model not only helps cafés and restaurants monetise their space and time, but also makes under-utilised spaces in offices available to everyone. Having worked in IT companies across the globe, Srivatsan believes the effective utilisation of existing real estate spaces is a great way to tackle lean period losses. “Every corner of an office or restaurant is a stream for revenue. Co-working leads to 100% occupancy and an increase in the collaborative yields of all the stakeholders. The average user saves up to 40% on office rental costs by using shared spaces,” he explains.

A few partner spaces in Hyderabad and Bengaluru
  • Chit Chat Chai, Madhapur
  • The Gallery Café, Banjara hills
  • Café de Loco, Gachibowli
  • Get On Board, Jubilee hills
  • Attic Lounge, Koramangala
  • The Yogisthaan Cafe, Indiranagar and Koramangala

Niche workplaces — pet-friendly offices, spaces open all night or art, theme-based work stations are their forte. “Imagine the boredom working as a single tech lead from your home versus a fun, collaborative space in your neighbourhood with your colleagues and peers,” says Srivatsan, who is all for ditching traditional work models.

The GoFloaters app is available on Android and iOS.

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