Hybrid working continues to be the most preferred workspace strategy, with 63% of the firms currently embracing it, as per a survey of large, mid-sized and small firms conducted by real estate professional services and investment management firm Colliers.
Firms from the consulting, BFSI, and engineering sectors are at the forefront of adopting hybrid working.
Three days a week in the office is the most popular hybrid working style for India Inc, with 26% of the firms preferring this. The survey indicated that this hybrid pattern allows businesses to pursue business goals without hindrances while offering better work-life balance to employees.
Hybrid working does not hinder productivity with 53% of the respondents saying that productivity has increased since remote work started, however, it comes with its own sets of challenges.
About 28% of the firms feel that discrepancy in a workplace environment is the biggest challenge in hybrid working, followed by communication barriers (25%), lack of collaboration (22%), and hit in productivity (17%).
Further employee convenience and higher occupancy costs in metro cities are prompting occupiers to consider non-metro cities. Since last year, flex spaces have been seeing a surge in enquiries from firms for office space in non-metro cities.
As per the survey, about 35% of the firms are willing to set up flex office spaces in non-metro cities to cater to changing employee needs.
“Consulting, BFSI, and technology companies are keen on setting up offices in non-metro cities. Overall, the interest levels towards building offices in non-metro cities will help reduce the infrastructure load on metro cities, and at the same time help build a cohesive business ecosystem in the smaller cities, leading to more equitable growth,” said Vimal Nadar, senior director and head of research, Colliers India.
Organisations look forward to strong portfolio expansion
About 38% of the organisations indicated that they are planning portfolio expansion in the next 6-18 months, by leasing traditional as well as flex spaces, says the survey.
A majority of the businesses implement hybrid working in varying degrees, 35% highlighted that they would like to retain their existing portfolios, while 13% look to consolidate their office spaces.
“The tier II story is back in the market. Large firms, especially, are leading this trend as almost 70% of the large enterprises are open to exploring flex in non-metro cities, while only 27% of the smaller firms are considering the same. About half of the firms who are planning office expansion in the next 6-18 months are from the technology sector, followed by BFSI.
"This is led by the massive growth these two sectors are seeing over the last two years. Interestingly, about one-third of the occupiers surveyed revealed that their productivity increased by 5-10% with hybrid working,” said Ramesh Nair, chief executive officer, India and managing director, market development | Asia, Colliers.
Nair added that offices are now evolving into centres of collaboration and innovation, with the wellbeing of employees at the core and hence, a hybrid work style needs to be supported by apt technological intervention to ensure seamless collaboration and communication.