Winning Stroke

In an interview, Harsh Binani, Co-Founder, Smartworks opens up about his personal preferences, life and much more

If not in the current profession, you would be?
I’d be a professional singer.

One tune you always hum.
Don’t worry, be happy-Bob Dylan

One book to read when you want to motivate yourselves?
Zero to One: How to Build the future, by Peter Theil

One dialogue of a movie that motivates you or you like the most.
“Don’t ever let someone tell you you can’t do something. Not even me. You got a dream, you got to protect it. People can’t do something themselves, they want to tell you you can’t do it. You want something, go get it. Period. All right?” – Pursuit of Happiness

The place you never been to and always want to go?
I have always wanted to go on an expedition to Antarctica, for the breathtaking and spectacular landscape, freezing temperatures, wildlife and a challenge hard to resist!

An animal that signifies you & why?
I can most relate to a horse, for its kind, free and dependable characteristics.

A movie character you most resemble or resonate with?
Inspired by Abhishek Bachchan’s role in the movie, Guru, in which he portrayed the role of Dhirubhai Ambani

Choose one from each below :
Marvel or DC – Marvel
Batman or Superman – Superman
Tom or Jerry – Jerry
Chacha Chaudhary or Super Commando – Chacha Chaudhary

If your life was to be turned into a movie who would you like to play your part?
Akshay Kumar

Luck or Hard Work, What do you think weighs more in defining a successful person? Hardwork

One best decision you ever made.
Staying within my comfort zone makes me nervous. I’m glad to have followed my intuition and decided to move out of Kolkata early on post completing my high school to follow my dreams to pursue an MBA from Kellogg, worked with McKinsey for over five years and ultimately started Smartworks, my own venture with my brother in law, Neetish Sarda.

A strategy that you always use to take your decisions in personal or professional life?
Always think long term.

Whose advise you seek when in dilemma?
My older sister as she is unbiased in her approach and helps me carefully think through the pros and cons in every situation.

What has been your biggest achievement?
My biggest achievement is yet to come however I am extremely proud of having started Smartworks, a coworking space for offices. Within a span of two years, we managed to bootstrap and expand to nine cities and 14 centers across India.

One thing that you want to change in yourself.
Spend time on my fitness regime

A line said by your closed one that you never forget.
The game isn’t over until you quit.

Smartworks leases 3 lakh sq ft shared space with Mapletree in Bengaluru

Smartworks, a shared space provider, has leased 3 lakh sq ft of workspace in Mapletree’s Global Technology Park situated along the Outer Ring Road, Bengaluru.

The centre will have a sitting capacity of 6,000 seats with rent varying from Rs 10,000-15,000 per seat per month.

Mapletree India Management Services, which had acquired the IT Park in 2011, declined to comment.

Neetish Sarda, founder of the company claims that about 30% of the space is pre-sold. Incedo, a technology solutions and services provider, is one of the tenants that have leased space in the centre.

Smartworks has invested about $15 million since its inception in 2016. It currently has 14 centres with 7 lakh sq ft space across nine cities i.e. Delhi, Gurugram, Noida, Kolkata, Bangalore, Mumbai, Pune, Chennai and Hyderabad.

The company plans to lease at least 3.5 million sq ft of shared workspace in future. “We aim to expand in South and West India in the next quarter,” said Sarda.

Office spaces across India are getting trendy and cosy by the time. Companies are trying hard to make their employees feel at home. Trendy colours and open office spaces have taken the place of single colour cubicles.

Colourful furniture and complementary graphics add liveliness to the office space.

CREDIT: Nelson India

Waiting area is not so boring now!!

A collaborative seating zone with eclectic lighting provides a welcome multi-use meeting/ waiting/ discussion space.

Meeting booths are getting casual

Gone are days when meetings used to be held behind closed doors. Here collaborative zones feature semi-enclosed meeting booths with comfortable sofa seating for a quick one on one or team discussion.

Open office environment leads to more productivity

120-degree workstation arrangements allow for both sufficient individual privacy and team-wise definition of space in an open office environment.

Such designs are increasingly being used by companies to allow employees to interact with each other creating a warm environment eventually improving the overall productivity.

Dull colours are the things of the past

Many may not know but colours also play an important role while designing an office space.

