Our Co-Founder, Harsh Binani in an interview with The Ken, explains how Smartworks is a collection of enclosed private offices that are suitable for large 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.
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.
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.
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!
“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
Poets & Quants in collaboration with the top business schools around the world enlist the Top 100 MBA Startups that are the major disruptors and game changers in their respective fields.
Smartworks has been listed as one of the most interesting and influential ventures in the world.
Smartworks remains driven to provide an unparalleled experience to all its members and scale greater heights.
Visit https://poetsandquants.com/2020/03/30/poetsquants-top-mba-startups-of-2020/ to learn more about the 2020 Top MBA Start-Ups, and read about the methodology of the ranking
Co-working is a collaborative, flexible, yet self-directed and independent work style. Freelancers, independent contractors, remote workers, and people who travel frequently tend to choose co-working spaces. While start-ups and individuals find co-working immensely convenient and cost-effective, today large organizations are adopting it to fuel innovation, diversity and expansion.
In recent years, the Asia-Pacific, including India, has seen significant demand for co-working spaces (a trend that started in the US and Europe initially), and this continues to increase.
How are co-working spaces different?
Co-working spaces have become a popular choice because of the many advantages they have over traditional workspaces.
Affordability: Co-working spaces offer members the workspace and amenities of a fully-equipped office at affordable prices along with networking and collaboration opportunities with like-minded individuals.
Sense of community: Co-working helps avoid the isolation of a home office or a coffee shop. It also offers the chance for meaningful interactions and connections with others in the space. The members of a co-working space like being in the company of similar people. Co-working space providers organize various corporate skilling workshops that bring together people from different walks of life and equip them with the latest skills of the industry. They also hold various recreational activities and wellness programmes to keep their employees engaged and motivated.
Flexibility: Many co-working spaces operate 24×7, offering a wide choice of hours and schedules. People get the chance to do more meaningful work, as they experience more control over their time. This flexibility extends to expenses and amenities also. Most co-working spaces have their offices across multiple cities and offer a standardized experience in all their centres, which enables companies to expand their geographical footprint, without any hassles.
Access to resources and networking opportunities: Co-working spaces often have the best minds or experts in their fields. They offer easy access to potential clients, partners, and mentors, and can seek their advice and support. Members typically experience less competition and more collaboration.
Work-life balance: Co-working helps members maintain a work routine while keeping to their schedule. Co-working spaces today have a sports arena, gymnasiums, and break out rooms for members to rewind and de-stress. They also have exclusive partnerships for transportation, food and beverage, and laundry services, among others, for providing maximized comfort to the employees.
Co-working and mental health
Everyone wants a harmonious and positive work environment. They wish to meet and associate with friendly and stimulating people there. Co-working helps alleviate most of the stress related to usual work environments and fosters good connections among like-minded people.
Moreover, most co-working spaces organize exciting events and educational opportunities for their users’ benefit. The member engagement activities range from corporate training and grooming sessions to hobby clubs to seminars on entrepreneurship to dance, yoga, and meditation sessions to art and craft workshops.
Co-working spaces now provide an opportunity for a healthy work-life balance with an array of partnerships that individuals and companies can leverage at the click of a button such as a creche, concierge services, food and hospitality, employee engagement activities and recreational events, among others. Such facilities under one roof relieve stress and increase comfort among members.
Shared space operators are leaving no stone unturned to provide managed and customizable offices with world-class facilities in a collaborative community environment, to ensure employees get an extremely well-managed, inspiring workspace that adds to productivity and reduces attrition.
‘Uncertainties need not be anxiety inducing experiences’ Neetish Sarda, Founder, Smartworks
The Biggest Business Worry Now:
As an organization, we are responsible for the wellbeing of our employees and worried about the uncertainties related with COVID-19
The Toughest Challenge in Dealing with this Situation:
Employee well-being and ensuring minimal impact to business commitments.
One Work-From-Home Hack That Works for You:
Setting a schedule and task list for the day to manage all priorities.
Your Coping Strategy in These Times of Disruption:
I personally believe if there is anything you can do to keep off disaster, it’s to be prepared and be careful.
