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Opinion | Workplaces: Present remote, future distributed

In the post-covid world, tech-enabled offices will allow for minimal touch. While social distancing and wearing masks remain extremely important, several tech-enabled features will become critical drivers of employee safety.

NOIDA: It was not until the 20th century that offices became a mainstream phenomenon of the society. Over the years, the physical workspace has evolved, from cubicles to open floor plans, to became the centre of a company. But, in a post pandemic world, the work culture has been undergoing a dynamic shift.

The Work from Home (WFH) concept, which started over six months ago, has worked well in some places and dragged on in others. The lines between the professional and personal have blurred, as employees spend time working from home, meeting deadlines, and finishing household chores. No one knows where the office stops, and home begins.

As discussions continue, at the core of the matter is the employee – the same employee, who until six months ago used to leave home every morning for the workplace and returned home every evening carrying the stress of a long commute. This was an employee who looked forward to weekends.

The covid-19, however, has wiped out all such carefully crafted demarcations. The pandemic may be gone someday, but the concerns arising out of WFH options are here to stay.

Is a workplace just a physical space, a piece of real estate with infrastructure, or does it go beyond the realms of tech-integrated modern buildings? So what would the workplaces of the future encompass?

It’s a key question.

Office design is a valuable investment, and never before has there been this urgent a need to re-design workspaces. In the post-covid world, tech-enabled offices will allow for minimal touch. While social distancing and wearing masks remain extremely important, several tech-enabled features will become critical drivers of employee safety. Touchless will be the keyword. A tech-enabled workplace will offer wellness checks at entry points, facial recognition for workplace access/attendance, IoT-enabled meeting rooms and smartphone-controlled electric switches.

It’s well-argued how companies will take some time to get their full workforce back to the office. Staggered shifts, roster system to manage work strength, etc. are some of the options being followed by organisations now.

So when at a given point of time only a small percentage of employees will be present at a workplace, then will companies continue to require large real estate?

Several large enterprises are rethinking their workspace strategy as it adds to the overall expense be it in terms of real estate cost, overhead expenses and now, the additional cost of implementing preventive measures for a safe work environment. Organisations are also looking at sustainability and reconsidering the need for large under-utilised spaces.

Thus, in a new world order, decentralised space will become real where a smaller number of employees work in teams in smaller office spaces. In the future, the concept of a large headquarter where thousands converge may get redundant. It is a win-win situation for both the employee and the employer. Companies won’t have to incur enormous real estate costs, and employees won’t have to commute long distances or relocate.

Co-working spaces fit well to fulfil such geographical diversifications as companies won’t have to build up workplaces from scratch in various locations. It’s an option that allows flexibility, agility and cost savings, both for the employees and employers. The workplace of tomorrow will be distributed and flatten the density of workforce in one single space. The office should be a place of comfort and offer the best of facilities and amenities, all under one roof. So flexible workspaces come out as a perfect answer.

Man is a social animal. It has been repeated ad nauseam.

Offices provide social security. It is here that ideas get exchanged, be it around coffee machines or in long-drawn meetings in conference rooms. The social capital of any organisation can thrive only when the osmosis is not limited to technological interpretations. If the soul of an organisation is its employee, then the chatter of employees, the heartbeat.

Ideas aren’t merely borne out of PowerPoint presentations, rather they take shape over tea breaks. Meetings over the internet, with an employee, sitting alone in his study most often may elicit theoretical solutions, but rarely, do they result in innovative ideas. How long can creative brainstorming sustain on a Zoom call.

In the post-pandemic world, the health of an organisation won’t just be its financial books, instead, it would be the safety that workplaces offer employees. Among many things that this pandemic has taught us, one of the most important is the need to build the ‘office of tomorrow’ based on the ‘lessons learnt today.’

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Founder Neetish Sarda

Work From Home Fatigue Setting in: Neetish Sarda, Smartworks

The cost of managing office spaces during the pandemic has increased exponentially, making organisations outsource office management to third-party providers, says Neetish Sarda, founder of Smartworks, a managed office provider to enterprises and MNCs.

Founded in April 2016, Smartworks reportedly raised $25 million from Singapore-based Keppel Land last November. The post-Covid world, Sarda maintains, will be all about expansion, acceleration and opportunities. “The industry will see some significant revival, and we remain bullish on the sector,” he says in an interview to Forbes India.