Vibrant and trendy colours add a fun element to the office spaces.

A welcome break from the work

Aesthetically designed food and beverage corner with a high bar counter type seating, visi-cooler and tea-coffee dispensar provides for a great place for chit-chat and a welcome break from the work.

Open seating creates a congenial work atmosphere

Taking open office seating to the next level by removing all screens and partitions to encourage interaction and collaboration.

The accent colours on walls and columns with well-placed graphics and greenery create a congenial work atmosphere.

‘Getaway’ areas a common trend

‘Get away’ areas are being designed at every corner of the office which can be utilised for various purposes.

Even a circulation space is transformed into a lively interaction space with wooden flooring and backdrop of interestingly numbered lockers.

The food and beverage counter or pantry in the background with a splash of colour further helps create a congenial atmosphere.

New age video conferencing space

Clean white lines define a new age video conferencing / entertainment space with a combination of sofa seating in front and high standing counter/ bar seating to accommodate more participants.

Open desking replacing individual workstations

Open desking without fixed user assigned seats or hot desking are replacing individual workstations as a new trend that is being embraced even by traditional offices.

Companies are even encouraging employees at the top managerial level to go for such open spaces to interact more with their team.

Island cabins are the new norms

The island cabins and meeting rooms are the new norm pushing the open work desks toward the external periphery for a better daylight penetration and hence a naturally brighter working environment.

Accent colours based on a theme or derived from corporate colours add a distinct character to these enclosed yet visually open spaces.

Shared workspace provider Smartworks expands to Bengaluru, now opeates 1M sq ft across country

Shared workspaces provider Smartworks has announced its new facility in Bengaluru that encompasses a footprint of three lakh square feet and 6,000 seats, taking the company’s total office space to 10 lakh square feet in India. This is in line with the company’s committed plans to grow its footprint by nearly 400 per cent, with its new centres in other Tier I cities of Mumbai, Chennai, and Hyderabad. With this launch, Smartworks is taking its total number of centres in India to 15, across nine cities, namely Delhi, Gurugram, Noida, Kolkata, Bengaluru, Mumbai, Pune, Chennai, and Hyderabad.

It provides fully serviced offices that offer a day pass, smart cubes, smart labs and smart suites.

The ever-increasing demand for workspaces in India’s Silicon Valley prompted Smartworks to add a new facility in Bengaluru, with as big a number of seats as 6,000. The expansion in the city of Chennai also owes to the rising demand there.

India has seen a surge in shared workspace providers in recent years. Smartworks claims to have brought on board several clients including Tata Communications, Microsoft, Arcelor Mittal, Amazon, Carrier, Otis, Daikin, Lenovo, Bacardi, Jaguar Land Rover and OLX among its 250+ strong client base.

For enterprises, the approach to shared workspaces is a complete blend of convenience and business. While these companies can attain tailor-made offices via shared workspace providers like Smartworks and avoid the financial burden of a lease, it is also a tremendous opportunity for them to experience a holistic environment, which leads to uplifting employee happiness and productivity.

In a statement released to the press, Neetish Sarda, Co-founder of Smartworks, said, “Currently, Smartworks is leading the shared office space in India, and with our upcoming expansions, we are reaching exponential growth levels, both in terms of revenue and office experience for our employees. We want our member companies to leverage the tremendous opportunities across our network and grow through the shared workplace model. This collaborative experience will usher in a new era of co-entrepreneurship fostering in a conducive environment designed to adapt the challenges of a perpetually changing business world.”

He adds, “Smartworks has taken into consideration that current traditional office spaces in India are out of sync with aspiring workforce needs of the youth that wants around-the-clock exposure to the sharing economy, modern consumerism and western practices. With differentiators such as understanding the needs of the Indian corporates and providing customised offices, state-of-the-art infrastructure, employee engagement programmes, Smartworks is completely disrupting the traditional office spaces.”

How innovatively-designed workplaces can boost employee productivity

Companies like Google, Apple, Netflix, Uber are able to improve productivity per employee more than most others because of the emphasis they put on workspaces.

