India Inc is getting inspired by Co-working centres: Sandeep Sethi, JLL

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While more and more corporates are encouraging teams to work out of co-working centres, the trend is also inspiring them to transform their own offices into flexible workplaces that infuse innovation, creativity, agility and a collaborative approach.

There is a visible change in the mindset of India Inc. and it is spreading across the entire corporate ecosystem in the country. Multinationals are moving out of their traditional office set-ups and are experimenting with teams working from co-working centres in the region. Mainstream corporates are now the prominent demand drivers for flexible working spaces in India. But the trend is driving a bigger impact of organizations rapidly shaping up their own offices to recreate creative, collaborative spaces.

According to a recent JLL Research Report, Emerging trends in India’s office sector, companies including DXC Technologies (formerly HP Enterprise Business), Tata’ Jaguar Land Rover, Google, and e-commerce players such as IndiaMART are some of the well-known names that have facilitated their teams to work out of co-working centres, thereby, reaping the benefits in terms of cost and time savings. Inspired by the trend, forward looking organizations have started offering a flexible and creative environment to their workforce within their offices.

And as the human experience continues to gather momentum in driving workplace innovation, agility and creativity, having a flexible new age working environment has now become a strategic lever to attract & retain talent, enhance collaboration, boost employee’s productivity and wellbeing.

56% corporate real estate leaders (CREs) in India believe that increasing the flexibility and agility of people and their real estate portfolios remains their topmost priority in achieving their human experience goals. And this is above the global percentage of CREs, which is at 48 percent, according to a recent 2018 Future of Work JLL survey.

In this perspective, an increasing number of co-working spaces in the country is an indication that the trend is here to stay. And companies will continue to look for ways to reward their employees with flexible and healthy workplaces.

What do stats say?

There has been a steady rise in spaces dedicated to flexible workspaces in India. The report further states that new offices that are being created in tier II and III cities in India such as Jaipur, Chandigarh, Pune, Ahmedabad and Kochi are mostly operating on a flexi workspace model.

Demographic profile of workforce available in these cities, paucity of ready Grade A spaces and nature of businesses have led to this shift in approach against the conventional offices.

Another JLL survey conducted has revealed that around 40-45 percent of the business opportunity to occupy the available flexible office space in the country lies with the mainstream corporates and large firms.

And in India’s top cities, Delhi National Capital Region (NCR), Mumbai, Bengaluru and Pune, a flexible working space is likely to lead to cost savings in the range of 20-25 percent when compared with leasing traditional office space.

What does it mean for the industry?

The stats mentioned above evidently prove that corporates have a large amount of available space in the form of co-working spaces, to use and experiment with. However, corporates cannot always rely on co-working centres across newer regions and new expansion areas.

They need to have their own set up which provides the same level of flexibility, if not cost and time saving in terms of a daily commute to the office at the same time, facilitating a certain level of governance and control.

Significant gains can be achieved if the current portfolio of offices is gradually transformed and moulded to the requirements of a large workforce stationed at a particular office. Some have already started experimenting with office refurbishments and are clearly the early adopters. A large well-known e-commerce company, for instance, has kept a few floors vacant in its upcoming office spaces, to experiment with the co-working concept.

Fortunately, the latest trends in the office segment suggest that big companies are consolidating in terms of space use. They now prefer a big campus instead of a number of small offices. Such a consolidation opportunity can always be utilised to transform the offices into something that enhances the human experience.

It is likely that the trend will increasingly capture the minds of office administrators, strategy heads and CEOs/MDs of companies. They will continue to evolve with the passage of time. With this, the role of all stakeholders involved will become increasingly vital for the industry.

As MNCs move out of their traditional office set-ups, Indian corporates (read traditional/family-run Indian companies), and small and medium enterprises will also bring that professionalism along with flexible workspaces. Winds of change are blowing, exciting times ahead!

[This is an authored article by Sandeep Sethi, Chair – Corporate Solutions & Managing Director – Integrated Facilities Management, West Asia, JLL. All views, opinions and expressions are personal and limited to the author.]

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