Forbes India 15th Anniversary Special

Futuristic Work Spaces to Complement Smart Cities

Published: Jun 12, 2018 07:12:30 AM IST
Updated: Jun 12, 2018 12:46:50 PM IST

According to a study by McKinsey Global Institute, Urban areas are expected to be home to 40% of India's population by 2030 and contribute 75% of the country’s GDP. In terms of absolute numbers, 590 million people will live in cities and 70% of net new employment will be generated in cities by then.

The report also suggests, “The choices that India makes to manage the process of its urbanization will have profound consequences for its people and its economic future.” The underlying implication is that a comprehensive development of physical, institutional, social and economic infrastructure must emerge for these cities to be great places to live and work in.

The Smart Cities Mission, which was initiated by the government in 2015, envisaged 100 smart cities emerging across the country. The crux of this mission is to create model centres, each based on a unique area development plan, which offers citizens a decent quality of life that is clean, environmentally sustainable and technically facilitating, through the application of 'smart' solutions.

Interestingly, the definition of urban areas, according to the census of India, are locations where the population is over 5,000 and the density of this population is more than 400 persons per square kilometre, amongst other criteria such as 75% of male workers are employed in in non-agricultural activities. This works out to a rather restrictive maximum of 2500 square meters per person on an average, in which public utilities like roads, parks, schools as well as residences and work places have to be factored in. Fortunately, with out-of-the-box thinking and creative space management, it does not necessarily mean these cities will be congested.

Amongst a host of modern urban work-life models that have emerged to decongest cities – such as mixed development, traffic management, etc.  – the culture of ‘shared work spaces’ is burgeoning. This format is gaining in popularity, not just in India but across the globe, due to a number of factors such as ready-to-use infrastructure, opportunities to networking, flexibility and convenience at the work-place, sky-rocketing of commercial real estate prices and the growing attraction to unconventional office settings, even by large, established enterprises. According to industry predictions, the shared workspace sector will receive investments worth USD 400 million by 2018. CBRE suggests that shared workspaces in India are expected to reach 10 million sq. ft. by 2020 and even overtake traditional format offices.

WeWork presents perfect solutions for workspaces in the Indian cities of tomorrow. “We provide our members with high-quality and world-class spaces, using technology to create an environment that utilises space more efficiently and encourages collaboration by bringing like-minded and passionate people together,” explains Karan Virwani, CWeO, WeWork India.

Founded in 2010 by Adam Neumann and Miguel McKelvey in New York, WeWork currently has 274 offices in 74 cities and 22 countries around the world. Like its international parent, WeWork India crafts community models which facilitate both start-ups and the corporate sector alike, by transforming buildings into dynamic environments for creativity, focus and collaboration. More than just a new way of working this solution is a movement toward a new way of living.

Of course, these models are also perfectly applicable to the current metro titans – Mumbai, Bengaluru, Pune, Chennai and Hyderabad and Delhi-NCR – which are looking for retro-fitting that will launch them into the future more seamlessly, while tackling the problem of congested or inefficiently utilized work spaces.

Another motivation for creative, conducive and efficient work spaces is the wave of innovative disruption that has overtaken many industries, giving rise to asset-light start-ups and re-modelled corporate structures. These modern businesses seek out democratised co-working spaces which offer salubrious experiences.

The value proposition for our community is available to enterprise companies as well, beyond world-class space, flexibility and a large range of business services, lies in WeWork ’s community. With leading venture capitalists and large enterprises as part of its community of 256,000 members globally, it gives start-ups easy access to capital and strategic opportunities to help grow their businesses as such spaces foster collaboration and encourage inclusive growth. WeWork uses technology (Member Network on app) to enable people to connect and collaborate more efficiently. There are relevant events and engagements that give start-ups the opportunity for positive leverage.

Large enterprises also have plenty to gain as WeWork tends to be a more cost-effective alternative to traditional real estate. “But beyond that, large enterprises come to us for energy: we help them enrich their culture, enhance employee satisfaction and improve retention,” suggests Karan Virwani. In fact, in India, close to 45% of WeWork’s members are enterprises. They not only benefit from more efficiently designed real estate but enjoy a more flexible and asset light option that helps them stay nimble.

WeWork believes that while space may be limited, ideas are not. And accordingly, their mission is to create a world where people work to make a life, not just a living. “WeWork is redefining success as measured by personal fulfilment, not just the bottom line. There has been a macro shift toward a new way of work — one focused on a movement towards meaning,” concludes Karan Virwani.
Source: Karan Virwani Quotes from