Workplace design and employee productivity are joined at the hip. Literally. It’s no secret, but office design does matter in employee output. From layout, workspaces, corridors, open and closed spaces, conference rooms, staircases, elevators, walls to even bathrooms can go a long way in motivating employees to give their best. Or demotivating them if it’s just another box office. Indeed, where you work matters a lot.

If offices didn’t matter it would be kind of one size fits all and companies would be designing the same kind of cubicles, workspaces and desks. And the world would have saved a lot of brainstorming hours and millions of design dollars over what kind of offices to build — a Googleplex or an Apple Park, more like a spaceship or Amazon spheres. Yet we need those uniquely designed, well thought out workspaces, not just because they look fancy but add to productivity and output in their own subtle and significant ways.

All companies don’t have the mind-boggling money like Google or Apple have to invest in corporate parks. But clever design is often more about thinking what’s best for employees and less about money. And even if you have to spend, don’t let a one-time investment deprive your hardworking employees of access to great workspaces.

The office is where employees spend the most productive years of their life. And a nice office draws them to leave home every morning looking forward to another nice day. Not just another table and chair but an innovatively-designed space that compels workers to give better than their best and in turn translates into a great hike at the end of the year and great P&L reading for the company!

That’s not a stretch. But that’s what workplaces can do — encourage employees to set new performance benchmarks so the companies they toil for stay ahead of the curve and competition. For example, a report found that employees with optimized daylight exposure experienced a 2 per cent increase in productivity. To break it down to hard data, that’s equivalent to an additional $100,000 per year for every 100 workers. Another research by Cornell University points to increased employee alertness with access to natural light. Workers in offices with smart glass reported a 56 per cent decrease in drowsiness.

Its time to wake up to invest in and design workspaces that translate into productivity gains. Remember, all tech tools do the same for productivity, so why ignore physical spaces. Great offices are designed keeping in mind various things, including the time it takes for employees to complete a task.

If collaboration is the key for an office, it must be suitably reflected in the spaces created for meetings and the proximity of different teams. Here walking long distance — by separate teams on different floors or buildings — might help clock nice number of steps on Fitbit but waste considerable productive time in commuting. A smarter way out is to have a treadmill as accessible as teams — in the vicinity of each other — so fitness conscious workers don’t miss out on fat burning programs in between quick meals, work and breaks.

Any design must keep work in mind — do you need spaces for informal meetings or moon like tranquillity for the team working on that secret project.

Companies like Google, Apple, Netflix, Uber are able to improve productivity per employee more than most others because of the emphasis they put on workspaces. Legendary innovator Steve Jobs paid more attention to the design of not only the Apple devices but also the workplace. For example, Jobs was famous for redesigning Pixar’s office with collaboration in mind. Rather than separating animators, executives and editors in different buildings, he brought everyone under the same roof – with the hope that chance encounters would lead to ideas sprouting.

One can argue that the Internet and various technologies allow for enough collaboration and ideas exchange so why bother about physical office spaces. That’s like missing the woods for the trees. Creativity can’t happen without the right physical proximity, which in the digital world is as important as the right Internet and mobile tools.

Design-focused offices put a lot of emphasis on even location of bathrooms — there must be enough room for running into colleagues for that informal two minutes around the washroom rather than a hurriedly done place just to complete the task and back to bury your head into the laptop. Think about making the bathroom or the coffee machine also a great place for an informal chat.

Often it is not just a consistent design but also customized to worker needs — a coder who probably spends the most time in front of a computer might need peaceful private spaces compared to the sales guy who wants to catch up with colleagues on sales reports and market trends will find it comfortable to be in open spaces.

Much of the working life is spent indoors and design of that indoor space is vital to not only employee health but productivity. A well planned and well-designed workspace will not only help attract best minds but also motivate them to out-perform their own benchmarks frequently.

Companies spend plenty of manhours to build smart and connected offices with top end tech gear. It’s as important to take care of climate control, lights, office flow, workspaces, desks, corridors and every other nook and corner.

Make sure your office is not another 9-to-5 place where employees are just going through the motions without effort to improve productivity. The secret of it all is to bring the right people together in the right workplace. Unlock the secret!

Smartworks forays into Hyderabad, plans to raise funds to fuel growth

With the latest development, Smartworks is claiming to be “largest managed workspace provider” in the country, with over a million sq ft space and 16,000 seats, spread over nine Indian cities.

