During the pandemic, people started seeking out more flexible and nontraditional hours as well as hybrid solutions to combine in-office labor and work-from-home options. Companies transitioning to a new operational mode in the workplace argue that flexibility, adaptability, and the ability to pivot will make businesses more resilient to unprecedented change in the future.
Thus, many have turned to shared workspaces to help generate greater returns by boosting employee morale, foregrounding flexibility, and boosting productivity in the long run.
To meet new demand, India-based coworking operator Awfis plans to add 60,000 seats in its shared office centers by the end of the year. Awfis’ CEO says it has 100 office centers across 14 cities in India right now; by December of 2022, the operator will double its amount of square footage, reaching 8 million square feet of office space in 18 total cities.
The majority of those spaces are going to corporations, with about 40% being created for small-to-medium businesses, and 10% for startups and freelance workers. Before the pandemic, Awfis says startups and small-to-medium enterprises made up a much larger portion of the company’s clients, with only 30% of its business going to corporations.
The trend of startups becoming a smaller player in the field of coworking operators isn’t limited to Awfis. Several different reports show India’s coworking space went to 1.5 million small-to-medium enterprises, 10.3 million enterprise customer seats, 1.5 million freelance workers, and 0.1 million startups.
The focus on shared coworking centers seems to be mainly focused in eight cities in India: Ahmedabad, Bengaluru, Delhi-NCR, Kolkata, Hyderabad, Mumbai, and Pune. These cities saw an increase of 4.91 million square feet in 2021, up from 4.05 million the year before.
Up until now, the main coworking operators in India include WeWork, Smartworks, the Executive Centre, Simpliwork Offices, 91Springboard, and The Office Pass. Now, Awfis is taking steps to ensure it’s included on any list of India’s major players.
Awfis’ predictions for the future of coworking
Awfis has several predictions for the future of the workplace, which are guiding its investments in flexible offices. Those tips may be something other companies will key into as well as coworking spaces become progressively more popular.
The main takeaway is that Awfis wants to focus more on sustainable green projects. This means thinking more about how to convert already-existing buildings that are under-utilized or otherwise up for grabs. That way, there won’t need to be as large an emphasis on the construction of new buildings, which saves time and is a much more affordable investment. Beyond that, doing so is a much better option for the environment.
Awfis also figures that businesses will eventually have to build on the option that some employees will work from home. The company estimates that as much as a quarter of the workforce will continue working from home even as we emerge from the pandemic, though it gives a 5-25% range for that estimate.
The company also recommends that companies focus more on touch-free technology in the workplace, which offers a much safer solution to minimizing the spread of germs in a post-pandemic society. Awfis plans to integrate more touch-free technology into its investments in the future.
Moreover, Awfis just finished building its 100th center in Bangalore. This particular bit of real estate at the Lido Mall is rated as a Grade-A property and was highly sought after. The 70,000 square foot building has 15,000 available seats that will be set up in a flexible workspace environment. The company says it is currently looking for 10 more assets to factor into its expansion plans.