As COVID-19 cases witness a significant fall, a majority of employees in telecom and consulting sectors have returned to office, according to a survey by Colliers and Awfis. It added that IT and new-technology companies are witnessing the lowest rate of return.
“After a gap of two years, return to offices has gathered momentum with ebbing COVID-19 cases, signifying positive occupier confidence. At the same time, about 74 per cent of the occupiers are looking towards distributed workspaces as a strategy to shift from location-centric to people-centric workspaces. This will enable flexibility to employees while furthering productivity gains for businesses,” according to the study.
According to the study, more than half of the IT/ITeS companies (the largest occupier group) prefer a distributed work model for their employees.
“Therefore, we can see opportunities for flex spaces not only in metro cities but also in non-metro cities. In fact, in non-metro cities, total flex spaces are likely to grow more than two-fold to 5.5 million sq feet by the end of 2022,” said Ramesh Nair, chief executive officer (India) and managing director (market development-Asia), Colliers.
It added that about 53 per cent of the occupiers prefer a hybrid workplace plan for their employees, with working from home and office in varying degrees. Time and cost savings, increased employee convenience and overall well-being of employees are key priorities for occupiers, as they look to enable distributed workspace strategy.
“About 79 per cent of the occupiers who are ready to opt for flex spaces see time and cost savings as major benefits. Clearly, pursuing business goals in tandem with benefits to employees is at the core of occupiers’ interest,” it said.
Awfis founder & CEO Amit Ramani said, “The findings of the survey are a testament to the success of the distributed work model and subsequently of flex spaces in catering to the ever-evolved workspace needs of India Inc. The survey unveils that currently, 74 per cent occupiers have adopted flex centres for their workspace needs, given the multiple benefits associated with flex working.”
Ramani added that going forward, 77 per cent occupiers will include flex spaces as part of their workplace strategy. We expect exceptional demand in the future, driven largely by large corporates for de-densification of existing traditional offices.
“Keeping employee centricity at the forefront, 79 per cent of the occupiers feel that distributed workplace strategy will be highly beneficial to save time and money. Additionally, work-life balance, mental wellbeing and team productivity are fueled when opting for flex spaces,” said Sumit Lakhani, deputy CEO, Awfis.
In the first half of 2022, flex operators leased about 3.5 million sq feet, accounting for about 13 per cent of the overall leasing, in line with the surging demand for flex space by occupiers.
“About 90 per cent of the occupiers from e-commerce and consulting sectors are likely to include flex space in their current portfolio. Occupiers see dual benefits arising out of distributed workspaces. They view time and cost-saving benefits followed by better work-life balance for employees,” said Vimal Nadar, senior director and head (research) at Colliers India.