The pandemic put many industries at a standstill overnight, heavily impacting sectors like travel and real estate in particular. With offices being shut for an unprecedented amount of time, enterprises across various verticals had to adapt to remote working models, and constantly innovate to meet the ever-changing needs of their workforce. In the past year, there has been a lot of ambiguity around how workspaces will function, how the pandemic will impact commercial real estate, how teams will communicate with each other and how businesses will continue to run as they once used to.
Now, as life slowly returns to normal with vaccination rates rising and lockdown restrictions easing, there is an inherent need to address the future of work – for both enterprises and their workforces. Many companies put their physical expansion plans on hold during the pandemic, and while the real estate sector was hit hard in 2020, enterprises seem to be bouncing back with newer, more flexible models of work. As per a KPMG study, more than two-thirds of CEOs (68%) from large companies plan to downsize their current office spaces. In addition to this, a JLL report showed that the Indian flexible workspace market witnessed a net absorption of more than 17 million sq.ft., and the space is set to grow even further in 2021. The rising shift towards flexible workspaces has been driven by various factors.
One of the biggest myths busted by COVID-19 was that remote working hampers productivity levels. A study conducted by Deloitte showed that 94% of respondents said work flexibility would benefit them, make them less stressed, improve their mental health and result in a better work-life balance. While there are employees who miss going to physical workspaces and miss the interpersonal interactions that a physical office space inspired, there are many who have settled into the work from the home model so comfortably that they would rather shift the job then continue having to go to the office five days a week.
From an enterprise perspective, the flexible work model has multiple benefits to consider. The hybrid work model has become almost essential for companies of all sizes as they try to create an organizational culture that welcomes employees back into a hospitable and safe environment. With COVID-19 imposing heavy restrictions and strict safety guidelines on employers, companies are moving towards considering reduced in-person work hours and smaller teams, which also implies a reducing need for large, fixed commercial workspaces.
For enterprises, flexible workspace solutions offer a larger degree of freedom than large standalone office space or commercial property. Flexible workspaces allow employers and enterprises to be present across multiple locations without actually having to set up a physical office space when venturing into a new market, which cuts down on establishment costs and reduces the time taken to enter a new market as well. Flexible work also increases an enterprise’s ability to increase their scope of work geographically, being able to work from anywhere at any time, while eliminating additional costs, time, or manpower that may usually come with moving to a new market.
Another plus point is the additional amenities and infrastructure that come with a flexible work model. Many offices now require to be digitally equipped with AI and IoT-run smart systems to increase efficiency and improve the quality of work being done. Digital systems can also help a hybrid work model function better due to reduced human intervention, while also making it easier for enterprises to switch over to remote working if a situation like the pandemic arises in the future.
By Ramesh Nair, Chief Executive Officer | India and Managing Director, Market Development | Asia, Colliers India
With a diverse experience of over 23 years, Ramesh’s career has been focused on overseeing/driving transformational change and delivering real estate solutions to domestic and multinational owners, investors and occupiers across India and South Asia. As the Chief Executive Officer (CEO), India & Managing Director, Market Development, Asia, Ramesh is responsible for the overall direction, strategy, and growth of the India’s business. His key responsibilities include driving long-term sustainable and profitable growth for the company along with developing company’s short-term and long-term strategy. He also drives business development and key relationship management across APAC to expand our client base and identify new business and opportunities to accelerate success.
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