A Lasting Leadership Lesson the Pandemic has Taught You:
As an entrepreneur, we all have struggled with uncertainties and should understand that it does not need to be an anxiety inducing experience
Future of the workforce
The workplace has evolved and is no longer a place wherein we go and work but should be something we feel connected with. The whole concept of the future workspaces and its purpose is changing. The changing nature of work, along with existing working environments and the falling cost-effectiveness of the workspace, is making it imperative for the firms to make improvements for the future.
The future workplace should satiate our sensitive satisfaction and must offer enough provision to collaborate and provide digital-first capabilities. The future workspace also calls for cultural transformation to help the organization adapt to the changing market dynamics and should create opportunities for people to more efficiently learn and share knowledge, conduct trade, and build tight communities. Organisations have acknowledged that there is a close link between good employee experience and exceptional customer service. We believe the confluence of design, technology; Collaboration will be the key to future workspaces. An engaging office will go a long way to attract and retain talent. It will enable HR teams to recruit high-quality people of all ages across the organization and potentially strengthen organization prospects for long term success.
Also, in the years to come, the future of the workplace will be defined by personalized solutions, well-being, inclusivity, and culture. The workplaces will be completely automated and will open up pathways to improve the employee experience. Workspaces that implement eco-friendly practices will only increase in number as younger generations have become environmentally conscious will require businesses to adhere to specific environmental standards. AI will become an intrinsic part of an individual’s profile and will take care of basis interruptions like basic email, time management, meeting requests. We will also see a lot of workforces compelled to purpose-driven organizations wherein they seek out greater meaning and relevance in what they do.
Overcoming industry challenges
The co-working industry has been through a significant transformation and has evolved; however, we believe the market will see some increase in consolidation, mergers, and acquisitions soon. Also, we believe one of the significant challenges faced by small players is to assess the business risks involved as they might not be able to sustain the environment in the long run. The industry should start focusing more on service offerings as we believe that will be the key differentiator and will set one apart.
The burgeoning growth of entrepreneurship and startups has led to an exponential increase in the number of location-independent workers. The workforce of today largely comprises of millennials who demand a coworking space which is driven by agility, affordability, networking opportunities and maximized community collaboration.
The coworking sector in India is constantly thriving and witnessing an extensive boom in popularity, with a rapid increase in the number of corporate companies utilizing co-working spaces in expanding their geographical footprint. According to JLL predictions, co-working will constitute at least 50% of all commercial real estate in the coming decade. Even though India is APAC’s second-largest market for flexible workspaces and has witnessed an enormous increase in the number of people opting to work out of a coworking space only 40 per cent of all co-working spaces in the world are profitable.
The emerging trend of coworking has led to the mushrooming increase of co-working space providers to cater to the rising demands, however, sustenance of a co-working space is way strenuous than it seems. Apart from sustaining the occupancy levels and maintaining a diversified client mix, the flexible workspace operators are enduring enormous challenges to stay profitable.
DATA SECURITY AND PRIVACY
Large enterprises are often apprehensive about working out of a shared workspace owing to their scepticism of privacy and confidentiality breach. However, managed space providers are configuring office spaces in accordance with the needs of the companies and providing them with a secure environment by installing smart visitor management systems and integrated alarm systems. Most coworking providers are also introducing private Wi-Fi networks for individual clients and implementing strict security policy to safeguard their members from cyber threats.
Standardization of Experience
One of the primary challenges faced by coworking spaces is optimizing operational costs without compromising on the service quality. Standardization of service offerings and member experience across different centres and cities within the country would become a priority for all the co-working players. Standardized working environment, state-of-the-art amenities and services will enable member companies to expand their geographical footprint and boost employee morale.
Increased competition and consolidation
As the sector grows in leaps and bounds, coworking space providers have to constantly innovate and re-invent their service offerings to provide an unmatched experience to their member companies and maximize their profitability. With global real estate investors showing interest in the co-working sector, numerous mergers and consolidations can be foreseen, with smaller unorganized players becoming a part of a larger known brand. Staying relevant and profitable at the face of the growing competition is a major challenge for most co-working players.
