Co-working growth post Covid-19 would be phenomenal: experts at a webinar

New Delhi: Realty WEBSERIES which is being organised by ICCPL, country’s leading PR firm in association with Realty & More, a renowned realty magazine, moved to the theme 'Coworking Dynamics: Post Covid-19' in its 6th edition (webinar). While being positive about what future holds for the segment, experts discussed growing demand of shared spaces especially when corporate are trying to cut down on budget.

The panel included Ankur Bhatiani, Director, Urbainia Spaces; Oshikka Lumb, Co-Founder, FindMyCowork; Vikas Lakhani, Co-Founder, Insta Office; Puneet Chandra, Co-Founder & Director, Skootr;  Tanisha Batra, MD, Worknest Business Centre; Vineet Anand, Director, Office Services NCR-Colliers International; and Prashant Sharma, Founder, Next57 Coworking.

While saying that lot of layoffs of good high paying resources are happening in big companies who might start something of their own, Oshikka Lumb, Co-Founder, FindMyCowork, said, “We got decent queries from tier 2 cities. In the last few weeks good queries coming from higher companies. There has been shift from traditional working space to managed working spaces. The demand for virtual space has increased and many MNCs are asking for director's cabin, etc. The demand from tier 2 cities such as Indore, Ahmedabad, and Coimbatore is also encouraging. MNCs have high capex cost and these companies will adopt flexible working and decentralisation that will help co-working players. A lot of collaboration queries are coming up where both partners can work together. This is going to be gradual boom for the sector.”

Ankur Bhatiani, Director, Urbainia Spaces, which is developing Seed Lab –  a co-working space project to be delivered soon, agreed with Lumb and said, “In next two three months we will have clear picture as to where the industry will go. Walk to work will be future as companies will have co-working spaces in nearby areas.”

Maintaining that the cost cutting measures taken by companies including salary cuts do not mean that the demand for co-working will get negative impact, Puneet Chandra, Co-Founder & Director, Skootr, said, “Whatever downsizing corporate is doing, they will definitely move towards flexible spaces. Even when these companies are cutting down on space requirement, it still is business for us. In any downturn everyone saves initially, and in coming six months co-working players will thank COVID-19. Co-working spaces will again see the same kind of growth which was there before COVId-19.”

While discussing the price negotiation issue and the general perception that everyone now is looking for discounts, the experts during the webinar were unanimously of the view that the clients are coming for flexibility options and not for discounts. Tanisha Batra, MD, Worknest Business Centre, said, “A lot of existing tenants are coming for resizing. In fact, there has been a substantial increase of business in last one month, and these leases are long term. Right now focus is on making long term relationships. Now companies are taking small offices in other places as against big spaces in CBDs, which helps in business continuity.”

Agrees Vineet Anand, Director, Office Services NCR-Colliers International, when he said, “Every occupier is looking for flexibility such as break options in lease deed, resizing the space, etc. Everybody is hit, nobody is asking for long term solutions our clients are asking to restructure leases and secure feature with flexibility norms in lease deeds.”

Everybody is looking for single solution regarding rentals, said Vikas Lakhani, Co-Founder, Insta Office, adding that “Every property is unique in a way that some have fixed rentals, some have lock-in, some are graded, some are institutional landlords, etc. All these factors play a role when taking a call on cost.. Most of the clients have ben asking for it, but it all depends on nature of agreement.”

On the demands of co-working players from the Government, Lakhani, who is also a core team member of Indian Workspace Association (IWA), said, “Most industries are effected as entire business cycle has come to a standstill and so does the co-working. As we are a young industry we need cash flow so we asked to expedite the refund of TDS. Government addressed it. Some demands are met by the government indirectly also such as the reduction of GST, etc.”

The panellists agreed that Industries immediate loss in first month or two would be between 10-35 per cent depending on client segment and user profile. Chandra of Skootr, said, “Premium segment companies are more stable and can sustain such downturns. We got a number of inquiries from corporate and all co-working players will benefit from it. Co-working spaces who depended on startups have taken most hit but these companies will emerge stronger post Covid.”

Seconded Prashant Sharma, Founder, Next57 Coworking, “In Tier 2 cities, major portfolio is of startups and there is a drop in occupancy as people are not sure about when the business will start. But after lockdown, traditional businesses will also be looking for flexible spaces. As of now, every customer is evaluating cost cut down. So in a week's time we will have clear picture. In tier 2 cities, people have bigger spaces and can move to work from home but then there are companies who are downsizing and looking for option of co-working. Flexibility is the key and bandwidth will increase.”

Positive from Covid-19 has emerged that international funds are realising the growth of this segment in India and many realtors are offering these spaces to enter their malls on partnership model which will help their portfolio look more valuable. Lumb of FindMyCowork said, “Work from Home (WFH) was working well as there was no distraction with everyone sitting at home due to lockdown but no good company want it as a culture. It cannot be a long term model. Working in office is part of social life. Yes people will ask for flexibility which co-working spaces can provide. In fact, there are people who would appreciate paying a premium to spaces that can take care of these needs.”

Realty WEBSERIES is an initiative which during the lockdown has given a new paradigm to how realty shows were watched. The series of live webinars is being watched by thousands across the nation gets millions of views within few hours. The platform has delved into discussing important aspects of realty sector which post COVID 19 pandemic in India the viewers want to understand.


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