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Times Square concludes lease deal with Smartworks in Mumbai

Times Square, a Landmark office complex in the Business Hub of Andheri East, has entered into a massive association with India’s leading provider of agile workspaces – Smartworks.

Smartworks has acquired a large leasable area of 2,10,000 sq. ft., entire Tower C, in Times Square.

Dhaval Ajmera, Director of Nilkanth Tech Park Construction Pvt Ltd states, “We remain optimistic with regards to India’s long-term growth story in the commercial real estate space. The very fact that we concluded this deal in pandemic times is proof of a promising future.”

An icon of the new and emerging genre of business parks in the city, Times Square by Nilkanth Tech Park Construction Pvt. Ltd., is the architectural brainchild of some of the most renowned names in the industry, like Hafeez Contractor. Spread across approx. 6.5 acres of land, this marvel is a Gold-rated LEED-certified Private IT Park with features that uphold a new dimension of corporate growth. The presence of many Corporates and Multi-National Companies has made Times Square the most sought Office destination. Many corporate giants are even consolidating their many offices into Times Square.

Smartworks caters to enterprises and high-growth startups by offering inspiring collaborative and completely hassle-free managed office spaces. It is India’s only workspace provider to become profitable within an incredibly short span of 3 years and made it into the Top 25 in Linkedin’s list of Top Startups to work for in 2019.

Commenting on this deal, Mr. Neetish Sarda, the founder of Smartworks said “Our expansion, despite the global pandemic, is a testament to our robust business model. We remain optimistic about the flex spaces long-term growth. This new addition to our portfolio will help us meet the demand from the enterprises in the region.”

Additionally, Mr. Neetish Sarda has also featured in “The Economic Times Promising Entrepreneurs of India 2019”.

As the two corporate giants – Times Square and Smartworks join hands as long-term associates, hope this fabulous deal becomes the first of many fruitful exchanges to come in the future.

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Social Distancing measures at Smartworks

Sharing some workplace readiness measures that have been implemented at Smartworks (Co-
working). Social distancing means keeping space between yourself and other people outside of your home.Keeping space between you and others is the best way to prevent being exposed to the COVID-19 virus. Limiting close contact with individuals can help curb the spread. Smartworks
has started working on redesigning the office workplaces to ensure that the right social distancing is maintained across all its offices. Workplace wellness will play a crucial role as companies will be cautious to safeguard and protect their most valuable assets- their people. The company is taking all proactive measures to adhere to the social distancing norms, hygiene
practices, screening, and other measures for the health and wellness of all. Social distancing will become a norm and all businesses/ workplaces must practice it to reduce close contact and spread of COVID-19.

Workplace Readiness Measures at Smartworks

  • Stepped up routine cleaning and disinfecting equipment, all surfaces (metal, knobs, workstations) and floors
  • Temperature checks using an Infrared thermometer for all the entry points of the facilities.
  • Placement of Sanitizer stations at all high touchpoints.Emphasis on hand wash/sanitization while entering office spaces
  • Making masks available at all centres and mandatory in all common areas.
  • Disinfecting/ sanitizing all packages/deliveries upon receiving.
  • Awareness Posters, videos, TV Screens and Digital Signage on

1) Mask usage and proper disposal
2) Personal and respiratory hygiene
3) Social and physical distancing while sitting, working, talking
4) Stay home if any cold, cough, fever or related symptoms
5) Don’t share dishes and drinks

Social Distancing Measures:

Maintain a distance of at least 2 metres between colleagues while sitting, talking, eating and walking

  • Cafeteria & Pantry time rationing through rosters/meals and breaks at staggered intervals. Disinfection at regular intervals. No meal sharing
  • Suspension of biometrics systems
  • Leveraging Video conferencing when possible, and evaluate essential visitors on the premises.
  • Meeting room attendees and passengers in elevators to be limited.
  • All physical events turned into Virtual sessions
  • Gyms, Sports Arena, Recreational Rooms, Amphitheatre temporarily closed.
  • On ground medical assistance along with a designated isolation area
  • All large gathering/ groups prohibited
  • Encouraging members to voluntarily disclose recent travel/health-related information

