Back in 2019, no one would have anticipated how rapidly the Indian workspace scenario would change this year. However, as they say, unprecedented times lead to unprecedented changes, and that is exactly what we are witnessing – the new age of Indian workspaces. Workspaces have come nearer to us and entered our homes as well and working remotely is no longer a choice but the new normal. All these changes will come to define India’s new approaches to work and workspaces significantly.
The future has already begun
The rise of flex workspaces, the start-up boom and the gig economy had already set into motion changes in the workspace preferences of organizations and the workforce. However, the onset of COVID has certainly accelerated this in a big way. Today, flex workspace options are being sought after even by the most traditional organizations who are seeing the merit in such models as it not only helps ensure the health and safety of their people in this environment but also helps them optimize their costs.
Work from anywhere – The new mantra
The new reality that we are in is here to stay, and we therefore need sustainable means to enable ease and efficiency of work in the long run. Therefore, going forward, I see a combination of different work set ups being more effective instead of placing bets on one alone. A hybrid model that will blend both virtual and physical environments is the way to go. Distributed workforce will lead to distributed workspaces that will cut across physical headquarters, satellite offices and homes pan India. Let’s take a look at the various approaches being explored as part of this new normal.
Homes as workspaces
According to a survey by Knight Frank, more than 70 per cent of companies are likely to continue the work-from-home policy for a percentage of their total staff for the next few months to maintain social distancing and for business continuity. However, for this to be a productive and convenient option at the same time, employees must be equipped with the right tools. Therefore, the need for work-from-home enabling solutions cannot be emphasized enough. According to a recent survey done by Awfis, around 71 per cent of employees feel they would be successful in working from home if they have a dedicated work area. For the home to double up as a conducive work environment, a complete set up is needed right from physical infrastructure to network connectivity and the requisite software. And we see companies increasingly investing in this for the benefit of their people and business operations.
The neighbourhood workspace
While work from home option is a great option, it comes with its own set of challenges. For instance, there are specific job roles that can be performed only in an office setup. However, in the current scenario, travelling over long distances to make it to main offices is not safe. And therefore coworking spaces near home are a preferred option. Coworking spaces have a large footprint thereby offering a lot of flexibility and access to a distributed workforce spread across the country, and are cost effective as well along with offering all the latest workspace amenities and facilities. Additionally, with the workforce increasingly craving in person engagement, more collaboration and a sense of community, flex workspaces are essentially safe spaces to enable this.
Win-Win Workspace models
Today, another challenge that companies are faced with is unutilized or underutilized real estate as a result of their workforce working from home or subsequent downsizing. At the same time, they are also unable to let go of this space due to limitations on lease terminations and future growth projections and expansion plans. This has led to these organizations partnering with flex workspaces like us to redesign and optimize this real estate, while creating an additional revenue source for them. This in turn adds to the network of shared workspaces across the country thereby further fuelling access to nearby coworking spaces for people across India.
Emergence of the smart office
Another emerging trend is that of the smart office concept that provides employees with an environment to unleash their true potential and enhance their productivity seamlessly. Smart office set ups are tech enabled and allow for hassle free operations and maintenance of office spaces with a single point of contact. For example, at Awfis, our app now comes with a touch-free smart scan option, booking of F&B for desk delivery, geo-tagged attendance management and customer first desk for easy reporting and tracking of issues thereby reducing the need for an in-person interface.
Re-designing of the workspace
We have seen office spaces change over the years from the traditional cabins to open offices. In a post COVID environment, we will see yet another wave of change with designs being further modified to ensure appropriate social distancing amongst the workforce.
With all the aforementioned options to work with, organizations will need to embrace models that work best for them – some even choosing to work with a combination of various workspace options that will cater to the varied requirements of their business and people in the best possible way, to offer a productive, convenient and sustainable workspace environment for the workforce.