Co-working spaces a relief for start-ups

Deccan Chronicle.  | Naveena Ghanate

Nation, Current Affairs

Increasing real estate costs, low rentals let trend grow.

Flexible spaces account for approximately 1.7 per cent of total stock in Asia-Pacific.

Hyderabad: Owning an independent office is no longer the concern for a start-up or other companies nowadays as the city has joined the concept of “co-working spaces” where entities can rent work stations with funky interiors and recreational facilities.

Some companies have also engaged such working spaces in hotels. A co-working space, Awfis, has space inside the Taj Deccan in Hyderabad.

Besides ideal work environment, such spaces provide employees with facilities for dining, recreation and career assistance. Rising demand for material comfort along with the requirement of a creative environment has resulted in increasing requirement of these spaces.

The appeal of a range of workplace options and of the ability to work from different locations, some closer to home, in a flexible space with amenities has made these spaces the preferable options amongst  occupiers.

Experts opine that this trend has caught on because of increasing real estate costs, low lock-in period and rentals compared to conventional office spaces. According to the CBRE, Hyderabad stands fourth after Bengaluru, Mumbai and Delhi in co-working spaces.

The co-working spaces boom is due to the increasing craze for a start-up ecosystem. Ms Monika Misra, co-founder, iKeva, said, “When start-up employees are spending long hours at work sometimes 16 hours people try to find avenues to release stress by hitting the gym or play area or gaming zones. Internet, tea and coffee along with a pantry are part of basic infrastructure.”

She said co-working spaces were designed in a way that facilitates enough breaks, be it creches for young mothers or a tie-up with a gym. “We have tied up with a gym for a bare minimum cost, which startups in our workspace can use,” Ms Misra said.

She adds that the overall cost burden is minimal on the individual. This practice is generally found in large tech parks but is now making inroads into small co-working workspaces as well which can accommodate people in the hundreds. As employees want flexibility in all aspects of work, it is evident that flexible spaces are here to stay. 

Mr Ram Chandnani, MD, advisory and transaction services India, CBRE, said, “Flexible workplaces are emerging as a popular and viable RE solution, not only for start-ups but also for established corporates. As per CBRE estimates, millennials account for about one-fourth of employees working from flexible spaces in India.”

Mr Chandnani said newer patterns were now emerging in workplace strategies which initially involved the introduction of ‘we’ or collaborative spaces over ‘me’ or private spaces.

According to the CBRE, the convenience of ‘plug and play’ formats offered by these new-gen workspaces enable companies to follow the ‘hub and spoke’ model, with the corporate office serving as the ‘hub’ and flexible spaces spread across the city acting as ‘spokes’.

Mr Chandnani added, “We foresee flexible operators eyeing retail spaces, especially shopping centers as well as mixed-use developments. Flexible space operators are also anticipated to become more attuned to the latest technology, which could benefit both corporates and employees.”