Click here to know more:

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Founder Neetish Sarda

There’s a silver lining for co-working spaces in the dark Covid-19 cloud

COVID-19 resulted in the world’s biggest lockdown, to try and contain the outbreak. Economies went into a standstill. Bellwether companies are withholding full-year revenue forecast, suggesting an uncertain business climate. Millions are losing their jobs — all these sound like the perfect recipe for disaster in an economy driven by services. Yet, one segment within India’s vast services sector is hopeful and optimistic.

Co-working operators are betting on a resurgence in demand for co-working spaces as the economy emerges out of one of the strictest stay-at-home measures anywhere in the world. The sector sees demand for flexible workspaces rising as companies embrace social distancing as part of their work culture. That may see them adopting measures to maintain social/physical distancing among employees, with desks expected to be set apart by around 80-100 sq. ft. going forward from about 50-60 sq. ft. earmarked currently — the result: corporates leasing more office spaces.

Big IT giants are allowing some of the staff to work from home even after the economy is unlocked. Others may be open to exploring the ‘Work Near Home’ policy, while many companies may consider leasing smaller spaces at different locations instead of absorbing large areas. These trends will immensely benefit the co-working segment as it is in the best position to cater to such flexible demands.

Although co-working operators have for now-abandoned plans to aggressively expand their presence in major cities and penetrate smaller tier-II and tier-III cities, things may turn a corner.

The overall office space demand remained muted during April-May, as corporates deferred their decision to set up new offices or expand. Property consultants have estimated that net leasing of office space across seven major cities could drop anywhere between 30 million sq. ft. and 40 million sq. ft. this calendar year from nearly 50 million sq ft in 2019. The pandemic also put a brake on the co-working segment’s growth, with many facing a crunch in meeting rental commitments, while many clients seek full or part waivers and deferment of rents.

Still, incoming data suggests a pick up even if it’s not a quick turnaround. Key aspects that will favor this segment post-COVID-19 apart from the top-class facility management is the de-densification and demand from enterprises for multiple office spaces instead of one. The non-negotiable preventive measures will take center stage. The level of hygiene and other safety measures adopted in the co-working centres will help attract businesses. The industry believes members are likely to return to them once the pandemic passes. More importantly, people that weren’t previously exposed to co-working before the pandemic will likely turn to it as a permanent solution to support new working models and corporate policies.

There are already 1,000 operational co-working centres, with over 400,000 seats, across the top six cities – Delhi-NCR, Bengaluru, Mumbai, Pune, Hyderabad, and Chennai. The number of flexible space operators has risen from single digits to about 350 over the last 3-4 years.

The co-working segment will ride out this crisis, for the work will continue, and people will need to have their water-cooler conversations back at the office!

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Smartworks has been featured on the Top MBA Startups Of 2020

Smartworks launches revamped mobile app

Smartworks, a workspace provider for large enterprises, on Wednesday launched its ‘all-new’ revamped mobile App for contactless business processes and service requests. The revamped App comes with an upgraded and intuitive interface that integrates all Smartworks facility operations, communication, and collaboration into the mobile ecosystem, accordingtoa release. The App aims to meet the needs of today’s workforce and is in line with Smartworks vision of creating the workspaces of the future.

Technology has been Smartworks’ focus area since its inception. The coworking space provider had earlier deploy a humanoid, Mitri, for handling office management for the facility, and the visitor management system. From contactless digital entry with mandatory self-declaration to IoT enabled meeting room booking with an inbuilt feature to control the amenities, digital pantry solutions, contactless Visitor Management System, Parking management system, Smart service and feedback platform, to e-Concierge services, Smartworks technology-enabled workspace is designed at easing the workflows during these times the release added.

