If we look at the evolutionary history of the workplace, we will cover much ground, all the way from the banalities of traditional offices to the convenience and customisability of co-working spaces.
The essential structure and fibre of any workplace are directly proportional to the quality of work that the employees of that office are able to achieve. The nature and form of workspaces have undergone a tremendous evolution over the years. The very word office brings to mind the stereotypical depictions of high-rise corporate structures devoid of charm and personality, or the derelict government spaces often dirty and unkempt, swathed with pale whitewash, overrun with ill-matched cupboards and awkward furniture, and a hundred dozen dusty files that resemble fossils. These descriptions, though still reflective of popular notions of workspaces, are not wholly true. In India, the definition of a workspace has changed radically over the years.
Traditionally, offices were only the centres of passive activity that merely dealt with the mundane business operations of a company. The owners of the firm rarely gave a thought to the work aspirations and aesthetic preferences of their workforce. These traditional workspaces were simply designed as per the wishes of the owners, who preferred a basic and obvious structure so as to get the work done at minimum cost and time. The nature of such workspaces clearly remained stagnant and unreceptive to the dynamic needs of the corporate universe, and its nucleus, the worker.
These outdated office systems had the advantage of being open to personal customisation. However, that would entail massive capital expenditure and needless added costs. The owners would have to take care of all the peripheral operations which would deter the enterprise from its basic and core functions.
Another visible drawback that was particular to these traditional businesses was the lack of general flexibility with respect to time, space and matter. Such rigidity in traditional businesses leads to an uninspired and lethargic workforce and that’s not good news.
In the evolutionary trajectory of modern workspaces, the traditional spaces soon gave way to the formidable and spectacular business centre. The basic features of these centres include greater flexibility and less capital expenditure, as compared to the traditional business spheres. The proprietors of these business centres rent out separate spaces and provide basic provisions and services that are essential towards running a company.
Though these business centres are relatively more flexible, they still suffer from a lack of creative customisation. Once furnished and allocated, an office in the business centre cannot be changed according to its tenant’s personal needs without the owner’s approval. Another disadvantage has to do with the limited reach of these business centres—all the operations and operatives of a said company are in a way confined to their particular floors or spaces, which hampers their freedom of movement.
Moving away from the myriad of business centres, we head to the next evolutionary chapter in the history of modern workplaces, namely the rise of coworking spaces. Coworking spaces essentially cater to a vast group of professionals, ranging from business proprietors and startup executives to freelancers. Professionals from varied backgrounds prefer operating through coworking spaces as they offer an opportunity for minimising their capital expenditure, and provide a vibrant ecosystem with greater networking possibilities.
Coworking spaces also guarantee the services as per the needs of the various companies that work and coexist in such spaces.
Disadvantages include a general lack of privacy, increased noise levels, and other forms of distractions when people interact in the common area. Also, one witnesses stiff competition and differences when the people in coworking spaces are not on the same page.
Security and safety are also among the other major concerns in a coworking space.
From the rise of coworking spaces we finally come to the actual trailblazers, the fully serviced, curated and managed offices. They offer the advantages of the entire evolutionary kaleidoscope of workplaces. The emergence of serviced office models can be attributed to the in-depth researching and development of workspace theories and development sciences, which have together contributed to this revolutionary model.
These fully serviced office modules offer countless benefits, including the freedom of flexibility as per the needs of the business. Also, the company is liable to zero capital expenditure and can concentrate solely on its core functions without any deviations or peripheral distractions.
It is an even better working ecosystem than the preceding ones in terms of vibrancy and productivity. Also, serviced offices are not limited by geographical hindrances, making movement easier. Security and privacy, the two desired factors for the running of any business, are upheld with the utmost success at such facilities, and these spaces can be customised to no end as per the wishes of the employer.
Therefore, it is safe to assume that the rise of fully serviced and managed offices is directly related to the plethora of perks that such a module offers. No wonder the serviced office sector is witnessing such a substantial boom in terms of socio-economic relevance and has caused major disruption in the business real estate sector. Imagine an office that breathes and lets you breathe, with ample space for recreation and rejuvenation. An office that is way cosier and homelier than home itself. Who wouldn’t want to be a part of such a thriving and sustainable professional ecosystem?
The author is co-founder, Skootr, a chain of managed offices and coworking spaces in India