Seamless technology integration at workspaces
Technology plays a crucial role in creating gratifying work experience and defining how employees interact with each other. The modern workspace experience rests on how efficiently employees can leverage technology to get their work done and increase their productivity. Some of the proprietary tech solutions deployed by workspace providers are smart video conferencing and networking equipment, uninterrupted super-fast Wi-Fi, cybersecurity solutions, and enterprise security tools.
Some workspace providers have already begun offering easy-to-use mobile applications to accentuate better issue resolution for their community members. The introduction of AI-enabled interactive bots in office spaces help in the overall office management activities such as real-time updates to facility managers and grievance recording, it acts as an important communication tool between facility managers and business owners. There is still abundant scope for managed space providers to innovate and introduce IoT-based solutions to elevate the working experience of the members and ensure seamless operations.
B2B growth opportunities
One of the perks of working out of a coworking space includes endless networking opportunities, with different people from diverse fields working under the same roof. Managed space providers are constantly looking out for more avenues for enhancing community collaborations. Space providers are yet to come out with a unifying platform for facilitating B2B collaborations.
With the cultural shift in the way people work, co-working is becoming a one-stop solution to all office needs, complete with collaboration opportunities, employee engagement activities and modern amenities. Coworking spaces are constantly innovating to provide elevating work experience to ensure employee happiness and wellbeing. Even though the sector is gaining popularity owing to the lower costs, workspace flexibility, skill-sharing workshops and a greater emphasis on employee engagement and wellbeing activities, there are still a lot of growth opportunities that are yet to be leveraged.
IoT is helping Smartworks create the workplace of the future by increasing employee productivity and lowering down energy consumption by 15 per cent.
Co-working space provider Smartworks is using its own operating system for office to stay ahead. In conversation with ETCIO, Harsh Binani, Co-founder of the company talks about their implementation of IoT to cut energy consumption and make it easier for employees to find a meeting room when they need it.
How are you trying to create a workplace for the future?
We have made a lot of investments in building Smart OS (Operating System) to run the office. Smart OS is a combination of a variety of proprietary apps that we have built, combined with a lot of external applications at a higher level. This not only drives our internal program but also a customer-facing interface which touchpoints with our customers.
Our entire endeavour is to map and create an ecosystem which drives client engagement at all the touchpoints and unifies all the services. Right from your entrance to the Smartworks office to your exit, we map all the touchpoints digitally.
Similarly, we have a visitor management system where rather than entering the details manually, the visitors who come here, can easily walk in seamlessly using a smart pass on his phone and enter an access controlled environment in Smartworks.
How are you making the HVAC system intelligent?
We have also invested a lot with a third party on making the HVAC (Heating, Ventilation and Conditioning) systems intelligent. This allows an employee to control the temperature of his surroundings up to 25 m in radius. It not only controls the temperature but also shows the air quality, humidity and airflow.
The exciting developments that have happened in the last 6 months are the meeting room management and booking system.
It is something which is fairly unstructured in offices and a lot of meeting rooms end up getting booked without any prior notice. And similarly,, who’s using the meeting room? What’s the purpose, a lot of analytics that needs to be done in a meeting room that is the problem statement that we started with for this entire meeting room solutions.
What role is IoT playing in making workplaces smarter?
We have developed a proprietary meeting room scheduler application, which works on IoT. We have tablets installed outside each of the meeting rooms which is also integrated with our Smartworks app. Through this app, one can book the meeting room. The distinguishing factor is that it only allows you to use the amenities of the meeting room if you have booked it.
Once you have booked the meeting room, you can switch on the light using the electrical connections within the room. Through this, we are not only able to plug-in the leakage of energy consumption but also gives the power to the user so he can control all the elements of the meeting room.
Through the Smartworks application, the user can also book beverages or snacks that they want to order during the meeting. So both these features combined to make a very powerful experience within this.
The entire HVAC intelligent extract application ends up using less electricity. So, automatically through the tailoring of the entire system, we are able to reduce the electricity consumption at a high level which helps in reducing the carbon footprint. Since the last 6 months, we’ve reduced our energy consumption by more than 15 per cent.