Well-being will define the future of co-working space – Times of India

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Manas Mehrotra is Founder, 315Work Avenue.
The way we live and work has changed fundamentally in the post-pandemic world and office spaces have witnessed massive transformation. Co-working spaces have demonstrated that establishing a brand that focuses on wellness and overall well-being is now a key differentiator. There is a tight correlation between personal interactions, performance, and innovation, and innovators are building cathedrals reflecting this. With India’s co-working space market likely to cross 50 million square feet by 2023, work spaces designed for flexibility will be top of mind for people seeking productivity and work-life balance. Wellbeing has been considered as a driver of higher levels of productivity and means of solving the productivity puzzle. The flexibility to tailor the working day in pursuit of productivity and good health is no longer a dream. The pandemic has forced us to reconsider the way we work and those in position to make the change are seeking a connection between work and quality of life. High levels of stress can lead to burnout and reduced labour productivity, but training resilience has been shown to produce positive effects on well-being and productivity.
Employee wellbeing is the physical, mental, and emotional health of employees both in and outside of the workplace and is affected by relationships, communication, tasks, expectations, and the work environment. Maintaining a high level of employee wellbeing is not just about a healthy snack bar or gym, but goes beyond physical health – factors like mood, environment, leadership, and company culture. All of this determines productivity and co-working spaces go a long way in ensuring that well-being and productivity go together. Maintaining a holistic perspective is increasingly important now and companies are keen that employees are in a good frame of health while at work.
Wellness is the need of the hour
Wellness is now a unique selling point for workspaces and this has often meant certainly more than an exercise room or in-house gym, and a few potted plants. There is now a much more sincere commitment from companies to create positive, healthy workspaces, beyond multi-height desking or specialist task chairs designed for bad backs. To de-stigmatise mental health, wellness has worked its way into companies’ diversity and inclusion policies. This level of transformation requires vision, time and investment in a period when many businesses are re-evaluating the need for a permanent office at all. Naturally, the best co-working spaces have emerged as the biggest bet in this context. As per a report, 86 per cent employees working together reported a decrease in their sense of isolation and 83% reported that they trusted others in their co-working space. The whole endeavour now is to build social spaces that encourage greater interactions among different teams. An ideal workspace can enhance individual productivity and foster a collaborative environment.
The connect between productivity and work culture
While the pandemic has been challenging, there have been positive developments in terms of how we work with flexibility. Overall, while productivity is important, well-being has in fact been put ahead of it and will be a hallmark both in the present and future. Recognising the vital connection between productivity and well-being, employers are making provisions to make sure that employees have work-life balance. Modern co-working spaces are set amongst world-class health and wellbeing facilities which are now part of the new work culture. Certain environmental factors have been linked to both greater wellbeing and productivity like air quality, greenery etc. Ultimately, having the freedom to choose how we structure our working day has huge benefits to our overall well-being. The companies now have to strike a fine balance between work, creativity and play to always stay ahead of their game.
Betting big on inspiring workspaces
Work from home doesn’t hold the same attraction as it did during the pandemic. There is the need to collaborate with others, which may not be achievable while working from home. So, what does an ideal workspace look like now? The design factor, the greenery around, large open spaces and aesthetics go a long way in inspiring the professional class. We are living increasingly blended lives, but there is the need to differentiate and make a clear demarcation between work life and home to ensure higher productivity at work.
The automation of workspaces
The everyday requirement of social distancing has to be met by contactless and wireless technologies as Covid-19 has accelerated the digitalisation of workspaces. An innovative technology ecosystem provides flexible and on-demand places to support convenience, functionality, and well-being. Co-working companies have enabled comprehensive contactless technology and robotic technology that has attracted clients. The traditional desk will likely be non-existent in the near future, with wearable technology, artificial intelligence, machine learning and internet taking over co-working spaces that are transforming into autonomous workspaces. Smart access, meeting rooms and receptions have already have enabled cloud-based access system, facial recognition and real time security monitoring that are all now part of the culture of co-working spaces.
A recent report has validated the emergence of the hybrid work model as the future of Indian offices and 65 per cent of respondents were convinced of the high potential of hybrid or remote working in India. Currently, 46 per cent of India’s workforce comprises millennials who are looking for tech smart offices. They embrace collaboration opportunities and give a window to co-working players to expand. India is also home to 65 percent of the population under the age of 35 years who are seeking greater social engagement, well being and are looking for a vibrant work environment to be part of a large community of like-minded people. This has created an opportunity for spaces where innovation, community and collaboration are at the forefront of creating a new way of working, one focused on helping people find meaning in what they do.
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Views expressed above are the author’s own.
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