Sushant Lok

Co-working space Smartworks, has now introduced a new facility in Hyderabad, the company announced on Wednesday. With the latest development, Smartworks is claiming to be “largest managed workspace provider” in the country, with over a million sq ft space and 16,000 seats, spread over nine Indian cities. The Hyderabad facility is spread across 86,000 sq. ft and has a capacity of 1700 seats.

“We are focused on enterprises, as against being purely co-working space providers and 72 per cent of our total seats today are with enterprises that have need for seats in excess of 100,” Smartworks founders Neetish Sarda and Harsh Binani told Business Today.

“These are MNCs or fast-growing mid-size to large-size companies spread across several locations. About 18 per cent are SMEs (any entity less than 30 employees and without a multicity presence) and 8-10 per cent are start-ups,” they informed.

Founded in April 2016, Smartworks is already present in Delhi, Gurugram, Noida, Kolkata, Bangalore, Mumbai, Pune and Chennai, and counts Tata Communications, Microsoft, Arcelor Mittal, Amazon, Carrier, Otis, Daikin, Lenovo, Bacardi, and OLX as its clients.

Talking about the company’s goals going forward, Binani said, “We are bullish on not only growing our footprint but also about growing our overall office experience component, including all the elements that make employees productive, be it health and wellness, creche facility or employee concierge service. So major growth drivers for us beyond the footprint will be value-added services.”

Most of their centres are already customised according to each client’s requirement and have gym, creche, medical room and a health and wellness programme.

The company has so far invested over $20 million (Over Rs 120 crore) for the over 1 million sq ft, Binani informed, and in next 12-16 months plans to get 2-2.5 million sq ft, which will also require a significant investment.

“So far, we are completely self-funded but looking at the growth over the next couple of years, will be raising external funding,” says Sarda.

Though the latest facility has been priced at an average Rs 8,000 per seat per month but overall, the company’s average price ranges between Rs 8,000-20,000 per seat per month.

India’s informal gig economy turns mainstream

Ever since he graduated with a bachelor’s degree in computer science from Bengaluru’s Global Academy of Technology in 2012, Sidharth Bhansali has had a successful career in blogging about consumer electronic products. The advertising revenue that he generates from his multiple blog sites is more than sufficient for him to afford a dedicated work desk for ₹17,500 a month at WeWork Galaxy on Residency Road, Bengaluru, the shared office space of New York-headquartered startup WeWork.

“I waited for three years for WeWork to open,” says the 27-year-old, who had been working from home before moving into the WeWork facility. He was among the first freelance professionals to register at WeWork Galaxy when it opened in July 2017.

Like Bhansali, a growing workforce of independent professionals and short-term contract workers, both millennials and otherwise, is driving the gig economy from shared workspaces.

“A lot of people from the corporate world, who are above the age of 40 and find their work becoming stagnant, are looking at freelancing as well,” says Rishi Das, co-founder of CareerNet Consulting, a talent acquisition company.

Consider 50-year-old Ajay Ushakanth. After having successfully run a baby retail store in Bengaluru, he shut shop in 2014 and started teaching the Vedas. Ushakanth worked out of a friend’s office for two years before moving into WeWork Galaxy, where he pays ₹20,000 a month for a dedicated workspace. A host of independent entrepreneurs, including Bhansali, across WeWork’s facilities in Bengaluru, have taken up learning the Vedas from Ushakanth.

“Freelancers are the beneficiaries of co-working spaces because they find their customers and clients within these spaces,” says Sidharth Menda, CEO of Bengaluru-based CoWrks, which has 1.1 million square feet of operational co-working spaces across Bengaluru, Chennai, New Delhi and Mumbai.

Menda says about 50 per cent of his members are large enterprises, while SMEs and startups account for 30 per cent and the remaining 20 per cent is freelancers—a split that’s the same across most co-working facilities in India.

The share of freelancers is higher in the US, where the gig workforce, comprising independent contractors, temporary and contract staffers and on-call workers, accounted for about 10 per cent of the overall workforce in 2017, according to data released by the US Department of Labor. One reason for the higher share of a gig workforce in the US is “if you are a freelancer, you get more benefits and the taxation is lower,” says Das. Even though this is not yet the case in India, there is a growing demand for freelancers and short-term contract workers.

