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How Technology Is Shaping The Future Of The Co-living Sector

The need for social distancing has adversely affected the co-living industry, but with the advent of technology and rise in the need of safe & hygienic accommodations, the sector is to bounce back pretty soon.

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The very idea of calling a place one’s ‘home’ is undergoing a major transformation. Thanks to nomadic millennials, who are giving a face-lift to the country’s real estate sector, the concept of co-living is emerging and thriving. The idea of shared living has been around since ages in India. From sharing your space in Dharamshala to the early concept of paying guests and student hostels, co-living has existed in the country in various shapes and forms. In today’s day and time, the always-on generation is greatly benefited with the flexible affordable living options, no huge security deposits and no hassle of dealing with the brokers that come in an attractive package of a coliving solution.  Following the Coronavirus pandemic, the need for social distancing has adversely affected the co-living industry, but with the advent of technology and rise in the need of safe & hygienic accommodations,  the sector is to bounce back pretty soon. 

Using technology to implement new SOPs for safety & hygiene

With safety & hygiene as the top customer's priority, and social distancing norms set to continue for the foreseeable future, co-living players are now focussed on reinventing themselves. Organised players and branded companies have a huge advantage, and this presents them with an opportunity they can cash onto. Regular stringent checks and hygiene practices are being implemented, which can be monitored remotely through in-house management apps to track the sanitisation levels of the building. 

House management apps & security measures

With cell phones becoming indispensable, co-living players are using mobile apps to interact and make the lives of its residents more comfortable. The app ensures seamless communication and provides instant help if required. The in-built apps also allow residents to log issues, request for meals, laundry services or even a request to change one’s roommate (yes, this too!) and the overall system facilitates faster resolution. Safety and security continue to be a top priority for the majority of these players. Many players have installed biometric, facial recognition set-ups including 24X7 concierge and physical presence of security guards.

Digitization of the sector: Customer delight, Online payment, Virtual property tours

Digital technology is most-suited to serve guests when face-to-face interactions aren’t possible especially during these challenging times. The move-in and move-out procedures are now completely digital and are being managed by various tools and apps. The companies have also changed the messaging in their email responses or app notifications to reflect changes brought about by new safety protocols. Majority of the players are investing in new technologies such as AI and ML to offer user-friendly services and learn customer behaviour to provide customised offerings.

Building community virtually

In a sector built around physical locations, digital tools are also helping foster the sense of community. Community is an essential part of the co-living industry’s overall value proposition, and regular in-person meets are a huge part of this living experience. Rather than conducting regular meet-ups physically, most of these events have been shifted online. Many are organising digital events such as cooking classes, music sessions or even virtual dance parties to maintain a communal living. Interactivity is key to making these e-meets a success. It’s important to have an online feedback system which allows residents to suggest ideas and give their feedback for future events. 

For the always-on and constantly moving millennials and GenZ, co-living is one of the most preferred modes of accommodation which provides an affordable, safe, hygienic and convenient living option in a new city. However, in unprecedented times, shared living is becoming a challenging sector as most people prefer focussing on single occupancies. Technology in co-living can be taken to the next level through gamification techniques that will motivate residents' actions or trigger behaviour changes. These can then result in an increased participation in virtual events, help making changes to their food or power consumption to avoid wastage etc. With the use of smart locks, or digital check-ins, residents can easily access their rooms without physical keys and also helps keeping a check on the security measures of the building. I truly believe that co-living players are equipped to meet this incoming demand for great experiences. With things now started settling in, newer opportunities are beginning to emerge, and one thing is for sure that with technology at the heart - the co-living sector is definitely here to stay!

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house. Unless otherwise noted, the author is writing in his/her personal capacity. They are not intended and should not be thought to represent official ideas, attitudes, or policies of any agency or institution.

Tags assigned to this article:
technology hospitality coronavirus pandemic

Ankit Gupta .

The author is Chief Executive Officer - Frontier, OYO LIFE & Workspaces, OYO India & South Asia

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