Arnab Ghosh - Director_Synergy Property Development Services

Co-working is a workplace provider model that involves individuals working independently or collaboratively in shared office space. The typical user of a co-working facility is from the millennial generation working freelance or part of a new startup, catering to a niche industry.

“By 2020, the number of branded co-working spaces will grow four-fold to 400 centres” – said Mr. Arnab Ghosh, Director Synergy Property Development Services

Co-working spaces are undoubtedly shaping up the future of work culture in India today. The potential market size for the segment across the country currently stands in the range of 12-16 million seats. The co-working operator provides a designed work environment along with office equipment and amenities found in a typical office. Typical features of co-working facilities include:

  • Hot Desks
  • Cabins of various modules
  • Conference rooms are available on rent and reservation basis.
  • Wi-Fi and 24/7 Access
  • Communal printer/copier/fax.
  • Shared kitchens, bathrooms and lounges.

Co-working facilities follow various business models. Some facilities, for example, are cooperatively managed spaces run as non-profit organizations. Other models include flat-rate memberships and fee structures based on access for a single visit or a certain number of days per week, month or year. The fee structure is also dependent on various factors like location of the workplace to the various common facilities and features provided by the operator.

Bernie DeKoven first used the term “co-working” in this sense in 1995. The first designated co-working space opened San Francisco in 2005. The thriving start-up ecosystem across geographies, along with an overwhelming acceptance of unconventional work space among the young working population today have created a huge demand for co-working space. According to a report by real-estate consultancy JLL and New York-based co-working company WeWork, it is estimated that by 2020, the number of branded co-working spaces will grow four-fold to 400 centres.

Conveniently located, innovatively designed, funky co-working spaces are no more a niche today. Moreover, the huge cost saving that can be derived by choosing co-work space over separate office is another lucrative aspect that attracts organizations to accept co-work culture wholeheartedly. Researchers suggest that monthly membership fees for a desk at a co-work space varies approximately between Rs. 3,000 and Rs. 10,000, making them particularly attractive for small firms looking to save money. According to the report by JLL and WeWork, a seat in co-working space costs anywhere between half to one-third of that in a conventional setup.

Though the concept of co-working space has been there for a few years now, last year saw tremendous growth in co-working space globally. The concept is gaining tremendous popularity among not just the start-ups, but also corporate enterprises and small businesses. Several large corporates are now focusing on consolidating businesses to maximize their productivity, and are choosing co-working spaces. In India, with the entry of Wework, one of the fastest growing co-working brand last year, we are witnessing a sudden spurt of co-working places across all Indian metros. Coworks, Awfis, Springboard, Ministry of New are all known entities now and expanding rapidly.

The way of perceiving desk related work is changing today. Wearable tools and technology now ensures that the employee don’t need to be physically connected to a laptop. Today, an employee is at the center of attention and a workplace should be designed the way employees want it to be. Now while employees look forward to a more adaptable office atmosphere, co-work places are designed keeping in mind their comfort. Co-working brands with greater visibility across geographies are placing their product as an offline and online collaboration facilitator. Most of them offer apps which as a member allow you to interact with other co-members working or using the same brand co-working space. It is this networking aspect which is attracting people from small and large companies to these spaces.

The future of workplace has been redefined by the co-working platform across the globe. The design, the ambience of these places are now slowly but steadily influencing the way normal offices need to be designed. The millennials are taking over the workplace, riding this trend. Conventional design is no longer preferred and corporate are revisiting the aesthetics of the workplaces which will motive the new generation workforce. Designers are finally getting larger say in creating these spaces. Amidst all these excitement however it is important to keep in mind the engineering principles which will reinforce the space. Energy efficiency, occupancy variability design demands, and flexibility in layouts will determine how these spaces compete and further make the business model successful.

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