The App will reduce the dependency on the workforce and enable members to go contactless during the COVID-19 pandemic, keeping them literally ‘hands-off’ for support. As more and more people are returning to workspaces, focus on their health and safety will be more critical than ever. The App will ensure physical distancing and cater to the daily requirements with the click of a button. Replacing the frequent touchpoints such as meeting room booking and feedback tablets, light switches and TV screens inside a conference room with touch-free options, is the need of the hour to curb the spread inside the premises and keep everyone safe.

Commenting on the revamped app, Neetish Sarda, founder, Smartworks said, “Technology will be a key enabler for a contactless world and remote collaboration. Our revamped App is a key step in creating a futuristic workplace and promises to deliver an enhanced in-office experience, enterprise-grade capabilities with easy-to-use features. The future workspaces will be a network of connected workplace strategies, tools & technologies, and with the ever-evolving expectations, delivering an Omni-channel customer experience has become imperative for us.”

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Keppel Land Invest $25 million

Co-Working Spaces Are Going Increasing Digital, Banking On IoT

Co-working spaces have been redefining the concept of traditional working, and they have been inculcating various forms of technology to bring in a massive amount of disruption in the space. Artificial Intelligence (AI), Machine Learning (ML) and Internet of Things (IoT) have been fuelling this disruption.

Neetish Sarda, Founder, Smartworks explains why technology is the need of the hour.

At a time when everyone is working remotely, how is your coworking space adapting to it?

As businesses adapt to a more flexible work paradigm, we foresee increased demand for coworking spaces as the occupiers are likely to continue with flexible workspace providers as compared to the traditional workspace. We believe the physical constraints and mandated social distancing norms will make coworking spaces the first choice for many organisations since work from home comes with its challenges.

The clients now want to shift to more segregated workspaces than take up one big office space at a location to ensure continuity of operations.

Our presence across 9 Metro cities with more than 4 Mn sq.ft area provides us with an opportunity to cater to enterprise demands, which are now looking at “de-densify” their offices—both to help their employees and restart business recovery or continuity plans.

As opposed to 20000 sq.ft sq ft office space, Smartworks leases approx 3,00,000 sq. ft office spaces. We are working closely with our clients to ensure that they experience a hassle-free work routine at their workspaces.

How is Smartworks adapting to the technical advances being an agile firm?

Smartworks have been investing in technology since inception and are always looking for innovative ways to drive efficiency for our client members. COVID-19 has accelerated the digitalization of workspaces. To avoid the transmission of germs at workspaces, we have enabled contactless technology that is proving to be a greater interest for our clients. Our innovative technology ecosystem provides flexible and on-demand places to support convenience, functionality, and well-being.

What kind of technology are you implementing?

This pandemic has made the contactless tech necessity for workspace providers, which was early seen to be a good option. We have been investing in technology for a long time now. Whether it is our facial recognition system at the entrance or the fully loaded mobile app, Smartworks is ensuring members have a hassle-free experience even during these difficult times. Members can book our IoT-enabled Meeting rooms through the Smartworks app and also control the amenities inside such as light, TV & power through the in-built feature- no physical touch required.

Smartworks has the following technology interventions for day to day routine without any physical touch, all inbuilt into a mobile app –

  • Ordering food or beverages from a conference room
  • Raising a request for support,
  • Raising a request for support,
  • Humanoid for a contactless Visitor Management system,
  • E-Concierge services

From mobile-based touch-less building access to health self-declaration forms, facility fumigation and deep cleaning updates, and all-important announcements /notifications, Smartworks is focusing on creating a tech-enabled environment for smooth office experience.

Has there been any faltering so far?

The outbreak has impacted every industry globally and brought with itself a great deal of uncertainty and slowdown. As a market leader in the space, we continue remaining bullish on the industry and will continue our expansion once things improve.

