21 Jan 2020 17:44 IST

Coworking spaces are here to stay

India is the second largest market; the option is cost effective and provides flexible offerings

India is the second largest market for the coworking industry, after China, with the sector slated to witness an upward growth trajectory. Of the 35,000 coworking spaces in the world, India is home to around 1,000 coworking locations, that house both start-ups and bigger companies, which are actively banking on the opportunities this kind of workplace brings to the table. The major reason why even MNCs and established businesses are tilting towards this trend is the access to flexible offerings — in terms of time and location — and the considerable scope for cutting operational costs.

Having primarily debuted in the urban areas, the trend has extended to tier-2 and 3 cities. Recent research shows that smaller cities such as Nagpur, Kochi, Indore and Chandigarh, comprise over 179 coworking spaces. All these facts are indicative of the growing potential in India for the coworking ecosystem. A recent study revealed that the Indian market can offer 12-16 million seats in coworking spaces to various businesses, be it start-ups, SMEs or MSMEs.

Why the buzz

With 27 per cent of its 1.3 billion population falling in the 10-24 age group, India is one of the youngest nations in the world. This young cohort is knowledge-savvy and has new-age working aspirations. No wonder they are inclined towards modern working trends. Being employed in this ecosystem allows them to collaborate, engage and network with like-minded people and experiment with newer practices to stay relevant.

Using such flexible workplaces as a springboard, young professionals can access newer avenues to innovate, nurture skills and build productive outcomes without compromising on privacy. Moreover, coworking not only enables start-ups to work cost-effectively, but also allows leading businesses to expand operations in newer markets.

Coworking opportunities

The PAN-India acceptance of coworking, including in tier-2 and 3 cities, has given the overall commercial real estate market a major fillip.

Realising the segment’s growth potential, both investors and landlords are rolling out ways to make coworking set-ups more user-friendly and accessible, mainly by introducing more flexible lease agreements. India’s coworking market saw investments of around $400 million in 2018 alone.

Access to talent

Since numerous companies operate under the same roof, it offers both employers and employees the scope to collaborate and freelance on different projects. While professionals can get better work opportunities, employers can discover the talent they have been looking for.

Flexibility brings productivity

When employees get their own space to innovate, backed by flexibility, outcomes are naturally more productive; this is not possible in a traditional office set-up. Besides, nowadays most businesses look for flexible lease agreements instead of long-term contracts. This gives them the opportunity to avoid extra operational costs while leveraging coworking facilities at the same price points.

Availability of amenities

Bean bags, breakout zones, foosball tables, standing desks, big LEDs — all these facilities enable professionals to work more efficiently in coworking spaces. For instance, if you are not in a mood to work at your allotted workstation, you always have the choice to sit on a comfy bean bag placed in any corner of the office area. This keeps employees engaged and motivated to work in their respective domains.

Coworking opens up a wide range of opportunities for both employers and employees to succeed in their businesses. And with India’s ever-growing start-up ecosystem, brimming with new-age talent and entrepreneurs, this trend seems set to grow further in 2020 and beyond.

(The writer is co-founder and managing partner, EverVantage.)