Future Of Work Will Revolve Around Flexibility
Manas Mehrotra, Chairman, 315Work Avenue briefs on the Co working sector business strategies during and post COVID
Will coronavirus permanently change the way co-working companies function?
The coronavirus outbreak has globally disrupted the business cycle leading to a slowdown. Resilience of business models, resourcefulness of the teams, and responsible cash management of the companies are put to test. While concerns around Covid-19 have also led to reduced footfalls in co-workspaces which have been growing at a rapid pace for the last few years, this blip could be temporary and last till precautions are deemed necessary. With the pandemic now impacting the global work patterns, ‘change has become the only constant’. This situation has taught us that we can still continue to work, owing to technology and commitment. Many businesses will now seize the opportunity to rethink their working arrangements to provide more flexibility to their employees than ever before, especially considering the benefits of productivity and engagement, and, this will push up the demand for co working spaces. Most corporates would avoid capital expenditures and look to co-working facilities to expand their business. It’s an opportunity to show how the coworking models can also offer new solutions and make our economy more resilient in such circumstances. Hence a silver lining in all this is that this has offered coworking providers an opportunity to re-think their strategy and make the segment more attractive for consumers. Another win for co-working will also come from the fact that companies will have to practice social distancing within their campuses, which means they might have to station some employees in different locations.
Will community working and living be a safe practice post COVID?
As long as hygiene practices and health precautions are enforced, coworking spaces provide an alternative for businesses in need of a substitute workspace that may prove useful. Coworking companies will score high on the social quotient and it’s only a matter of time before coworking spaces churn out in a new form. People need options and access to a collaborative environment is needed for success in life and work. The COVID-19 is certainly not an end to the co-working culture as people would discover that the benefits of social gatherings in terms of emotional and intellectual fulfillment would be a crucial necessity for the overall health of a society.
Is working from home here to stay even post the pandemic?
More companies are discovering the viability of employees working from home (WFH) as an alternative to office spaces. However, the productivity of working from home is a relative question. Each individual is different, each business is different. Many business verticals and functions still require employees to work in an office setting. The productivity therefore is dependent on the aptitude of the individual and the environment at home that the person is exposed to. Hence some factors may or may not be favourable at home for a productive work day. However, if the business can support work from home function, it should definitely exercise it. As coworking companies navigate the great unknown, not all remote workers have access to the amenities they need to productively work from home, making coworking spaces appealing during this time of crisis.
What are your plans to restart business post the crisis?
A post-lockdown world could see significant changes to the way co-working spaces operate, as they look to adapt to a ‘new normal’ in which social distancing plays a critical role. In the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic, while the businesses may be under pressure temporarily, investor sentiment remains buoyed and the commercial operators are hopeful of better days ahead. Sometimes, a crisis also presents an opportunity to make decisions that would be hard to make in more business-as-usual times. While this year will be a challenging year, but we look to the future with optimism.
Changes are inevitable after the lockdown and hence hygiene at the workplace will be prioritised. There will be a lot of focus on distancing measures and communication protocols to ensure a safe working environment. We are taking every measure to minimize the risk of transmission. From a seating arrangement perspective, spaces in common areas and conference rooms are being reviewed and modified to ensure proper distancing. We have also implemented robotic visitor management system which will also ensure mandatory temperature screening, disinfecting all surfaces and floors at regular intervals by using UV rays, placement of sanitizer bottles, mandatory masks etc. Technology, too, will play its part. Coworking space providers would now have to rethink their strategy, packages, interior and design areas, and make the segment more attractive for consumers. There’s now a lot more interest in taking dedicated and secure private offices and that’s the big shift in the flexible office space industry.
Going by the trend and current global phenomenon the future of work is going to revolve around the flexibility to work remotely and avoid crowding in large standalone offices. The co working industry will be one of the quickest to bounce back.