Normal is dead!
As the industry prepares for life post lockdowns, we must prepare for a new normal. COVID-19 is here to stay till the time we have a vaccine for it, which is at least 10-12 months away. The social distancing norms, along with the advent of remote working will certainly change the definition of a ‘workspace’. Office spaces will not be the same as before and the coworking industry needs to prepare for that.
Based on our research, we see the following new trends coming into play in the coworking market.
1) More Spacious, Less Open Sitting Arrangement
Coworking spaces have thrived on the efficient utilization of space. However, that would not be the case anymore going forward. Social distancing norms will make it compulsory to have: larger area per seat (40 square feet), more space between desks and 3 side privacy with 3 sided desk dividers between desks.
We are looking at open spaces in coworking spaces having at least 33% decrease in utilization efficiency post-COVID-19. So a 100 seater open space, will now only be able to accommodate 67 desks. In private spaces for clients, the same trend would follow – however, it might be done on an area to area basis as per client requirements.
Any decrease in efficiency will have a proportionate impact on rental cost per seat!
2) Preference to Privately Owned Spaces & Managed Offices
Post coronavirus, life will be in a bubble. A safety bubble for the people you interact with every day. Interactions with anyone outside that bubble will be accompanied by a sense of fear and risk. Leading this into coworking, clients would want to avoid open spaces where you are not aware of the person sitting beside you/person walking by.
Companies would prefer to have private, enclosed areas, separate floors dedicated to them and may move towards managed offices. Coworking spaces will have to make modifications and try converting open sitting into private spaces as per client requirements.
If you need a private space or managed office, reach out to us here.
3) Less Physical, More Digital ‘Co’mmunity in ‘Co’working
The irony of all these changes is that they would limit physical community interactions at coworking spaces quite a bit. Consequently, the community part of coworking will take a hit.
Coworking spaces will have to modify their approach to build the community digitally. Online AMAs, workshops are a good way to start now. Physical events, even if done with all precautions, will have a stigma associated with it for the foreseeable future.
4) Demand for Hyperlocal Smaller Spaces near Home
Being forced to work remotely during the lockdown has changed how companies see remote working. It has made us realise that we do not need to travel every day for 2 hours to an office space in order to be efficient and that work can happen remotely as well.
Companies would want to avoid having all team members working from one central location. From a business continuity standpoint, they will have to move to multiple smaller offices across the city (to avoid being impacted by COVID-19 hotspots) – so that the employees don’t have to travel long distances and continue to work remotely in a more professional and productive set up than home.
To cater to this demand, we will see many smaller coworking spaces sprout up across the city and not just limited to business hubs.
Need multiple coworking spaces around the city? Reach out to us here. We have 200+ beautiful workspaces spread across all prime locations.
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5) Demand for Flexible Plans / Hot Desks
Many people will not be coming to the office every day. Companies would mandate shifts, work from home due to social distancing norms. In such cases, paying monthly rent for a reserved seat might not even make economic sense (since the seat is not used every day of the month).
People would actively pursue flexible options which are based on days of usage and not any fixed time period!
6) Growth of Coworking in Tier 2/ 3 Cities
COVID-19 had a lot of people in metropolitan cities scrambling back to their towns before lockdown. We are seeing everyone moving towards localization, with states closing borders and trying to curtail the spread.
Considering this trend (along with the higher risk of COVID-19 in metropolitan cities), we will see many new business districts come up in tier 2 / tier 3 cities. Coworking spaces can actually catch up to this newfound demand and cater to the clients. We will see many coworking brands expand to smaller cities come to the end of lockdown.
7) Growing Demand for Virtual Office Services
A lot of spaces offer virtual office (linked to about VO) packages with mail, phone handling and receptionist service. Clients can register that address for all documents and hold meetings there if needed without really having a person physically located at the space (it works out 1/10th the cost of taking up a seat).
Considering many companies have built processes to expand remotely / setup functionality remotely during COVID-19, there will be a growing demand for virtual offices to help test waters in different states and maintain a solid legal and professional appearance of the company being there without actually being there.
8) Faster Corporate Adoption of Coworking/Managed Offices
The COVID-19 scenario has led to lay-offs across the spectrum. Larger corporates have shrunk in size and also become more used to remote working. Combining this with the need to hedge employees across multiple offices for business continuity, we are looking at a highly accelerated adoption of coworking/managed offices among corporates.
They would want the flexibility of seats, lesser lock-ins and smaller workspaces across the cities. In such a scenario, coworking spaces look like the best option.
9) More Diverse & Approachable Real Estate Owners
With the predicted decreased adsorption of commercial real estate and many enterprises moving towards coworking, we do expect supply to also tilt towards it. Space owners with empty yet furnished properties will look to set up their own coworking or partner with an existing brand.
Even property owners who own a lot of PGs/ hotels will look to diversify and convert a few of their properties to coworking spaces. We are looking at an influx of standalone coworking players, better terms and a fresh segment of supply getting into coworking post the initial 3 months.
Who says real estate is boring? Coworking has some very interesting times ahead for sure!
Hope is very much alive! The new normal awaits.
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