India‘s top five flexible workspace providers are expected to post 30-60% growth in revenues this financial year, thanks to a surge in demand with companies calling employees back to the office.
WeWork India, Smartworks, Awfis, Table Space and IndiQube – which contribute more than half of the domestic flexible workspace industry – are also looking to add 12 million sq ft in the next financial year even as SoftBank Group-backed startup WeWork filed for US bankruptcy protection earlier this month.
Neetish Sarda, founder, Smartworks, said the company places emphasis on value-pricing and a superior user experience. “We pivoted to the managed space model, targeting enterprises as the primary stakeholders. This model helped us grow even during the pandemic while others struggled to survive,” he said.
Smartworks has a portfolio of 8 million sq ft and it plans to add 3-4 million sq ft every year.
Karan Virwani, CEO, WeWork India said the past couple of years had been pivotal in highlighting the value of flexible workspaces in the Indian work landscape. “Businesses of all sizes, especially enterprises, are increasingly adopting flex working as a way of life,” he said.
Pre-Covid, there were around 400 operators across 1,500 locations in about 55 cities in India. This has increased to around 965 operators spanning 2,320 locations in about 90 cities, indicating a noticeable increase in the utilisation of commercial real estate spaces.
“In the dynamically evolving corporate landscape, the significance of world-class and premium office spaces has escalated significantly and there is a noticeable gap in the availability of such spaces in India, which we are now addressing,” said Krishna Nagarajan, chief operating officer, Table Space.
According to the Indian unit of US-based Upflex, a hybrid booking platform with the largest global network of flexible workspaces, the share of this segment in office space absorption has risen from just 7% in 2019-20 to 21% in 2022-23. This is expected to reach 27% this financial year, as per Upflex’s estimates.
“As a global coworking organisation confronts the possibility of bankruptcy, the flexible office sector in India is experiencing unprecedented growth. Managed office space take-up in Q3 2023 continued to sustain with demand coming in from diverse sectors such as BFSI, technology, engineering & manufacturing, and life sciences, among others,” said Puneet Chandra, co-founder, Skootr, a managed workspace provider.