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Co-work in India: What is expected to change

As the world adapts to the new normal in almost every aspect of life, buildings especially the commercial buildings are no exception. Smart and connected building technologies were already buzzing in pre-pandemic period, what has become more demanding now is the resilient building technologies.

Co-work segment, which had witnessed impressive growth in India and globally over the last few years before the pandemic, is now beginning to dwindle. The India co-work segment like any other sector is undergoing a big shake-up, where larger players with a good weightage of enterprise tenants will endure, but smaller operators may find it difficult to sustain the blow of low occupancy and increasing cost.

However, there are a few facts and trend which are certainly in favour of the existence of co-work spaces in India post this global crisis, but with a re-positioned structure. These noticeable  trend are – decentralisation of corporate offices, Work From Home fatigue kicking in, gap in mid-term real estate interim strategy of enterprises, commute time to office, safety of public transport, flexible nature of shared office space. Considering these developments as opportunities, many co-work players in the country are developing creative ways to attract and retain their tenants, especially the enterprise tenants. They seem to be realigning and repositioning their business models to fill the gaps which has resulted from the recent unprecedented shift.

Going ahead, the usage of co-work space may become ad-hoc and more of need basis, at least in short to medium term. They could be smaller spaces, housing lesser seats, hyperlocal and easily accessible in our neighbourhood, offering multiple options of rentals, etc. As the local restrictions are relaxed and business return to new normal, the shift in co-work and shared office space will evolve.

Be it corporate office building, multitenant business park or co-work space, the occupants have their own anxieties and insecurities about returning to the workplace. Specifically, in case of co-work, where the facility or building has multiple businesses occupying the same space, concerns over social distancing and preventive hygiene must be addressed proactively in the new normal scenario.

Here are the key aspects of co-work space that must be adapted to the changing scenario:

  1. Health and well-being: This aspect has become more important than ever, taking the centre stage in corporate real estate as well as in co-work and shared office spaces. One of the most important factors of well-being in the workplace is the indoor air-quality. A close monitoring and control of HVAC system becomes a critical requirement of any office space now. An integrated building management system clubbed with AI based analytics on HVAC assets of the premises is a certain answer to this concern. Thanks to Digital Building technologies by Schneider Electric which is an answer to the ambiguity related to indoor air quality and HVAC system.
  1. Contactless and remote access: From entering the facility to picking up your meal at the cafeteria to driving your car out of parking, the need of the hour is to minimise contacts and adapt more to remote access. Especially in a co-work kind of environment where the user is not sure who has been using the allocated space. An IoT enabled app is an important tool to help the occupants and users by providing contactless services.
  1. Redesigning workstations and maintaining prescribed distance: Co-work offices will have to relook into their seating arrangements and redesign their floor plan to ensure social distancing guidelines are met. Common areas like lobbies, reception, meeting room must be relooked to ensure there is no crowding. The IoT devices and analytics tools can help in maintaining the inflow of people and schedule space allocation. The occupant or the users can use the app to monitor and block spaces.
  1. Digitally Connected facilities: For co-work provider with multiple facilities, maintaining operational efficiencies is a big challenge during these times of low occupancy. This is when digitally connected buildings will use data-driven technology to plan efficiently and minimise their operations cost. Apart from energy efficiency, connected facilities are also an important must have for achieving energy sustainability KPIs, which many enterprise tenants look forward in the building they occupy. Centralised control & command centre (CCC) is another prominent digital trend for multi-site campuses which results in improved operational efficiency and energy sustainability using data-driven & intuitive technologies.

While industry experts are predicting multiple recovery models of co-working business, over 25 percent of co-work spaces available in the country are provided by small players who are vulnerable to the impact of existing crisis and prone to complete disintegration. But the basic value offer given by co-work space—which are flexible workspace and cost optimised space—will make a comeback as commercial real estate sector revives back with new normal.

For co-work to adapt faster to new normal, there are building technologies which are IoT enabled with open architectures for seamless integrations and one such leading the industry is Schneider Electric’s EcoStruxure platform. As we move towards making a building self-healing and autonomous, with occupant well-being and health as the primary focus, the technologies of  building management, analytical tools with advisory services becomes an important solution for futuristic and resilient co-work facilities.

To discover more about the Schneider Electric EcoStruxure for Commercial real estate, click here to visit the page.

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