The Post Pandemic Rise of Flexible Workspaces
The good news for flexible workspace operators in the region is that demand for flexible space is already increasing.
The year has finally come to an end and so shall the trauma it enveloped; we hope. If you introspect 2020, there is a clearly drawn line between life before and after 24 March, the day when a nationwide lockdown was enforced in India. This was the date that marked a seismic shift in our lives, where homes and offices have merged.
Flexible spaces have been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic, and more specifically, the coworking operators. The road to normalcy for flexible workspaces in the country relies on multiple factors ranging from economic recovery to pace of vaccine distribution and moderation of active COVID-19 cases. Any hiccups could stretch that road a little longer, where social distancing and public health would take precedence.
A hybrid working model that caters to the unique needs of employees will gather importance in the future, especially since employees, will now perceive work from home or working closer to home as more than just a convenience. Businesses will also have a greater need for flexible workspaces to accommodate their portfolios primarily owing to cost rationalization, hassle free management and a flexibility to increase or decrease office space, as and when necessary.
This acceleration in flexible workspaces had been on a tear much before the pandemic froze workers out of offices. But at the same time, this phase could be what restarts the sector's roaring engine. Statistics from various surveys have reported that the requirement for an agile portfolio with an array of flexible options has only increased due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The essence of co-working spaces earlier was to experience the vibe of a community through events, and networking sessions. But now, the focus is more on safety, flexibility, and employee wellness. Several companies executed innovative work plans with revised working schedules and by rolling rostered working days. The 'flexibility' quotient for the masses has instilled a belief in this sector where co-working spaces are considered to complement their revival and growth post-pandemic. Moreover, as most of these companies are holding onto their purse strings and reconsidering their Capex to save costs, flexible spaces will play an important role in rationalizing their investments and maintaining financial agility.
But what about the consumers working from the safety of their homes? The WFH model will transition to a world where remote working is a part of the norm. The mantra will gradually change from 'work from home' to 'work from anywhere'. The days of having a single large corporate office will be long gone and companies would increasingly choose a network of distributed, satellite & remote offices where work migrates to the place of employees rather than the vice versa.
Another fact that has come to light, this pandemic, is that the office continues to be an important space for training, mentorship, and collaboration despite the hassle of traveling. A 2020 McKinsey report highlighted that teams that work in the same shared workspace find it easier to build trust. The report also depicted the challenges faced by employees practicing WFH, including a lack of communication and coordination which emphasized the fact that people prefer communicating complex information face-to-face rather than digitally. Studies have shown that more than 90 percent of people wish to return to the office space at least one day a week. Statistics like these highlight the value people associate with physical workspaces. And flexible workspaces could offer them the answer.
The good news for flexible workspace operators in the region is that demand for flexible space is already increasing. A multi-faceted, flexible solution to the safe return to the office also predicts that demand for non-core city locations could increase as occupiers will look for alternative locations in commuter towns or city suburbs.
Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house