Last year, Das held a closed-door roundtable meet with the HR heads of Infosys, Wipro, GE, Mindtree and the like. “One of them clearly said a good part of their workforce is freelancers. Clearly, companies, specifically large enterprises, are looking at this kind of a workforce,” says Das, who is also the chairman and co-founder of the co-working space provider Indique.

Companies like Aricent (a design and engineering company), Incedo (IT services), Microsoft, ArcelorMittal and OLX have taken up co-working space at Smartworks for their short-term contract employees. “Aricent has taken up 400 seats with us at our Bengaluru facility,” says Neetish Sarda, founder of Smartworks, a New Delhi-based co-working firm. “Their space is fixed, but their workforce keeps changing every six to seven months,” he adds.

The demand for freelance work, says Das, is for specialised talent in the field of robotics, artificial intelligence, UI and UX design, and digital marketing. There is also a growing freelance workforce of architects, lawyers and chartered accountants. “If we look at startups, the share of work being done by freelancers is very high because most of them want to keep their teams lean and want to be agile. Some even employ part-time CFOs,” says Das. A lot of travel companies in India, he adds, are hiring a temporary workforce, largely consisting women who work out of their homes during the peak travel months, which mirrors what happens in the US during the Christmas sale season.

While there isn’t any official data on the size of the gig economy in India, signs of it becoming mainstream among the blue- and white-collar workforce are visible. At the blue-collar level, you have delivery executives of commerce-driven entities like Flipkart, Amazon India, Zomato and Swiggy, as well as the driver-partners of ride-sharing companies Uber and Ola. “People who are in finance, human resources and legal functions are realising that growth in the corporate world is becoming stagnant. And we are seeing these people taking up freelancing work,” says Das.

The mainstreaming over the last few years could also be attributed to the change in people’s mindsets as, in India, jobs are coupled with social status. “As a result, people have not been very excited about freelancing,” says Das. But the whole startup culture has changed people’s attitude towards work— from taking up a safe job to betting one’s career on a fledgeling venture that could go bust in under a year.

But, unlike in the West, the gig economy in India is not what’s keeping co-working spaces afloat. Juggy Marwaha, executive managing director of property consultancy firm JLL India, who had set up WeWork’s operations in India, says, “You can’t just depend on the freelancing entrepreneurs and startups to survive in this business.”

Wework Galaxy, the Coworking space in Bengaluru. July 2018. Photograph by Nishant Ratnakar

In 2015, the doctor-turned-entrepreneur Ritesh Malik set up a co-working facility, Innov8, in Connaught Place, New Delhi. It was a 150-seater space for startups and freelancers. “We soon realised that if you want to create a very profitable business [out of co-working], you need to have predictable long-term revenue and that does not come from startups and freelancers,” says Malik. As Innov8 expanded to Mumbai, Bengaluru and Chandigarh, Malik pivoted his business model whereby 80 per cent of the business would come from enterprise clients or those with “very predictable revenue” and 20 per cent from startups and freelancers. However, Malik believes this number will increase to 35 per cent five years down the line.

While startups will definitely be the growth driver of the gig economy, the demand for white-collar workers, on a temporary and contract basis, by corporates is on the rise in India. “A lot of companies [especially IT and ITeS] are open to the idea of having temporary staff working for four hours at distributed centres [co-working facilities],” says Das. And, as the gig economy evolves in India, Das and other co-working space founders see scope for specialised spaces.

Take the human resource industry as an example. Das is planning to step up hiring centres, which would be manned by freelancers, across the country that would be used by multiple companies. “It would be like how a passport office is run—you walk in with your CV and if you are selected you walk out with an offer letter,” says Das. Three of the top 10 IT companies in India, he adds, have asked him to set up 50 hiring centres across the country.

Sarda of Smartworks is looking at dedicated co-working spaces for lawyers and accountants. “Instead of having a big games room and gym, which is at most of our centres, we will have a big library, more meeting rooms, and offer services like stenographers on-call,” he says. These would be smaller 10,000 to 12,000 square feet co-working spaces that would house around 100 people as opposed to a typical Smartworks co-working office, which is about 80,000 square feet in size and can seat about 900 people. “There are people trying to do specialised co-working spaces for blockchain and fin tech. While there are significant benefits of doing so, what you lose out on is the breadth—the exposure to people from multiple industries [under one roof],” says Menda of CoWrks.