Over the past two months, he claims Smartworks has leased more than 2 lakh sq ft to clients across locations from IT, BFSI, manufacturing, logistics and energy sectors. There is a lot of office space demand in the market as companies explore the hybrid model. “Owing to this demand, we are moving ahead with our expansion plans,” he adds. Edited excerpts:

Q. When do you reckon people will come back to office and co-working hubs?

The pandemic-imposed ‘work from home’ led to cost savings for companies in terms of rent, maintenance, housekeeping and monthly overheads. But five months down, we see work-from-home fatigue setting in and companies reconsidering their office spaces, as work-from-home cannot be a permanent solution.

At Smartworks, we are witnessing a high demand from enterprises for smaller and distributed spaces across locations, owing to flexibility and mobility as they explore a hybrid model for the future. Some of our clients have already resumed work with a staggered workforce, and by the end of this year, we expect the occupancy to be around 35% to 40%.

Q. The pandemic battered the concept of co-working. How do you see it panning out?

The health crisis has stressed the need for flexibility and agility. Post-Covid, co-working will play a critical role as organisations are planning a distributed workforce strategy, and require hybrid workplaces. While some companies are exploring the ‘Work near home’ policy, many are considering geographical diversification instead of a single, large office. Flexible workspaces or co-working spaces may become part of core strategy, considering the cost benefits, amenities and services under one roof, in the long run.

Covid-19 has accelerated the need for managed services. Companies want to concentrate more on their core competency and look forward to managed services providers to help them manage their office spaces and bring additional value-added services.

Q. What sort of technology tweaks did you make to deal with the post-Covid world?

We were the first co-working player to introduce ‘Smart Mitri’—an artificial intelligence (AI) Humanoid for overall office and visitor management. To strengthen the link between workspace belonging and business performance, we have rolled out IoT-enabled meeting rooms, contactless visitor management systems, a robust mobile app, smart feedback platforms, parking management systems and digital pantry services. The idea is to reduce dependency on the workforce, and enable members to go contactless during the pandemic, keeping them literally ‘hands-off’ for daily support. This pandemic has taught us the tight correlation between technology and workforce interactions and performance.

During the initial lockdown phase, we revisited all our processes to ensure a safe and sanitised environment right from entry to exit. There has been a strict implementation of proactive measures to adhere to the social distancing norms, hygiene practices, temperature- screening and awareness. We have redesigned the offices to ensure spacing of desks and enhanced sanitisation measures. Our workspaces today have the latest new-age preventive measures such as sanitisation tunnels, for vehicles, foot paddles for touchless door opening and hygrometers for humidity control.

Q. So you see a massive opportunity in post-Covid world?

Smartworks is one of India’s fastest-growing and leading flexible workspace provider to have become profitable and has clocked over Rs 100 crore in revenue in just three years of its operations. The company has been profitable for an entire year at the corporate level. Though the pandemic has slowed down our expansion and growth plans temporarily, we remain bullish on scaling our business.

Currently, we have a growing footprint of over 4 million Sq.ft, covering nine key markets. By the end of 2020, we aim to expand our footprint to 4.5 million sq. ft. We do anticipate a rebound in 2021 and believe the co-working market will see significant recovery as the trends are positive.

There is enough appetite for co-working space in the market. Continued infrastructure demand, future workspaces, distributed workforce and a safe and sanitised environment are the need of the hour and will drive market growth in the future as well. We believe the industry has reached a point where it will be more about quality than quantity.

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coworking space expanded in bengaluru and chennai

Smartworks Expanded Business to Bengaluru and Mumbai market

Smartworks Coworking Spaces has taken more than 400,000 square feet of office space in Bengaluru and Mumbai on a long-term lease spread over 15 years in a bid to use the Covid-19 crisis as an opportunity to grow in a less competitive market. With this deal, financial details of which were not disclosed, the Noida-based co-working spaces operator’s footprint has expanded to more than 4 million sq ft, with a total investment of Rs 250 crore so far. “We are very bullish on scaling our business in the existing cities. We have leased over 1 lakh sft in Bengaluru alone in the last two months to clients across IT-ITes/BFSI and manufacturing,” said founder Neetish Sarda.

