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Freelancers, startups drive demand for co-working spaces in Bengaluru

IANS | October 01, 2023 09:53 AM

BENGALURU: IT city Bengaluru, which is hailed as a cradle of startups, is witnessing a trend of startups opting for more flexible offices known as co-working spaces.

The demand for co-working spaces 2023 is increasing in the city. Bengaluru houses the world’s largest co-working campus in HSR Layout.

Flexible offices or co-working spaces are coming in handy for startups as they save a huge investment of renting, leasing or purchasing the office space. They provide office space as per the requirement, budget and time.

As the trend is catching up, entrepreneurs are also explaining that co-working spaces are also helping in crucial networking.

Co-working presents flexibility in terms of leasing contracts and a variety of options. Geographic flexibility is also a significant asset as co-working spaces are available in premium and easily accessible locations.

Startups can be free of such administrative and operative functions and focus on business.

Hence, co-working can complement the flexibility they desire. Not just processes, but co-working can also substantially reduce the initial costs associated with traditional office leases, rent, utilities, maintenance, and office furnishings.

Ashish Agarwal, Co-founder and CEO of Enzyme Office Space talking to IANS stated, "The rising demand for flexible offices in India, driven by changing work habits and the growth of startups and freelancers, has made Bengaluru the top city with 39 per cent of operational flex space since 2018, followed by Delhi NCR at 17 per cent.”

Membership plans enable startups to pay only for needed space, reducing leasing and maintenance costs. Co-working spaces bring professionals from various fields together, fostering networking, collaboration, and potential partnerships, he stated.

Ashish Agarwal further explained that startups often begin in co-working spaces for flexibility and transition to private offices as they expand. These offerings make co-working spaces popular for freelancers, startups, remote workers, and established businesses seeking flexible workspaces.

Shesh Paplikar, Founder and CEO of BHIVE Workspace, which established a huge co-working space on the upscale Church Street in Bengaluru recently, explained to IANS, in terms of demand 2022 saw a significant surge in signups because of pent-up demand and 2020 and 2021 were slow. Once the pandemic was contained many organisations wanted to return to office. 2023 is also witnessing a lot of new supply in the co-working industry.

However, the demand has been slightly on the slower side in 2023 when compared to 2022, which was phenomenally good, so overall it seems slightly muted. Having said that, there are still a lot of good, stable companies that are expanding, he opined.

Startups are a bit more cautious at the moment as there is a funding winter. If their burn rate is very high, they are being forced to reduce the burn rate before they can raise more money, which is also leading to a standstill in hiring or layoffs. On the brighter side of things, a lot of global companies are still hiring in India though they are laying off resources abroad. So, the industry is still optimistic about the demand in 2023, Shesh Paplikar explained.

In general, using co-working space increases the agility of any company, not just a startup. However, given that startups usually want to be more agile, scale up or down, pivot around, change strategies, etc., he states.

BHIVE also has the world's largest co-working campus, the BHIVE HSR Campus in Bengaluru. Inspired by Google, BHIVE created a world-class office space that offers additional amenities such as cricket, football, basketball, gym, etc., beyond just office spaces. BHIVE also organises a lot of startup-related events, seminars, networking, investor meets and mentorship programs that add value to the startup ecosystem, Shesh Paplikar states.

Sumit Agarwal, Co-Founder and CEO, of Simply Vyapar Apps Pvt Ltd stated, "Co-working spaces are always the first preference for any startup as it gives flexibility with customization whenever needed and secondly scalability. Having its own space means huge cash flow which otherwise can be utilised for business expansion.

“We started with 150 seats from Enzyme initially. The way they have curated the space keeping in mind our smallest of the requirements, makes the team unique in terms of delivering as committed. Ashish has been very supportive and accommodating in our journey of scaling from 150 to 1, 500 seats to date and more to come in future."

Natasha Gupta, Founder and CEO, Story Brews Communication, said, "Cost effective conveniences and flexibility are the key reasons why startups prefer co-working spaces over traditional office rentals. Since, as a startup, we have a hybrid work model in place and we operate in a fast-paced environment, a co-working set-up is not only a great enabler but also provides the right platform to connect, collaborate and be productive."

"These workspaces offer a one-stop solution with tech-enabled meeting rooms, clean work areas, fresh coffee, housekeeping, etc., the primary things which startups need to function and operate daily. Over and above the co-working spaces are melting pots of like-minded people that create a perfect atmosphere for startups to network, " Natasha Gupta says.

"Besides, startups like us, who operate with a lean team, find the tailor-made and customization features of co-working beneficial since we get the freedom of choosing the exact number of seats we want, with the provision to expand at any given point in time.”

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