A recent report by Cushman & Wakefield (C&W) says that the demand for flexible workspaces in India is estimated to jump five times by 2025 to 130-140 million sq ft, accounting for one-third of global co-working inventory. The user base for these flexible workspaces is expected to jump 10 times to nearly 3 million by 2025 as well.
Betting on this demand, WeWork India is expanding its presence across the country by focusing on being more than just a co-working space. After opening over 10,000 desks in 2019, Karan Virwani, CEO, WeWork India says that they are looking at disrupting traditional real estate and offering our members a unique and flexible working experience.
WeWork India wants to be different from other co-working spaces in India by reducing the complexity of leasing real estate to a simplified membership model by being a space-as-a-service platform.
The company is also betting big on technology to give it an advantage over other players.
“Technology is used to create a blueprint for optimal office design, and we use it to learn about how our spaces are used by our members. We also use data-driven insights to understand member usage and then design our spaces to encourage collaboration,” Varun Gopinath, Head of Sales at WeWork India says, adding that WeWork India also gives members access to a global community.
And speaking of going beyond being just a co-working space, Varun says that co-working is no longer seen as suitable only for start-ups and SMEs. Large enterprises are one of the fastest-growing categories at WeWork India constituting 50% of the member base.
“WeWork solves the real estate needs of enterprises by offering flexibility, keeping them asset-light and also helping enrich their culture which leads to enhanced employee satisfaction, improved employee attraction & retention,” he says.
Apart from this, WeWork in India also has Labs that act as hubs for early stage startups.
“WeWork Labs is the only program to work with entrepreneurs through their entire journey building a startup, from ideation to pre-accelerator to post-accelerator. It provides members with the space, investment, platform as well as physical and educational resources required to grow a business. It is also worth knowing that large corporations are looking to create an environment that attracts and retains top talent. They choose to join us not only because of the cost benefits attached but also because of the networking opportunities we provide and the overall vibe of the place,” Varun says.
These factors, he claims, have led to significant growth in its enterprise member base with top players across BFSI, Technology, E-commerce, and OTT players using its workspaces across the country.
WeWork India’s aggressive expansion plans come at a time when its global arm is undergoing massive restructuring post a shelved initial public offering (IPO), the departure of its co-founder Adam Neuman and a massive layoff that took place globally.
However, in India, WeWork runs on partnership with the Embassy Group and is independent of the global valuation.
“We have been running the WeWork India business as a separate entity. Since then, we have continuously strived to grow the India business and are focused on a strategic expansion plan with primary focus on profitability. We are deeply rooted in the commercial business space and with Embassy having a track record of 30 years of building the real estate business in India, we are certain that we will continue to grow,” Karan says.
Since its entry into India in 2017, WeWork India has expanded to over 40,000 members across 34 locations in six key cities and has leased a total of over 4.45 million square feet of space which houses over 57,000 desks. WeWork India claims to have attained operational profitability at a portfolio level in two years of operations.
“We will continue to focus on signing new lease agreements with landlord partners across the country and aim to expand at a similar pace this year as well,” Karan adds.