Smartworks has been growing in southern and western India since early 2019 and is expected to expand its workplace portfolio to 4.5 million sq ft by 2020-end. “Smartworks has clocked over Rs 100 crore in revenue and has been profitable for an entire year at the corporate level,” said Sarda. Currently, the company has 70, 000 seats spread across 31 centres in nine cities, including the National Capital Region (NCR), Mumbai, Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Pune, Chennai and Kolkata. “We are growing as per our clients’ requirements and are seeing demand from large companies,” said Sarda.

In October last year, Singapore-based Keppel Land had invested US $25 million in Smartworks Coworking Spaces for a minority stake. The company plans to enter cities such as Bhubaneswar and Ahmedabad with small-format facilities in coming years. It has a presence in nine major Indian cities – Delhi, Noida, Gurgaon, Kolkata, Bengaluru, Mumbai, Hyderabad, Chennai and Pune. Many large companies and e-commerce firms are likely to adopt a mix of core workplaces and external flexible options post COVID-19.

Co-working has been among the fastest-growing segments for the past three years. However, the segment saw a huge contraction in business due to the global outbreak of COVID-19. According to the latest report by Knight Frank, smaller co-working space operators are expected to find it very difficult to weather the COVID-19 storm with around 3.2 msf of flexible space anticipated to be vacated by these operators in 2020.

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Founder Neetish Sarda

Pros and Cons of Work From Home – Smartworks

Companies are trying hard to reinvent in the post Covid-19 era. Here, co-working providers face a daunting challenge, as apart from the pandemic driven disruption, some companies see work from home as a long-term strategy and may not have all employees coming back to offices in a hurry. In an e-mail interview, Neetish Sarda, founder, Smartworks says there are limitations to working from home and employees will be back into offices. In turn, Smartworks is ensuring safe work places in sync with needs of a post-Covid 19 world. It’s also using technologies like IoT and Virtual Reality (VR) to ensure contactless workspaces, safe working environments and virtual tour of offices to help companies make their decisions. Edited excerpts:

What are some of the significant changes you have seen in the post Covid era?

The pandemic has compelled all of us to re-imagine and re-create the workplace and called for stringent measures to work on aspects like incorporating social distancing norms and technological interventions while opening up new horizons to explore.

The most significant change in offices has been the spacing of desks – diagonal arrangements rather than across each other, which means less seating available on every floor. Employee well-being has taken precedence over everything else. We are leveraging our all-new Smartworks mobile app for contactless service and support requests.

Work From Home (WFH) has been a saviour for corporates in times of the pandemic. This has an impact on demand for commercial real estate and co-working. How do you plan to make co-working relevant for companies?

India is a service-based economy and the WFH can never be a permanent solution. Also, WFH arrangement doesn’t work for everyone – there are space constraints, technical glitches, and the overall ecosystem needs to be conducive for an employee to be productive.

We foresee increased demand for co-working spaces as the occupiers are likely to continue with flexible workspace providers compared to the traditional workspace. The physical constraints and mandated social distancing norms will make co-working spaces the first choice for many organisations since WFH comes with challenges.

While some companies are exploring the ‘Work Near Home’ policy, many may consider leasing smaller spaces at different locations instead of absorbing large areas. These trends will benefit the co-working segment as it is in the best position to cater to such flexible demands.

What new technologies are you implementing?

Covid-19 has accelerated the digitization of workspaces, and technology has emerged as a strategic asset, a necessity that will define the future of workspace experience. Embracing the digital transformation is the only way forward, and future workplaces will be all about personalized and digitized solutions.

IoT enabled meeting rooms, deploying humanoid as a front office assistant, contactless visitor management system, smart feedback platform, parking management system, or ordering beverages from the meeting room are some of our tech offerings.

Such tech offerings have reduced the dependency on the workforce and enabled members to go contactless during the pandemic, keeping members literally ‘hands-off’ for daily support.

We have been making use of various forms of technology like ML, AI, IoT to create future workspaces.

Is Virtual Reality (VR) coming into play now? If so, in what areas?

VR has been there for long but has made significant progress in the last few years. Many within the commercial real estate sector have been deploying technologies like VR and Augmented Reality (AR) to ensure that the entire site selection process is seamless and offers an immersive experience. VR has the power to change how businesses will take/see offices for years to come.