We have seen an almost 50-60 percent jump in the number of inquiries in the last few weeks though the deal conversions will take a longer time than usual. We have been working closely with our clients and keeping them abreast of all developments at our centres through regular communication and webinars.

Do you have any particular strategy in place to battle the pandemic?

The priority for every business currently is a safe return to the workplace to continue operations. We have been working closely with our partners and global investors to learn from the best practices followed across the globe.

To ensure business continuity, we have implemented a lot of non-negotiable measures for the health and safety of all.

  • Thermal temperature screening at all entry points,
  • Frequent and enhanced sanitization of office spaces,
  • Markups inside the facility for social distancing,
  • Staggered lunch and break timings to avoid large gatherings at a time,
  • Display of Awareness communication,
  • Vehicle sanitization upon arrival,
  • Maintaining indoor air quality and
  • Ensuring availability of masks and sanitizers to provide the highest standard of hygiene and protection at the workplace

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stylish co-working spaces

Smartworks – Creating Stylish Co-working Spaces for Enterprises!

The office space format has come a long way since it was regarded solely as a place of work at a convenient location, with plain desks, chairs, and cabins comprising the overall set up. Over the past few years, we have seen the workplace evolve significantly in terms of space utilization, design, architecture, and tech innovation. Co-working spaces are no longer limited to only budget tight startups and freelancers. In the present time, it has become an attractive choice for many mid to large-sized enterprises. Prominent MNCs are now working out of co-working spaces and opting for co-working spaces for their expansion in different cities. Taking this concept to a new level, Neetish Sarda & Harsh Binani launched Smartworks in 2016.

The aim at Smartworks is to provide a completely managed and configured office spaces with world-class facilities and a collaborative community environment. The core of the business strategy is better employee engagement, employee happiness, and wellness in the workplace. Smartworks has worked on driving collaboration while establishing ways to increase productivity and this enthusiasm has been the driving factor that sets it apart. It’s a unique capability that stems from absorbing global best practices, coupled with hands-on real estate experience forms the foundation of its management strategy.

Smartworks – About and How it works

The market for co-working space is on a growth trajectory in India with many players entering the sector as there is immense potential. Smartworks, in this space, differ from other companies as the focus is on flexible, managed and configured workspaces targeting enterprises with longer tenures. Smartworks creates a way of life that goes beyond being ‘just an office space’ with a laser focus on employee happiness and productivity across our facilities in the country.

It offers tailor-made offices and combines top-notch real-estate design, technology, and hospitality to create vibrant communities in the workplace.

With their rich experience and knowledge of real estate, the team can offer a readily configured workspace to clients within four to five weeks as compared to the traditional workspace providers who take nine to ten months to deliver the same.

Smartworks, as a venture, have a holistic approach to keeping members engaged and productive. Various services and events are ranging from its in-house F&B services, hobby clubs, corporate grooming sessions, yoga classes to live bands.

As a part of the Smartweekenday campaign focused on member happiness, Smartworks organizes regular events ranging from fitness, ‘shared-knowledge opportunities, food trails, skill-building workshops, leadership series, music, and dance therapy, bringing pets to work, to learning new courses and languages.

Tech-enabled environment

Smartworks App- It has an in-house smartphone application that facilitates collaboration & networking to increase work efficiency across centers. The app also reduces downtime as it offers real-time tech support and ensures issues are resolved as soon as possible.

Visitor Management System – Installation of the Visitor Management System ensures effective processing and tracking of your guests. Accuracy and security are well taken care of through digital registration and identification.

IoT based Meeting Room Bookings – Smartworks has an indigenously developed a meeting room solution that rides on the new age tech-IoT to efficiently manage meeting room bookings, generate utilization analytics, insights and can be white-labeled as per the customer needs.

Smartworks – Target Market Size

The growth of the co-working market is gaining momentum at a rapid pace. The reasons behind this growth are manifold, the foremost being the reduced cost of working out of co-working spaces instead of leasing entire buildings. The market size of co-working spaces across the country is expected to be 13.5 million users by 2020, entailing half of its contribution from enterprises that are expected to take up 10.3 million seats. Most of the industry players entering the picture instill India as a flexible space market across the Asia Pacific region.

