When Alibaba group was looking for space to house their business development and sales teams, they zeroed in on Cowrks, a shared space in Bengaluru.
“We had the option of going into our own space but we wanted a positive and vibrant environment for our employees. We get infrastructure, support, technology assistance and almost everything that is needed for a workplace,” said Priya Cherian, head HR, Alibaba APAC. Considered ideal haunts for freelancers and startups, shared spaces are finding a huge market with MNCs and large corporates.
Bengaluru-based Cowrks which has spaces across the country has companies like Standard Chartered and Airbus. Chennai-based Karya Space counts Advent Tech, RGF Japan and Slicepay amongst its clients. A Shankar, national director — strategic consulting, JLL says cost, infrastructure and networking opportunities are driving demand for co-working spaces. “Such spaces offer flexible lease option and location benefits. For many companies travel convenience is a high priority, and hence prime office location is important as is infrastructure. When they expand in new markets geographically, this space is beneficial and becomes first choice. Most firms treat employee experience in the workplace is an additional area of focus, to attract and retain talent, as a generational shift takes place in the labour market,” he said.
Nearly 70% of opportunity in co-working space market lies with large corporate firms seeking alternative, activity-based workplaces to nurture their talent and further their business growth, says Shankar.
Amazon and Narayana Hrudayalaya (NH) are among those that have taken up space at Bengaluru-based BHIVE Workspace. “Corporates and MNCs is huge focus area for us. I think the flexibility of location works well for them. For instance, NH has their hospitals in the outskirts of the city and their admin team did not want to be housed within the hospital. Our space is convenient for them,” said Shesh Rao Paplikar, BHIVE Workspace.
Given the demand, Chennai-based Karya Space is looking to launch Karya Jumbo where large spaces (around 10,000sq ft) will be taken up and managed.
“The requirements for corporates are often different from startups as they’d like simplicity in billing, privacy and functionality vs a startup wanting more networking opportunities. At Karya we don’t charge our residents for any extra hours they use in the meeting/conference rooms which usually business centers charge for With fledgling startups and established corporates, we get the right mix of people,” said Arjjun Chander, founder, Karya Space. When a group company of a large Indian conglomerate wanted to set up base in South India, they first took up space in a business centre. Now, their team of 7 have taken up seats at Karya Space. “There is a 30-40% saving. What is more important is the freedom to stretch work hours if required and the open spaces. We get to interact with people from different walks. The events they conduct are interesting. The support structure like free WiFi and a full pantry is a blessing. ,” said an employee of the company.
Privacy and security remains a concern especially for large companies. “We do worry about it. CoWrks has taken measures to ensure that our internet lines are secure and private. We have to be extra careful with documents being left around,” said Cherian of Alibaba. BHIVE uses technology that helps them use multiple service providers, control access and scale based on usage.