Co-working means “a way of working in which working individuals gather in a place to create value while sharing information and wisdom by means of communication and cooperating under the conditions of their choices”[1]. In other words, co-working spaces represent an office atmosphere that has a heterogeneous group of workers or freelancers via creating networking opportunities by social interaction and come up with myriad advantages such as cutting costs, gaining flexibility, and new perspectives[2].

Why Co working spaces evolved?

As per a review by Harvard Business School on Why People Thrive in Co-working Spaces, the below reasons were listed out as possibilities of their rise and demand. Social and learning events, unique spatial design, and more importantly a unique blend of personalities of the other members add to the atmosphere and culture they co-create, contributing to a ‘home-like’ environment. Co-working spaces are normally accessible 24/7 giving people the flexibility to decide when to work. Each co-working space has its own vibe, and the managers of each space go to great lengths to cultivate a unique experience that meets the needs of their respective members. It has been seen by many as a catalyst for modern office spaces and as expansion spaces for large corporates. Co-working spaces have been particularly popular with SMEs and startups who require physical office address without having to own an actual setup.

Statistics regarding India’s co- working market

As per a report from Times of India published on May 12, 2020, India has the world’s third-largest startup ecosystem, comprising of over 50,000 businesses. As India’s co-working industry opened up new arenas of growth for start-ups, entrepreneurs have welcomed the concept of flexible workspaces and benefited from the collaborative, inclusive culture that is at the very heart of every co-working space.

According to recent a report from MYHQ (one of the leading flexible workspace operators in India), as compared to just a few small players in 2010, India today has several large players in the space. The growth in the sector in India is almost at par with global trends that show a 3050% increase in the number of co-working facilities since 2010.

As in 2019 India had grown to become the second-largest market for flexible workspaces in APAC and was expecting a much higher boom in 2020 as well.

Challenges faced by the segment due to covid

As the year 2020, saw a pandemic outbreak throughout the globe, many of these workspaces had to shut down facilities for now. While some co-working space operators might not be able to make it out of this crisis, others that do will have to make significant changes in their operations.

Some major challenges faced by the operators in the business are:

1. Getting burdened under pressure due to sharp drop in footfalls following the COVID-19 pandemic.

2. Many employees working from home now over expressions that many of them would continue to do so even after the current pandemic situation gets normalized.

3. Need to reassess their structures and density control in their spaces.

5. Maintenance of these spaces during the pandemic.

6. Need of newer systems of cleanliness and ventilations to keep the area safe.

7. Redesigning their spaces to adjust to new conditions and fulfilling the current user demands in terms of technology, automation, etc.

8. Offerings to support or maintain the current members associated with the business.

9. Disconnection of co-working communities.

Ongoing Discussions regarding the business:

How to strategize and develop new models for survival

As stated in an article published by Forbes in April 2020, the operators of the co-working spaces around the globe believe that there are few reasons why the co-working industry should emerge from the COVID-19 crisis not only stronger but also more important and necessary. Firstly, Co-working spaces play a key role in hosting the relocated remote workers and helping them plug into the local scene. Secondly, resource coordination for small businesses and lastly co-working spaces are local economic engines in their own right.

The challenges that we’re facing today and the economic downturn we’re heading to will grow the need for flexibility.

Future trend of co-working space post covid

As per a LinkedIn report by Petr Adamek, CEO at Canberra Innovation, corporate tenants will explore the optimal mix of corporate offices and other more flexible arrangements, including co-working memberships and working from home arrangements. The largest IT services firm in India, Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) switched 90% of their 450,000 workforces to the working from the home model (called borderless office) overnight. And according to their CEO, ‘they are not coming back any soon’.

Predicting the future trends:

1. Estimating the usage of their spaces, monitoring and managing the density and flow, and creating flexibility to make adjustments and communicating proper standards of procedures will be critical for their re-entry in the transition period as people would be looking for flexible private working spaces rather than co-working spaces.

2.  More virtual services.

3. Large office space users are rethinking their operating model.

4. Planning in size, design, technology and automation.

5. Long term economic models for pricing their offerings.

6. Work opportunities remodeled for customers in association with brands.

7. Human reconnection and belonging.


  • References:
  • [1] A theoretical study on the concept of Co-working by Tadahsi UA, Graduate School of Economics and Business Administration, Hokkaido University.
  • [2] A NEW BUSINESS MODEL: COWORKING OFFICES by Dr. Öğr.Üyesi Onur BaĢar ÖZBOZKURT Tarsus Universities.
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