Over the years of Smartwork’s operation, the team has analyzed the demand patterns and identified large enterprise segments to be ripe for the growth of co-working spaces. Smartworks has leveraged this opportunity and worked towards providing an unmatched office experience to large corporations and big MNCs including Fortune 500 companies.

The market demand is driven by agility, affordability, community collaboration and increased focus of established corporations by varied needs and Smartworks has been a pioneer in delivering these crucial aspects.

Smartworks have the potential to cater to 97% of the office market demand in the country, and today this customer segment forms more than 90% of its clientele. It has grown threefold since our inception in 2016 –both in numbers and revenue.

Smartworks – Founders and Team

The founders of Smartworks are Neetish Sarda & Harsh Binani. In April 2016, Smartworks made its foray into the Indian market with its differentiated offering of ‘managed office spaces.’ To enhance Smartworks leadership further, the team onboard Harsh Binani, it’s Co-founder who comes with a strong background in strategy and operations from McKinsey& Co’s Chicago office.

At Smartworks, Harsh has envisioned the overall strategic roadmap for the company, driving product development, customer experience, technology, and marketing. He is passionate about building a healthy work culture not only for Smartworks but also for all our member companies. Analytical, straightforward, and focused, he ensures that Smartworks is on a fast growth track and delivers value to all our clients.

Both Harsh and Neetish, are determined to make “Smartworks” the largest network of new age, managed office spaces in the country indexing on customer experience, design, technology, and community.

Smartworks – How did it start?

“My journey with Smartworks has been full of new experiences and challenges. My exposure to futuristic workspaces of the likes of Google and Microsoft in the US and Singapore as a college student helped me realize the probability of similar workspace disruption in India, which can maximize overall employee engagement and productivity.” Said Neetish.

At that time, India was undergoing tremendous workspace transformations and moving away from the conventional office format. Upon thorough research, Neetish found out that the pace of transition to smarter workspaces in India was way behind as compared to the West, due to limited workspace design innovations and infrastructural flexibility. This is when he decided to create an unparalleled office experience for Indian office goers, which is both accessible and affordable. He wanted to create a vibrant workspace with employee engagement sessions, corporate grooming workshops and recreational spaces for the aspirational workforce of today.

Since then, there has been no looking back, Smartworks created a new market altogether by putting together the best elements of conventional office space and a co-working space. The company’s laser-sharp focus on large enterprises has emerged as the preferred choice for enterprises when it comes to managed office spaces. Smartworks is building vibrant workspaces with the vision to make office fun again. The positive work environment translates into a place of productivity, engendering extra energy and better output.

Currently, the 95% commercial real estate absorption is attributed to enterprises in India. Analyzing the market potential, Smartworks has positioned itself as an enterprise-focused service, and the central idea behind this is to capture the bigger market.

Smartworks – Name, Tagline, and Logo

The name ‘Smartworks’ has been derived from our firm belief that excellence is a product of working smartly day in and day out. It’s tagline, ‘Workspaces that work for you’, indicates how well its workspaces work for all the clients irrespective of their size, nature of business or demography. The motto was simple ‘Create office spaces where people ‘want’ to go, not just ‘have’ to go!”. It’s office spaces are a combination of beautifully designed infrastructure, state of the art technology integration and amenities that are available to the members.

Smartworks – Startup Launch

Initially, when Smartworks had just launched, the team’s focus was on startups and freelancers. But after much research, they figured out that enterprises make up for the maximum market, and therefore they changed their strategy. Today, more than 90% of Smartworks revenue comes from enterprise clients.