It’s a thought that app-developer Goutham Iyyappan concurs with. “How often would you meet a person like Ushakanth or Bhansali?” asks Iyyappan, 28, who works out of WeWork Galaxy, in Bengaluru. It’s been a year since his company vClusive, part of California-based vMobo, moved in at WeWork. “I’m an app developer and so my work circle are all developers and testers. But when you come to a place like this [WeWork] there is so much diversity,” says Iyyappan, who along with Bhansali attends Ushakanth’s Veda classes.

Smartworks pumps $20 mn in 18 co-working centres

Co-working operator Smartworks has invested USD 20 million in the last two-and-half years on setting up 18 facilities, of which 3 are underway, to tap into the rising demand for shared office space, a top company official said.

The company has become profitable with its revenue rising 15 per cent month-on-month, Smartworks founder Neetish Sarda said.

Founded in April 2016, Smartworks has opened 15 facilities across nine cities covering 16,000 seating capacity and 1.1 million sq ft of area.

“We have opened our second centre at Chennai comprising 1,500 seats, taking the total number of centres to 15,” Sarda said.

Besides Chennai, the company has 3 centres in Pune, two each in Mumbai, Gurgaon and Bengaluru. In Delhi, Noida, Hyderabad and Kolkatta, it has one centre each.

Smartworks will soon open three centres in Chennai, Bengaluru and Gurgaon, said co-founder Harsh Binani.

The company sub-leases the space to clients who give long-term commitment and absorbs large space, he added.

Smartworks has brought on board several big clients, including Tata Communications, Microsoft, Arcelor Mittal, Amazon, Carrier, Otis, Daikin, Lenovo, Bacardi, Swiggy, Rivigo and OLX.

Asked about the revenue, Sarda said it is growing 15 per cent month-on-month but declined to share the details.

The revenue jumped five times during 2017-18.

Binani said the promoters have infused USD 20 million since inception and the same has been utilised on 15 centres that are operational and three in the pipeline.

Smartworks is reinventing enterprise workspaces to boost employee productivity and to become the preferred workspace for India’s vibrant millennials, he added.

Smartworks looking to raise $30 million to open more co-working facilities

Co-working operator Smartworks plans to raise around USD 20-30 million to expand its business three times in the next two years to 60,000 seats, and tap the rising demand of shared office space, a top company official said.

Founded in April 2016, Smartworks has 15 operational facilities across nine cities covering 16,000 seating capacity. It will soon add three more centres, taking the total number of centres to 18 with a capacity of 20,000 seats.

“We have invested USD 20 million in the business to scale it up in the last two years to be among the largest players in the coworking space. Our rapidly expanding footprint is now at 15 operational centres covering 1.2 million plus sq ft. We are excited to seek the right funding partner to scale up the business to the next level,” Smartworks founder Neetish Sarda told PTI.

He said the company has chalked out plans to reach 40 centres by September 2020, comprising 60,000 seats spread over 3 million sq ft area.

“For our expansion plan and next phase of growth, we are looking to raise between USD 20 million and USD 30 million,” Sarda said.

The company was in talks with some investors to raise funds, he said, adding that the deal would be closed soon.

Smartworks has three centres in Pune, two each in Mumbai, Gurugram, Chennai and Bengaluru. In Delhi, Noida, Hyderabad and Kolkata, it has one centre each. It would soon open three centres in Chennai, Bengaluru and Gurugram.

Harsh Binani, the co-founder, said the company has become profitable with its revenue rising 15 per cent month-on-month. The revenue jumped five times during 2017-18.

Smartworks has brought on board several big clients, including Tata Communications, Microsoft, Arcelor Mittal, Amazon, Carrier, Otis, Daikin, Lenovo, Bacardi, Swiggy, Rivigo and OLX.

Smartworks is reinventing enterprise workspaces to boost employee productivity and to become the preferred workspace for India’s vibrant millennials, Binani said.

The demand for co-working space is rising in India due to affordable rents and flexible working options.