We have started conducting virtual reality-led facility tours for our clients as a part of our sales strategy. VR has helped us conduct guided tours and interactive visits during this pandemic and has also helped us offer to clients the flexibility to navigate through a virtual office space.

The VR tours simplify the pre-configuration conversation with a realistic, detailed look at the space that can be viewed anywhere and anytime. This new solution is working as effectively as it is in real-time and cuts across locations. The current situation may have restricted movements, but the need for office spaces remains, and VR has made it convenient to address client queries regarding the facility tours. Our VR Studio is designed with an ultra-high-resolution screen that will make the entire office space experience so real for any client/user that it will be challenging to differentiate the virtual office space design from the real one.

It has allowed the clients to narrow down on locations, visualize their office space by changing the carpets, seating arrangements, wallpaper, and décor as per their brand ethos and office needs.

In the last couple of months, we have taken more than 60-70 customers through these VR tours. Going forward we will be setting up VR Studios across our facilities to provide our customers with VR office tours.

Are you collaborating with technology providers for VR solutions? If so, which are these, and what solutions are they providing?

We are leveraging TREZI- a VR collaboration design platform for conducting ‘virtual meetings’ & ‘online collaboration’ with our stakeholders.

The purpose of facilitating VR guided tours for our clients is to provide them with more in-depth, faster analysis and more explicit, compelling presentations of their office space design and utilization while connecting virtually from any location. We are effectively communicating spatial concepts to them through immersive design reviews to unlock better decisions and alignment.

Overall, how is VR helping the various stakeholders–customers, employees, and co-working companies?

If we go by market analysis, the real estate industry is expected to be one of the top sectors that will be transformed by virtual reality. The use of VR in commercial real estate has added an extra dimension to marketing strategy.

For co-working players, it has emerged as a powerful tool to reach out to potential customers and has eliminated physical distance in these tough times.

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Virtual Reality

Virtual Reality Gets ‘Real’ in Coworking Spaces

With great disruption comes a great chance of adaptation. While the global economy deals with the fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic, businesses have to settle in with the new normal as we all quietly accept the altering new reality. Theoretical discussions on considering remote workplace, online teaching, and rise of online shopping has suddenly received a boost and garnered traction like never before.

During this time, technology has opened a lot of opportunities for running a business and improving performance while keeping the work-life balance secure. Like the majority of sectors, the global pandemic has posed challenges for the coworking sector as well. Even though there has been a rise in the number of enquiries with SMEs and large enterprises exploring managed office spaces, the deals are taking longer to materialize.

At a time when movements are restricted, people are cautious about visiting places, Virtual Reality (VR) is helping bring together potential clients and the office space providers. While some sectors are hit harder than others, coworking is finding innovative solutions and strategic ways of staying afloat and adjusting to the new normal.

Traditionally stuck in the realm of gaming, VR enabled solutions also offer an immersive experience to manage guided trips, interactive visits, virtual staging, and visualization benefits for the coworking sector. VR is going beyond the vanilla office and floor plans. A real-time experience of the real site, thereby allowing potential clients to navigate the office space.

Everyone needs office space. The coworking sector has started building virtual reality-led facility tours as a part of their sales strategy to let the potential buyers understand and enjoy the office experience. The decision-makers in an organisation may not be working from the same location; they are usually spread across locations. And to get them all of them in one place, at one time, may not be possible every time, but you can take your space to them. Yes, the magic of VR!

With the use of a VR headset, one can do more than just navigating through a virtual office space. They will be immersed in a virtual office – interact with objects and get a sense of the actual space. The overall experience can be magical to those inexperienced with this tech tool. It allows the clients to narrow down locations, visualize their office space by changing the carpets, seating arrangements, wallpaper, and décor as per their brand ethos and office needs.

VR offers a promising future for business owners and leaders, as its impact is visible, quite literally. From providing real-life design and imagery to helping executives to assess and coordinate resources, VR is a valuable option for enterprises to save time and money. For any coworking space owner, reviewing a space with 3D models in VR can help collaborations across departments from effectively and will transform the engagement model.

Technology has emerged as a strategic asset, a necessity that will define the future of workspace experience. It would not be wrong to say that now is the right opportunity to add virtual Reality as part of your real strategy!

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Smartworks in Mumbai

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

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

Benefits of Co-Working Spaces in the Dark Covid-19

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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Virtual Reality

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, according to a 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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