Here are the three-pronged strategies that have led to the performance and growth of Smartworks in all these years:

Bringing large enterprises in the purview of coworking spaces
The very first decision to shift our focus from startups to large enterprises is what defines the story of Smartworks. It was a difficult decision, though, but turned out to be a wise one when the team looks back now. Smartworks started to completely revolutionize the way offices function in India. And it became imperative to cater to large enterprises that have tremendous potential for this industry and can help Smartworks establish its name in the market. And in just over three years, the team has successfully established Smartworks as a preferred Managed space office provider in India for large enterprises.

Investing in large facilities with faster turnaround time
Enterprises typically face significant challenges around new office space acquisition at the right location and its development. Business requirements of enterprises are unique, precise, and they look for long term leases where the location is the key priority. Smartworks invest significant time and research on such profitable buildings and take them on lease for 9 to 10 years. By doing this, Smartworks takes away all such challenges from the enterprises and provides them with completely fitted out/configured space within 4-6 weeks, which compliments their brand ethos and requirement. It matches the preferences of its clients, which has made Smartworks, the first preference/choice for large enterprises.

Focus on design and environment for productivity
Gone are the days when an organization would choose workspaces only because of its cost-effectiveness. The infrastructure and the experiential environment in a workplace plays a crucial role in keeping employees engaged, empowered, and happy. Artistic touches in workplace design like flooring, wall arts, graffiti, comfortable seating options, bio-phallic architecture, gaming zone, vibrant cafes convey the personality of a coworking site than any larger investments made by the companies. Attention to design and architecture in workspaces gives a big boost in employee productivity. In line with that aim, all Smartworks offices today are state-of-art smart buildings, all tech, and services enabled. The vibrant, colorful, and environment-friendly workspace is designed to suit the needs of the workforce of today, with more open spaces and lesser cabins- this ensures more communication and collaboration.

Smartworks – Business Model and Revenue Model

Smartworks primarily functions on the lease model, where it takes large bare-shell spaces on a long-term lease from landlords. These spaces are then configured as per the client requirements the space for enterprises and other companies looking for an agile co-working space. Our minimum lease term is for three years, and on an average, a client takes about 280 seats, which is 10,000 sq. ft. area. So, we are into a large format play, unlike a regular co-working space. The idea is to move beyond providing space as a rigid commodity and offer workspace as a service based on varied requirements.

Smartworks – Startup Challenges

Initially, one of the hurdles that Smartworks faced was challenging the preconceived notions of MNCs and Indian enterprise giants, who were reluctant to leave their comfort zones and trust a coworking space with their operations.

The team then went on to focus on providing not just an office space, but a holistic office experience. Right from the infrastructure, technology, employee engagement activities, configured offices, we catered to every demand of our customers. At Smartworks, they believe in providing cutting-edge innovation and technology. This decision proved to be a game-changer for the venture because it could successfully add value to its client’s work life in terms of lending vibrancy, boosting productivity and ensuring employee happiness.

“Today, we feel proud of how we have revolutionized the whole office experience for our clients and have become India’s largest provider of agile workspaces with a growing footprint.” Added Neetish.

Smartworks – Funding and Investors

Smartworks has raised $25 million in Series-A funding from Singapore-based real estate giant Keppel Land, on a minority stake. With this strategic investment, the venture will be able to scale up even more rapidly across India’s Tier I cities where it has its presence and further invest in building up our next generation product, improving client experiences, as well as boosting our talent and technology.”

Smartworks – Growth

Smartworks is headquartered in Noida, India is the only homegrown agile workspace provider that has become profitable in India. It has presence across all top 9 metros cities in India with 29 centers in Delhi, Noida, Gurgaon, Mumbai, Bangalore, Pune, Chennai, Hyderabad and Kolkata with the total footprint of 3.8 Mn sq.ft. Smartworks today has its presence across 29 locations in 9 cities in India and has emerged as the market leader in Chennai and Pune on a consolidated basis with a growing footprint of 3.8 million sq.ft. at pan India level.