“The use of co-working spaces is expected to rise, with the concept being adopted not only by start-ups and individuals but also by well-established corporates with fluid expansion/occupation plans. This is expected to push up the share of co-working spaces in overall space leasing,” said property consultant CBRE in its report recently.

Co-working Offers an Upgrade for Both Work and Life

Working professionals spend a considerable part of their daily lives in offices. And in a connected world company expect employees to respond in real time even when they are an outside office. No wonder a nine-hour job is a thing of the past. Even as employees are toiling more they are getting more conscious about health and the environment. The problems could be compounded by the stress of long working hours and after hours spent on office work.

To cope with the blurring boundaries between work and life, employees look for jobs that offer a perfect balance between the two. As India’s economy picks pace with new investments on the uptick, companies want the best talent. They compete for that scarce talent with global peers. As much as employers would like employees to start delivering much like plug and play devices they offer, companies have realized that humans are not robots and need the right conditions for optimum performance.

That’s where co-working spaces make for a compelling option for the digital, AI, ML (Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning respectively), algorithm era workers. It works as a nice fit as companies don’t have time to spend their energies on thinking about the ideal workspace. Even as they look for top-notch specialists to deliver they can leave the innovation around workspaces to experts.

Coworking spaces defining optimum levels of work & life

The idea of co-working space is not just to ensure that the burden of real estate is being taken care of by a third party with flexibility to expand or reduce workstations as per needs, but encompasses much more.

Co-working providers employ psychologists and office design specialists armed with adequate knowhow as to what’s best suited for marketing, coding, research, finance and other such roles across multiple industries — be it e-commerce, digital technologies, IT services, telecom, manufacturing and so on.

This know-how goes a long way in ensuring that knowledge workers are in an environment that alleviates stress, reduces burnouts and promotes healthy retention. Besides acting as a hook to attract the right talent.

Shared spaces are designed in a way that accounts for multiple things. For instance, the importance of natural light to worker productivity and health; right ergonomics; best use of space and ample consideration to employee needs — like gym, breakrooms, gaming areas and so on. The latest we have added is the crèche facility for 2 months to 3 years child with nourishing food. In a survey, we found that the employees indeed were delighted with this and have voted maximum for this facility. This will ensure that Fitbits, health apps on smartphones and other health monitoring devices that millennials prefer to use are also put to good use while at work.

Co-working offices take care of all aspects of human life

Access to the gym at work helps take away the stress of looking for a membership for today’s health-conscious employees. While the right amount of natural light is known to decrease headaches and stimulate the mind. An office designed in such a way that workstations — where most of the time will be spent are closer to windows. Clever use of open spaces and corridors with the right kinds of indoor plants, easy access to shared facilities like printers and coffee vending machines and ensuring Wi-Fi signal is available across the floor ensures that employees don’t grapple with mundane challenges.

Such spaces are created keeping in mind the need for the ideal working conditions and hence are designed to reduce stress, support the physical and mental welfare of employees and encourage healthy habits. Pressures of today’s jobs where competition is high and employees are expected to respond in real time to any issue calls for innovative space management with a deep understanding of human behaviour. This is where co-working scores as they bring the knowledge of having created multiple such environments and understanding the unique needs of different sectors and jobs.

According to Global Co-working Unconference Conference (GCUC), the number of co-working members will grow globally from 1.74 million in 2017 to 5.1 million by 2022. In recent years the Asia Pacific including India has seen significant demand in co-working space (a trend that started in the US and Europe initially) and this continues to increase.

It’s like giving an upgrade to both work and life. According to a recent survey, over 71% of co-workers said they are more relaxed at home after joining a co-working space, they get to socialize and talk about work with people from multiple companies during the day without missing out on the essentials like a salubrious environment, time & place to work-out, reduced stress and improved outcomes. No wonder many workers feel they are healthier and have better personal lives.

Happier employees tend to be more open to responding to alerts from office even outside working hours — be it answering emails, messages or responding to an emergency while away from work. The motivation for this comes easily if companies are careful in assessing and providing for their work and life needs. It may not find mention in the P&L (profit & loss) statement, but a key factor working behind the scenes to ensure that the statement looks great quarter-after-quarter.