Betting big on workspaces

Flex space providers promise premium and uniform services to companies across multiple locations as business models evolve post-pandemic

October 28, 2022 04:05 pm | Updated 04:05 pm IST

The pandemic disrupted the dynamics of the workplace at a global level. Most places have now adapted to the new norm and are slowly shifting to flex spaces. As per latest reports, the office realty market has witnessed a robust growth trajectory as the gross leasing volume (GLV) across India’s key cities have reached 55 million sq.ft. as of September end and is expected to touch nearly 68 million sq.ft. With this high demand trajectory, flex spaces have accounted for 20% market share of the total office leasing reaching 12 million sq.ft. by the end of 2022.

Companies are now actively changing their workspace strategy to accommodate shifting workforce preferences. Businesses of all sizes are looking for real estate that is adaptable to their needs while minimising investment risks and are betting big on agile workspaces. The demand for flex spaces has skyrocketed as business models evolved with the adoption of hybrid work modules, thus making flex work providers their one-stop solution.

Quick service real estate (QSRE) is the new era of the world where facilities are at the tip of your fingers. Earlier, for companies to even think of setting up an entire new workspace on a just-in-time basis was an unimaginable task. Keeping in mind the various aspects, organisations would require a minimum of six to 12 months to set up an all-encompassing workspace, at a new location. Teething issues such as dealing with multiple stakeholders — space owner, design and build firms, statutory authorities, and FM agencies — made life too complex for fast-growing organisations.

This is where these new-age, agile, flex workspaces come into the picture to solve the need for quick and hassle-free offices that provide Grade A services. In the large spectrum of flex spaces, coworking could be fitted in easily thereby making it possible for even one person to work for just a day. Coworking is a flexible workspace that is not limited to freelancers and startups. It only reduces occupancy costs and fosters collaboration.

Flex space providers offer distributed workspaces that are guaranteed to provide premium and uniform services to companies across multiple locations. These just-in-time space providers have enabled businesses to efficiently accommodate not just the new world requirements but also provide the employees with appropriate workspace requirements, as a matter of fact, quickly. To better understand, let’s dive deep into the concept of QSREs.

Complete package

As we see the world changing and business models evolving into a fast-paced ecosystem, it is safe to say that flex spaces are the future of the real estate industry. With seamless services, along with the ability to provide office space, meeting rooms etc., on demand, coworking spaces are providing their occupiers with the complete package. Even if a company is based out of Mumbai or Delhi, it can operate out of Indore or Jaipur with just a click of a button. Flex space providers have made the process of being able to book a Grade A workspace in a matter of few minutes, the new advanced reality.

This has led companies to rely on flex spaces as it caters to their needs of reduced capital expenditures, testing new models of working in a changing environment, and entering new markets as talent migrates.

With companies across all industries and departments continuing to grow, providing diverse workspace across geographies to cater to the distributed workforce is the need of the hour. A distributed workforce is dispersed over a wide area enabling seamless remote work. Flex space arrangements are helping these corporates to be able to support an increasingly mobile workforce and bolster organisational agility with quick solutions.

Company convenience

The solutions and services offered by coworking spaces — where workers from different backgrounds come together to share expertise and explore new ideas thereby increasing the chances of like-minded people engaging in business development — will enhance the convenience of accessibility, and the ability to work from near home for employees and to procure talents across regions. In addition, flexible workplaces are becoming the norm as it allows companies to reduce commute time for their employees and offer them great freedom and convenience, thus leading to higher retention rates.

Consistency of service

Companies across industries are staunch believers of consistency along with the consistency of premium quality outputs. This concept was brought into reality by Quick Service Restaurants like McDonald’s, Subway, Starbucks and Burger King among others.

By offering pre-made food that requires only last-minute preparation, QSRs have tapped on speed, price and convenience. Following their footsteps, the flex space industry has brought that aura into the world of real estate giving companies consistent premium quality of services. With these standardised offerings across all centres and diverse geographies, the shared workspace industry has established itself as the most conducive model for most organisations.

Large network

The flex space industry offers a multitude of benefits, one of them being the vast network of workspaces. The industry is flourishing, and most leading flex players are expanding their footprints all over the country. Shared workspaces are redefining the modern workspace with their presence across metros and a host of tier II cities. With this, companies can ensure their employees can focus on driving their business forward by working from any of the flex space centres across major micro markets. Allowing employees the choice and accessibility of a five-minute driving radius to their closest centre, therefore, leveraging work near home.

In tier II cities, flex spaces are likely to grow more than two-fold to 5.5 million sq.ft. by the end of 2022 as per the Colliers-Awfis joint report.

With QSRE models paving the way forward, organisations have found an ally in which the industry fits their requirements. It has enabled employees and enterprises to be part of a collaborative, innovative, and responsive space incorporating the occupier’s ever-changing preferences. With India’s workforce on the rise, flex workspaces in the coming years are expected to have even higher growth prospects with increased demand and new trends.

The writer is Deputy CEO, Awfis.

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