Startups are the flavour of the season. Increasing Internet and mobile penetration and availability of capital is enabling bright people with new ideas to start commercial ventures with a frequency, never seen before in India. Whenever a company starts operations, there is a need for office space. Even in the age of ‘work from home’, companies need office space for collaboration among employees, meetings with customers, vendors and other stakeholders. A prime office address also leaves a good impression on others. However, considering high real estate prices, renting and equipping an office in one of the prime locations in a city can be quite expensive.

In order to overcome this hurdle, the concept of plug-and-play office spaces is gaining popularity. Plug and Play offices considerably reduce capital expenditure, eliminating the need for buying office infrastructure such as tables, chairs, printers, scanners and light fixtures. Plug and Play offices enable startups to get started immediately, with all infrastructure in place from first day. Startups also get access to common facilities such as meeting rooms, conference rooms and cafeteria. Sharing such facilities significantly brings down costs. Finally, housekeeping and facility management activity such as maintenance can be completely outsourced to service provider, saving much time and hassle.

Companies providing plug and play office spaces take up large commercial spaces and develop interiors and other infrastructure. Subsequently, they invite companies to rent the space and begin operations immediately.

Companies renting out such spaces include commercial real-estate developers, business centre operators, hotels and government organizations.

Hotels are looking to derive value out of underused spaces in their properties. Typically, a section of the property is renovated as an office space. Leading hotels have an inherent advantage of being in prime locations and much of the associated infrastructure already being available in terms of parking, food and beverage operations and service staff. Hotels are able to generate steady rental income from such an arrangement.

Not only hotels, many governments are also actively looking at providing space for startups. Government organizations aim to encourage startups so that they could potentially provide high employment and tax revenues in the future. For instance, T-Hub in Hyderabad, which is a combined initiative by the government of Telangana, some key private sector leaders and premier educational institutions including NALSAR, IIT-H and ISB. T-Hub has been specifically designed for technology startups.

Some of the leading companies offering plug and play offices are:

Regus: http://www.regus.co.in/

Workafella: https://www.workafella.com/

91Springboard: http://www.91springboard.com/

Awfis: https://www.awfis.com/

Stirring Minds: http://www.stirringminds.com/

IKeva: https://www.ikeva.com/

There are aggregators and listing services which act as a marketplace for such plug and play offices. Some of them include Workspot (http://www.workspot.in/) and ShareDesk (https://www.sharedesk.net/).

Such coworking spaces typically have monthly pricing packages on a per desk basis, that either allow daily access or for a fixed number of days per month. Facilities typically include 24X7 access, office furniture, locked storage, high speed Internet, access to meeting rooms, correspondence management, access to printers and other devices, cafeteria, housekeeping and facilities management. Plans typically start at around Rs. 6,000 + taxes per person for full-time use and go up to Rs. 15,000 or so.

As large cities get bigger, once can imagine a scenario wherein knowledge workers travel to the nearest coworking office and collaborate online rather than travel long distances to a common office. Further, we can expect coworking spaces to emerge in small cities as well. It could allow knowledge workers to work from the place of their choice, like their home town.
The future looks bright!