Bengaluru is embracing co-working spaces, and how

June 02, 2019 12:27 am | Updated 12:27 am IST - Bengaluru

A co-working space set up at The Leela Palace in Bengaluru.

A co-working space set up at The Leela Palace in Bengaluru.

With its glass facade, the building blends in with the other shops and restaurants on Church Street. However, when you step inside, you are immediately aware of how different it is from the stores lining the street.

An escalator will take you to workspaces on the first floor. The seating arrangements are varied: a gallery format, couches to sit and work on, and private offices. A few months ago, the one-time shopping plaza was restructured to function as a shared workspace that can accommodate more than 700 people.

In 2018, Bengaluru led the metros with the highest absorption of shared spaces. Industry watchers predict greater growth this year. According to Anarock Property Consultants, Bengaluru, the National Capital Region (NCR) and Mumbai are among the cities that lead the market, followed by Hyderabad and Chennai. This growth is not entirely driven by exclusively designed co-working spaces that are spread over millions of square feet. Unconventional spaces such as movie halls, malls, hotels, warehouses and even educational institutions are finding favour as co-working spaces, and are contributing to this growth.

There are many such examples. For instance, Awfis’s co-working space on the campus of Dayanand Sagar Institute hosts 18 companies. Last year, IndiQube opened a 500-seater co-working space at the Marriot Courtyard. The space provider already has a 2,000-seater at The Leela Palace. The Hive at VR Bengaluru is another example of having an office inside a mall, where companies don’t have to invest much on entertainment and food.

Hotel-based co-working spaces are preferred by business travellers, as it saves them time on commute. And for international visitors, the knowledge that these seats are in well-secured spaces is reassuring.

A growing market

According to property consultants, office rents are increasing in India. Affordable rent, central location and access to a host of amenities are among the factors that promote the co-working market. “Rent and layout efficiency are the two major cost factors for a company,” says Pranay Gupta, co-founder of 91 Springboard. “Co-working companies lease spaces of 50,000 sq. ft. or more and offer companies the flexibility to negotiate on rent. The operational efficiency is greater when working from a co-working space and cheaper for a client by more than 30%,” he adds.

According to Anarock Property Consultants, the contribution of co-working space to the total working space is likely to witness an increase of 30-40%. Anarock’s research also shows that more than 200 players are operating the current stock of more than 420 such workspaces (both branded and non-branded) across the country. This number is likely to increase two- to three-fold over the next two years.

There is room for all

The benefits of flexibility and cost are the obvious factors contributing to the charm of co-working spaces for startups, freelancers and subject matter experts.

But there is also a growing trend of corporates pre-booking slots in co-working spaces, and they are primarily drawn by the benefit of saved time. With employees not having to waste time commuting long distances to work, these corporates are justified in demanding greater productivity from them.

“A large IT firm, looking to set up five offices across Bengaluru, has asked us to provide a 50-seater space for their employees. One important consideration for clients is that the office must be centrally located so that employees don’t lose much time on the road,” says Rishi Das, co-founder and chairman, IndiQube, which has 30 office spaces in the city.

More than 50% of We Work’s member base are large enterprises. Awfis currently serves over 1,300 companies across 10 cities, and 40% of its business comes from small and medium enterprises, another 40% from corporates, followed by startups and freelancers (20%).

Mr. Das draws attention to another trend: managed space. “Managed space is about a company seeking a dedicated space created for them or designing and managing a space,” he says.

As a startup grows, its space requirements increase, and when it has struck a long-term partnership with a co-working space provider, meeting the new requirements is easier. Over the past three years, Eximius Design, an engineering services company, had done quite a bit of shifting around. “When we started out in Bengaluru at a co-working space, we were a team of seven. With expansion, we would move office and as part of an arrangement, the co-working space provider would find a space that would meet the new requirements,” says Bala Gorthi, vice-president, Eximius Design.

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