The team has consistently built high-quality workspaces dovetailed with impeccable hospitality, design, and technology. Moreover, their key focus areas remain designing, productivity and employee engagement programs to elevate member experience.

Smartworks’ presence and expansion in all these cities is a testament to its lucrative business model and our massive growth journey over the years. It has recently raised $25 Million from Singapore-based real estate giant, Keppel Land in series-A funding. Smartworks now aim to utilize this strategic funding to expand its footprint and to workstation counts across the cities where it already has a presence.

Smartworks – Awards and Recognition

The awards that Smartworks has won over the years are:

  • Coworking Leader of the Year 2020 (South) Award by Realty Plus, an Exchange4media group publication in Realty Plus Coworking Summit and Awards 2020.
  • Coworking Brand of the Year 2020 – Pune by Realty Plus, an Exchange4media group publication.
  • ET Most Promising Entrepreneur of India at The Economic Times Promising Entrepreneurs of India 2019 event held on March 29, 2019.

The recognitions under its name are:
Smartworks made it to Linkedin’s List of Top 25 Startup companies to work for in 2019.

Smartworks has also participated in the following conclaves as a keynote speaker:

  • ET Global Summit 2019.
  • ET GBS Summit 2020
  • 11th Edition of CII Realty & Infrastructure Conclave- Commercial Real Estate: Building a Sustainable Future.
  • APREA and NAREDCO’s Real Estate and Infrastructure Investors’ Summit- India – The renewed investment frontier
  • 10th Realty Conclave: Excellence Awards – West – Offices Parks Investor Strategy – Flexibility vs location

Smartworks – Future Plans

In the series of growth, it has recently leased out India’s largest coworking facility in Koregaon Park, Pune. It is a 5 Lakh sq.ft. facility and will be operational by 2021.

“As the entire co-working/ agile workspaces segment grows in India, we believe that constant innovation, customization, as well as customer happiness, will help distinguish Smartworks and its service offerings from other coworking firms in the country. Over the next 4-5 years, we aim to expand to 20 million sq. ft. and provide office solutions for over 200,000 working professionals.” Concluded Neetish.

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Neetish Sarda

How To Handle The Current COVID-19 Disruption?

Co-working space had disrupted the workplace culture, but what happens now when an unheard-of, unprecedented phenomenon disrupts our lives, one beautiful day?

Does thriving in times of crisis traditionally only mean facing roadblocks? No, but strange as it may sound, it also opens up opportunities. Today the COVID-19 has got India “locked and loaded”, even putting us under “house arrest” as newspaper headlines screamed. Yes, it has thrown all of us out of gear, into a state of uncertainty and stress.

We believe that if there’s anything you can do to lighten a disaster – the idea is to be prepared and, at the same time, be extremely careful. Finances will get impacted for sure. If done right, you can prevent a financial crisis from spiralling into a massive disaster, so that perhaps, you may only have to deal with temporary setbacks. As entrepreneurs, we all have struggled with uncertainties and should understand that it does not need to be a whole anxiety-ridden experience.

While we all can together help curb the spread by following measures as stated by the health and local authorities, but the business impact will only be known in the months to come. Here are a few things we can control as individuals.

Keep the ‘positive’ cap on

Spread the positive vibes. First and foremost, we need to protect the people we are involved with daily, like – full-time and part-time employees, consultants, clients, suppliers, and others. At a time like this, we need to safeguard their health and well-being in every possible way.

Of course, there are business priorities to be focused on too. We need to access and make quick decisions – to guide the business through this rough weather. Today, one of the most critical steps enforced now, with the government pitching in, is the practice of & social distancing,” basically to flatten the curve of the infection spreading. There are critical aspects to keep in mind, that may help us to tide over this crisis.

Manage finances

Study your finance status. It’s crucial to take stock of the situation. Start by clipping any frills and do not include any activity that is not a necessity. Check if the revenue has taken a hit. Is it declining? Analysing this is very important for a start-up, as its very existence depends on this balance.

