“The trend is here to stay and there is a lot of value waiting to be unlocked” – Mandeep Bakshi, Founder & CEO, OfficingNow
By: Saloni Bhalotiya, Research Associate, Ken Research Private Limited
The flexible workspace industry in India has been drastically changing in the recent past. Dynamic workspaces and changing business scenario have led to the evolution of flexible workspace industry in India. In order to understand the role of aggregators and brokers in the industry, we reached out to Mandeep Bakshi, Founder & CEO, OfficingNow
Here are some edited excerpts of the interview:
When and why did you launch OfficingNow?
OfficingNow was launched with the objective of providing a plethora of options and support to enterprises for their ever-evolving office needs. Over time we noticed that companies have workspace needs that vary with time and with their nature of work. Companies are not treating workspace as capital expense and they want their workspaces to change and evolve along with their business cycle. The business cycles for companies were changing at faster rates leading to changing workspace requirements. We wanted to acknowledge the changing trend in the market. We also observed a parallel shift in the supply side of the industry. Our objective was to cater to the changing needs of enterprises by connecting them to the right flexible workspace and helping them manage the usage while allowing them to focus on their core business.
How are flexible workspace aggregators/brokers such as OfficingNow able to get people to flexible workspaces?
We get different clients who are either looking to shift from commercial office to serviced office or vice versa. Brokers and aggregators do not have to bear the burden of high capital investment and long leases unlike flexible workspace operators and therefore are able to invest and focus on marketing and customer services. As the size of the enterprise increases, the company looks for more personalised and customised office spaces. We connect them to the right property owner or operator of serviced spaces who can cater to their specific requirements.
Who are the major occupiers of flexible workspaces?
Established companies are looking for more permanent and customised office solutions. However, growing companies that are yet evolving are the ones who are looking for flexible workspaces. Growing number of start-ups and freelancers are also major occupiers of flexible workspaces. We have clients from different sectors, but majority of our clients are from the IT sector.
What are your views on the concept and future of Niche Co-Working Spaces in India?
As new work profiles and niche co-working spaces emerge, community or sector-based group of professionals are the target audience. Providers of such spaces will definitely gain traction in the coming years. If an individual owns a recording studio, they can mitigate the cost by monetising their spare capacity and converting it into a co-working space for musicians. Bangalore, Mumbai and Pune are the upcoming markets for niche co-working.
What are the different competition parameters?
Relevance of the office solution is the most important competitive parameter, followed by the time it takes to close upon the final option and starting the usage of the workspace. The facilities offered by the flexible workspace operators should take away the pain of managing workspace from its members and should enable them to focus on their core operation. Quality of the space is also a very important competitive parameter.
Do you think the participation of traditional real estate companies in the flexible workspace industry will increase in the future?
The traditional mindset of the landlords has been hindering their participation in the industry. Real estate companies look for a long-term deal and they do not want to involve themselves in management of the office spaces. But I think the trend is changing as they have started realising that the tenants are looking for more flexible rental contracts.
In countries such as China, flexible workspace operators are offering business assistance services to its members. Do you see this trend coming in India?
Yes, we have seen many flexible operators who provide business assistance services to its members. At a conceptual level it makes complete sense to provide these services to upcoming enterprises and start-ups. But the reliability of these services is yet to be established and this could be a hindrance to the growth of this trend.
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