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‘2020 has been a game-changer for the shared workspaces’

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Sumit Lakhani, Chief Marketing Officer, Awfis, shares insights on adapting to consumer needs, evolving into an integrating workspace solution provider, and more

‘Work From Home’ became one of the buzz words in the last year when a majority of workspaces were closed due to the pandemic. With most organisations operating from home, the co-working sector also saw a decline in business in the initial phase of the lockdown. However, most co-working spaces adapted and upgraded with the changing needs of the consumers and bounced back. According to Sumit Lakhani, Chief Marketing Officer, Awfis, the pandemic exposed the sector to an unforeseen situation where uncertainty was the norm and brands had to stay resilient and adapt to be relevant. He says “We are working closely with our clients to craft a workplace strategy that suits their evolving needs. Companies and individuals are increasingly seeing the benefits of working near home and are partnering with us for sustainable solutions to enable distributed workspaces.”

In the new normal of work from home (WFH), many organisations gave up their leased office spaces to optimize costs and resources. Talking about the impact of WFH on Awfis’ business, Lakhani says “2020 has been a game-changer for the shared workspaces as companies revaluated their real estate portfolio to save on cost and focus on the health and well-being of their employees. Since May 2020, individuals started returning to our centres as most Indian homes are not fully equipped to support the WFH regime. We experienced a strong uptake in demand from large corporates and SMEs, as companies opted for a hybrid model of working to provide their employees with the ideal office infrastructure and environment. This demand has been increasing month-on-month and our centres are running at optimum capacities.”

 

Shared office spaces like Awfis are also moving beyond being just co-working spaces to offer a more evolved and holistic offering. In fact, for the past few years, Awfis has been striving to become a fully integrated workspace solutions platform catering to the entire spectrum of work requirements. Lakhani explains, “We believe that one size does not fit all and everyone has a unique style of working. We are constantly innovating and leveraging our existing capabilities to enhance our offerings to suit the dynamic environment and consumer preference. We are catering to the entire spectrum of work requirements from Enterprise workspace solutions to facility management, design + build solutions and work from home solution. Our offerings include Awfis Enterprise Solutions, Awfis Coworking, Awfis Remote Working Solutions which enable professionals to work seamlessly from anywhere, WFH packaged solution Awfis@Home among many other solutions.”

 

Lakhani adds “We are able to offer an array of products because of our strong foothold in the Indian workspace ecosystem and being backed by a deep understanding of Indian officegoers. When we marry these two, we get a marketing strategy that targets the right audiences at the right moment in their buying journey. Our strategy is to not only focus on having the right marketing mix but also to focus on customer experience, as we believe that it gives exponential results in the form of customer lifetime value. When we transitioned from being a pure-play co-working company to also catering to large enterprises for managed office requirements, our marketing approach shifted from B2C to B2B. Now with our awfis@home e-commerce platform, we are also in the D2C space. The key challenge is to be able to differentiate and craft customized strategies for each customer category.”

Apart from evolving into an integrated solutions provider, Awfis has also collaborated with the property development entity, Prestige group to come up with six new co-working spaces. Lakhani says “This revenue sharing strategic alliance leverages Prestige Group’s and Awfis’ respective strengths, expertise and capabilities to create compelling value for both companies and their discerning customers. Through this collaboration, Awfis is offering over 2 lakh sq. feet of Grade-A flex office spaces within Prestige Group’s premium commercial properties in Bangalore, Chennai, and Hyderabad covering a total capacity of over 4,000 seats. The spaces being transacted are a combination of first-generation and second-generation spaces.” He adds that Awfis is open to collaborating with other brands in the future to nurture the spirit of innovation and grow in the flexible workspace sector.

Awfis has a stringent protocol in place to ensure the safety of the and Lakhani explains, “We have redesigned our existing floor plan to ensure that every workstation has the stipulated six feet distance from each other, and increased the heights of already existing partitions that limits contact with another individual. We also introduced a tech-enabled app that completely eliminates the need for any surface contact. This is integrated with the Arogya Setu app and through this app, one can mark their attendance and also order food and beverages right to their desk to minimize human interaction. The capacity of our existing meeting rooms has been halved and we’ve tagged seats to ensure alternate seating arrangement. We have also ensured an adaptable floor layout at our new centres, which can be easily modified to the needs and requirements of community members in the future.”

Commenting on how Awfis aims to solidify its new proposition and keep the messaging coherent, Lakhani says that Awfis will continue to be the umbrella brand under which all the products and services will reside. He further shares, “Our strategy is to follow a consistent brand language across all our product offerings while still keeping the messaging customer-centric, customized and addressing specific needs. Over the years, we’ve earned the reputation of being a reliable, resilient, value-driven and customer-focused brand and we plan to translate the same identity across all our products with the promise of consistent quality and value to all our customers.”

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Ritika Raj

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