Identify sources of additional capital, like bank loans, loans from investors, deferred payments to vendors, loans from significant partners – so that you can understand how quickly you need to start moving to ring in more cash.

Manage your expenses – the credits and debits. What is the cash flow situation? Now, it is time to gauge all business expenses. Categorize every spending and indicate if it is a one- time or recurring expense.

Set financial priorities

Since finance is the base of any business venture, it is time to understand your finances – your outer limits and ongoing profitability. Cash is the lifeblood of any business activity, and you need to fathom exactly how much you have. Take stock of your gross cash burn rate, that is, the number of operating costs you incur each month.

However, it may be wise to get a grip on the worst-case scenario, especially taking into consideration the sudden picture of revenue instability that is emerging for most businesses right now.

Look inwards and calculate how many months you can survive on your existing cash, after assessing your monthly expenses.

Leverage the technology at hand to connect with your stakeholders

Align with all your stakeholders, be it employees, partners, clients. With the ‘social distancing’ trend that has set in, it’s the technology that will help to connect and keep contact, in these days of work-from-home mode. So, have your technology in place. Act fast, and move to a digital platform, minimize the disruption caused by the COVID-19 outbreak.

During this time, taking care of the health of employees is of prime importance. Provide financial stability for employees when the question is coming up of whether your profit margins may take a beating. We are seeing some companies already stepping up on this. Promote the mental health of all stakeholders – clients, customers, and employees by reducing stress, providing relief from tension.

Take out time to acknowledge your financial stakeholders – investors, partners, co-founders, and so on. Check and ensure you are aligned on your objectives.

Develop a plan with a clear list of priorities and track progress

Despite the current scenario, plan for the future. Ensure your existing customers, internal and external, are happy. Discuss with them how you can help them navigate this difficult time; also, do not hesitate to share what measures you have planned – to get them into the loop. In this time, we have to be transparent, efficient, effective, responsive, agile, innovative, focused on our decision making as a buffet list of decisions is not going to help.

If community and goodwill are especially important to you, work on how your business can help the community around you. Step into social media and develop a pattern of storytelling – to explain how your business is continuing its efforts in serving the business community.

Most importantly, exercise your empathy!

Create a plan for when this is over. How will your industry have changed? What can do you to rebuild loyalty as the sector rebounds? Respect the turbulent time, learn from it, implement the best of the strategies or decisions. Ultimately re-imagine and build your ways to survive and rise above all odds.

Lastly, a positive note, happy times will be back soon!

Indeed, this an unimagined phase that is unprecedented in history. But remember, it will eventually pass. Think of this as an opportunity. This is the best time to reflect on repositioning your business not just to survive, but to thrive in this new world! And, then, the sky is the limit!

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Founder Neetish Sarda

It’s time to learn and embrace new things

“It is still early to assess the impact on the coworking industry. Decision making surely will take longer than usual while the inquiries continue to come. However, we remain bullish on the industry and will continue with our expansion plans once things settle down.

The safety and well-being of our employees is our priority. We are keeping our employees well informed and updated regarding the COVID-19 situation. Regular information is shared with them in the form of mailers, advisories & health guides. To keep up the morale of employees, we have planned Informal chit-chat sessions, online courses, and regular VCs to stay connected and together.

We continue to run the automated infrastructure, i.e., internet, technology services, for many of our clients and are also supporting companies that are providing critical/ essential services during this pandemic.

For decision-makers and business leaders, we have launched SmartEdge, a knowledge-sharing web-series specially curated with leading industry experts to help businesses navigate through difficult times, prepare, strategize for the future and stay ahead of the fast-changing trends. To keep members as well as employees, calm and positive, we are conducting a series of virtual sessions on fitness, mindfulness, and meditation.

With multiple workplace readiness measures being put in place, we are focusing on collaborative efforts not just to combat the current situation but also to facilitate a safe working environment after the lockdown period.”

By Neetish Sarda, Founder –Smartworks

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