A new world order requires new frameworks for businesses to operate in a post-Covid19 world. Our series on how companies are adapting to WFH, pivoting their business models, redefining business functions and processes, and more.
It is no secret that the coronavirus pandemic is majorly impacting industries across sectors. And the startup eco-system is no exception to it. The funded companies could survive this storm and keep up for the next few months. Startups or bootstrapped businesses, however, do not have this luxury unless they start taking measures to cut down on costs wherever possible.
One such measure is scrimping on space renting costs. The most elegant solution to saving on rent and optimising office space and utilities is switching to a coworking space or serviced office. When traditional offices remain shut due to the pandemic, companies leasing their space still have to pay a part of the rent if not the entire cost.
In some cases, rents are deducted from security deposits when companies default on making payments. These hassles are avoided when companies choose to work from coworking spaces, which offer benefit-driven features and services.
In view of the escalating pandemic situation, coworking space providers might bring down the rentals — a big plus over traditional leasers who show minimum flexibility in this area. Companies choosing co-working space would benefit more by saving on overhead costs (interior, electricity, maintenance, etc.) and also finding greater opportunities to network and increase business efficiently.
All things considered, key features and services that coworking space offer need not be restricted to provisions of table, chair, WiFi, and networking programs. Startups should be on the look-out for the following, once the pandemic starts to decline:
Pre-pandemic, the main criteria to shortlist a coworking space were location, interior, and price — the salient triangle. In the current situation, however, the triangle has morphed into a square to include a fourth, and equally important, criterion: Hygiene.
Startups should prefer offices that give hygiene a priority. Regular cleaning and ensuring provision of masks and hand sanitizers are both going to be of prime importance. An ideal case will be to prefer places pre-approved by a central third-party body, which ensures all hygiene and safety checks are met. Such spaces might also have quarantine rooms within their offices.
Choosing spaces that have adopted touchless technology to avoid any contagion intrusion. This might be accomplished by introducing automated doors, sensor-based lighting, and voice-activated lifts among others.
It will play a crucial role in selecting offices. (Social) distancing can be implemented by keeping ample space between workstations and by introducing partitions. Private cabins will be preferred as any potential risks can be deterred and minimized.
Startups that are successfully working from home will prefer this option. In a virtual office, the company gets the business address of an office at prime locations in addition to opting for reception services and conference rooms.
Companies should look for spaces where they can enter into a flexible contract with providers, allowing them a certain degree of control on the number of seats. The companies need only be paying for the seats they utilize and not for seats they might have initially committed to during the contract period. Such flexibility can help mitigate costs and improve chances of survival further.
No Deposit Offices
Coworking spaces that don’t require paying deposits will be preferred. Startup would benefit as there is zero money being held, allowing for liquidity for uncertain times like these.
Business Continuity Planning Centres
Those coworking providers should be given preference who give their occupants the option to use their multiple centres in different cities as a BCP centre.
Some coworking spaces, such as OfficeBing, are currently focussed on designing flexible spaces which are industry-specific. OfficeBing have tailored their office design and infrastructure to cater to industries including and not restricted to IT, ITeS, hospitality among others. The future spaces will cater to the specific needs of industries — which will stand as a differentiating factor.
Spaces that include activity zones and give importance to fitness, yoga, and meditation would be preferred.
A healthy office environment is one where everyone is able to maximise their work potential without having to compromise on safety. Offices that are able to incorporate measures listed above can result in improved productivity of employees, a clearer mindset, faster turn-around times, and increased overall efficiency.
A startup’s growth need not be locked down once after the country starts recovering from the coronavirus pandemic.