Co-working began as a community of freelancers, but has now developed into a successful real-estate business for landlords and operators and has become a core part of the occupiers’ strategy. Throughout India, co-working spaces are gaining momentum at a rapid pace and in the near future, the industry is projected to double each year.
10% of office spaces are currently occupied by co-working and are expected to rise to around 25% in the coming years. According to a report “The Art of Co-Working” by CBRE real estate consultancy firm, with the concept of shared office space fast catching up in India, leasing is expected to touch 10 mn. sq. ft. by 2020. While demand more than tripled in 2016 to touch 0.7 mn. sq. ft. as compared to 2014, this year (2017), leasing is expected to cross 1.5 mn. sq. ft.
The growing entrepreneurial spirit, which flows into Tier-II cities as well, is accelerating this tremendous development. Tier-II markets are expected to grow by 2020 to 8.5 mn of seats. Therefore, given the strong demand and momentum, it has been able to gain, it wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that the best is yet to come for a segment that is still in the emerging stages of development.
Co-working, highly collaborative and versatile by nature, has over the years encountered many new trends and innovative activities. Fierce competition and ever-increasing demand have resulted in several leading players such as The Hive, WeWork, CoWrks, and so on putting on their brainstorming hats to ensure continued market dominance and maintain value-added benefits for clients.
How Does the Future Look?
- Coworkers handhold developers in managing activities: The business relationship between a developer and a provider of co-working space is now no longer confined to merely leasing the commercial space. Co-working players curate unique tenant building experiences and engagements by providing state-of-the-art amenities such as gyms, cafés, crèches, and managing the entire building ecosystem by bringing alliances, events and community focus to the tenants.
- Deeper integration of the technologies: Virtual assistants, AI-powered ambience and temperature control, as well as collaborations based on a touchscreen, enhance the user experience. The laptop and smartphone will become redundant as voice-activated systems, wearable technology including wearable glasses, embedded chips, and Internet of Things (IoT)-connected wrist devices will take centre stage and work professionals with work desks will become a passé.
- Rise of ‘work close to home’ programmes: Co-working spaces, due to multiple locations, inter-city as well as intra-city, are the ways to reduce traffic time and provide both personal and business benefits. Organisations have been considering the idea of allowing employees to “work from home” to provide more employee-friendly policies.
- Adoption of versatile and mobile solutions: Millennials and Gen Z are looking for versatility, mobility, teamwork and opportunities to help them work in real-time and untethered ways. Shared workspaces allow flexibility by providing solutions such as roaming, national passes, and bulk meeting room hours to work out from any place at any time, without any reservation constraints and hassles.
- Platform for collaboration: Collaboration often happens between the co-working space provider and the consumers who sit inside by retailing and sampling products and services. The consumers get real-time input from the larger community and a chance to test the market with different demographics.
The transformation of the workplace has started in earnest and will see some major transformations in the next 5-7 years as the lifestyles of people evolve, technology advances take place at a faster pace, office commute times decrease, and health and well-being become the centre of attention.
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