By Manas Mehrotra,
The Covid-19 pandemic has shaken the world in multiple ways and changed the way we work. As the virus influences the economy and real estate, the question arises what would be its impact on commercial rental and coworking spaces? The current disruption due to Covid-19 is considered temporary as the coworking industry expects a recovery as the economy emerges from lockdown. There is a need for agility in the way we operate in the aftermath of the pandemic and in the long term “survival of the fittest” will likely be the norm. Here are many changes the coworking industry will see in the post-covid scenario.
Health will be a priority
Anticipating the resilience of businesses, coworking spaces should emerge stronger in the post-Covid world. The flexibility and well-designed strategies to promote a preventive, safe and healthy coworking environment attract many companies. With the expectation and optimism that the second wave will level off in a few months, companies are preparing employees for futuristic collaborative workspaces. The post-Covid era will renew the focus of coworking spaces on social distancing and safe interactions. Companies are looking for spaces that can offer a higher level of health, hygiene and safety to their employees.
Offices will not lose their importance
While working from home can coexist, the office space will not lose its importance as the benefits of working in a physical office space, both in terms of cohesion and productivity, are long lasting. As occupying companies want to reduce costs, even the most conventional users now see the value of coworking. These spaces, with their natural flexibility and inherent desire to add value, are best positioned to adapt and redefine the future of the workspace.
Demand from large companies
Large companies are exploring renting office space in flexible workspaces to avoid long-term capital expenditure. The hub-and-spoke model will come into effect in which a large head office will have a “central office” and a set of smaller or “satellite offices” spread over different parts of the city. Compared to traditional office spaces, more companies can adopt a hybrid working model. In the near future, we anticipate a pick-up in demand for conveniently located, high-quality and efficient flexible workspaces, which will allow them to occupy a larger portion of the total commercial office portfolio in India.
De-densification will be an important trend
Today, operators of organized coworking spaces offer a complete business ecosystem and are ready to recalibrate their trajectories. The formulation of new techniques, the de-densification of the existing spatial inventory and the offer of a more conducive and adaptive ecosystem to cope with these disruptive elements signal this new beginning. Dedensification is seen as an important imperative for large companies.
Increased focus on technology adoption
The world is on the cusp of technological disruption, with artificial intelligence and machine learning being the most sought-after aspects of technology. Large companies today envision state-of-the-art, collaborative and productive coworking spaces to avoid the hassle of managing an office space. Using the Internet of Things for asset management, spatial analysis, mobile applications and visitor management systems, virtual reality for future office spaces are just a few technological interventions adopted by coworking players. These interventions will improve monitoring and reporting capability and provide an excellent, world-class wireless experience for its members.
Consolidation on the cards
An increasing trend among coworking brands would be consolidation. As the coworking industry becomes more organized, smaller, unorganized players may merge with larger players in an exercise of synergy and consolidation. As large global investors and leading real estate players have expressed interest in the coworking industry, mergers and equity investments may be considered in the near future. Small players may be absorbed by mergers or will alternatively have to close their activities.
In conclusion, we can say that co-working will undergo changes to align with the “new normal”. There will be more fluidity and customization to the model which will allow coworking to position itself as the most viable option in the near future. The pandemic has undoubtedly changed the way occupants and experienced operators revisit space management today. However, it is safe to say that the flexibility associated with the increase in modern technology will surely lead the industry to a strong recovery in the months to come. The future of coworking spaces promises to be exciting, with immense potential. The emphasis remains on well-being measures, such as the application of regular hygiene and safety protocols for occupants. It is imperative to reiterate these measures daily so that occupants see, feel and experience a comprehensive safety protocol in place.
(The author is the Founder, 315Work Avenue. Opinions expressed are personal and do not reflect the official position or policy of Financial Express Online.)