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Reimagining Office During and Post COVID-19

There are numerous advantages of choosing co-working space over the office and work from home - data sensitivity, working setup, productivity enhancement, sanitisation and hygienic environment, emotional and mental stability.

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The pandemic has jeopardised the standard world order. People are grappling with layoffs and furloughs, economies are tumbling and everyone faces a common existential threat. Who would have imagined being forced to stay home, say no to travel, and follow social distancing? This is an unprecedented reality which has dramatically transformed our lives and the world of work.

While many organisations have resorted to the work from home policy to keep their employees safe, with each passing day, people are only growing anxious about when normalcy will resume. Now that most of the lockdown restrictions have been eased, it is the time for organisations to start re-thinking about their approach.

Concerns and Current Exit Strategy from Lockdown

Let us do a quantitative as well as qualitative analysis of the current situation considering that there are 3 pillars of business - employees, productivity and economics. Additionally, according to the market trend, we assume that 30% of the workforce is going to the office and 70% working is working from home. Assuming that a company spends 100 INR on an employee in regular office set-up, in work from home, it spends only 80 INR i.e. savings of 20% and in office + WFH set up, it saves 14% with a spending of 86 on an employee.

In terms of trade-off, what a company saves on operational expenditure in work from home set-up, it loses on productivity, control, innovation and employee retention.

Optimal Strategy

The optimal strategy in and post-COVID-19 is complemented by a Super Model which breaks years of the lease and capital investment into months and days. The first option is a 12-18 months contract which gives a serviced and managed office and second, a 6-8 months contract which gives Satellite/Cluster/Branch setup in Intercity/Intracity Offices; and third is work from home or no contract where employees work on monthly passes or month on month rolling contract.

The next challenge facing any organization is the optimal team categorization. According to Qdesq Market Survey, 60% of workforce should be shifted to Flex Offices including Growth Team, Innovation Team, Sales Team, High Communication Projects, Third-Party Projects Team, Templatised Work Team; 25% workforce including Data Sensitive Team, Leadership and Management Team should be placed at Strategic Corporate Office (SCO); and 15% workforce composing of Templatised Work Team, Lean Teams and Senior Colleagues (above 50 years) shall do productive remote working.

This optimal strategy would result in approximately 20% savings across salary & monetary bonus, employee welfare activities, infrastructure & IT, office rent and savings along with enhanced productivity and low carbon footprint.

There are numerous advantages of choosing co-working space over the office and work from home - data sensitivity, working setup, productivity enhancement, sanitisation and hygienic environment, emotional and mental stability, and Hawthorne effect. Moreover, co-working spaces have the capability of scaling Pan India across Tier 1 to Tier 4 cities.

Evolving Behaviour

According to GCUC 2019, flexible workspaces are gaining immense popularity with both enterprise companies and freelancers. Globally, there were over 35,000 flexible workspaces in 2019. Moreover, Statistica's analysis of co-working spaces in 2019 revealed that there were around 18,700 co-working spaces around the globe which is expected to reach nearly 26,000 by 2025.

Corporates are increasingly inclined towards bringing efficiencies in space management because of Capex and a thriving start-up ecosystem. Moreover, the growing demand from the remote worker communities, consultants, and corporates has played a major role in the growth of co-working spaces. Supplemented by the current situation, the budding popularity of such spaces is expected to only increase further. The flexibility combined with superlative amenities are attracting occupiers to co-working spaces.

According to FICCI - Co-working Reshaping Indian Workspaces 2019, the co-working share in office leasing in the top seven cities of India grew from 5% (2017) to 8% (2018) to 12% in the first quarter of 2019. Further, according to Colliers International, in India, leasing by flexible workplace operators crossed seven million square feet during 2018, accounting for 14% of the total leasing during the year.

Summing It All Up

In response to the pandemic, the ways of working, working environment and office, all are changing. One thing is sure, coronavirus is here to stay for a long time and we cannot continue working from home forever. An optimal workspace strategy is the need of the hour, the one which provisions lease terms, productivity, flexibility in workspace size and operational capacity.

No matter how things get re-shaped, genuine understanding of concerns and challenges remain the key. Wherever organisations choose to move forward their business post pandemic, professionals will surely place greater value on their flexibility.

(The author of the given article is Paras Arora, Founder & CEO, Qdesq)

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offices workspaces Post COVID-19 Paras Arora Qdesq