Flex workplaces continue to gain demand in the Indian market
Bengaluru is the leader with 34% of the overall flex stock
Mumbai, 07 December 2021: India flex space is expected to see major expansion in Tier-II cities in coming years. According to JLL- Awfis Report titled “Flex your Workplace” released today, and its survey findings, 48% of respondents/occupiers who already have a presence in Tier-II cities want to further expand. Not just that, 78 % of these occupiers are expected to expand within the next one year, with 84% wanting to utilise flex spaces. The story is almost similar for players who do not yet have a presence in Tier II cities. Even among those who did not have a Tier-II city office footprint, 34% of companies had employees working from Tier II locations in the current scenario. While 47% of the respondents had a presence in Tier-II cities, one-third of those were medium to large companies with employee strength of 3000 or more. Increasingly, domestic tech firms who are targeting the interiors and cities/towns beyond the metros for business expansion opportunities are looking to create regional offices. Such growth plans will need flex operators as they will become the enablers for providing quality workspaces with quick turnaround times for such organisations.
“Times have changed, so have offices. Today’s offices are more flexible and can accommodate the changing needs of their employees. Going flex or hybrid is one way to ensure that talent stays. Through the pandemic, flex has remained resilient. Given the new on-ground realities, it’s now a crucial part of occupier real estate strategies. While 75% of the flex portfolio, on average, is still in Tier-I cities, the hybrid model is fostering the growth of flex operators in Tier-II cities as well. We expect demand for flex spaces to continue to rise in the metros, and the Tier-II cities will witness tremendous growth. Driven by reverse migration, focus on talent across regions and cost of living, the Tier-II market is perfectly poised to witness a significant upswing in hybrid workplaces,” said Radha Dhir, CEO and Country Head, India, JLL.
Large enterprises have accounted for 50% of the demand for flex seats in the last couple of years. This demand driver will be key to the market’s continued growth as enterprises look towards portfolio optimization due to changing employee needs which are driven by flexibility in work patterns.
The average lease size for flex operators has been in a steady range of between 52,000-56,000 sq. ft over the past four years. While leasing volumes tapered off in 2020 and 2021, enterprise-led flex deals ensured that transaction sizes of flex operators remained within range. The average deal sizes for enterprise providers were 15-20% higher than the overall average.
Tier 2 cities on the radar(Based on the frequency analysis of cities chosen by those definitely and maybe looking to expandto tier 2 cities in the future)
*Indore, Guwahati, Ranchi most prefferred; Bhopal, Raipur, Vizag, Mysore, Vijaywada, Tirupati and Hubli also in the list.
Source : JLL-AWFIS Occupier Surver
“India’s flex space footprint across the top seven cities has grown by 525% over the past five years and now stands at 38 million sq. ft with operational flex seats exceeding 550,000. Even during COVID, while 5 million sq. ft of flex space was closed, the segment has reinvented itself and the growth is now being fuelled by enterprise demand for managed workspaces,” said Dr Samantak Das, Chief Economist and Head of Research & REIS (India), JLL. “Our survey results also show that Tier II cities are gaining momentum with occupiers looking to enhance their presence, given the business opportunity in the interiors and talent availability in these cities with the reverse migration seen post COVID,” he added.
These drivers will push occupiers towards expanding in Tier-II cities and flex space operators will become key enablers given their experience in setting up quality workspaces which will support the hybrid work continuum for occupiers across all segments.
Flexible workspace - average lease size
Source : Real Estate Intelligence Service (REIS) , JLL Research
The total flex stock is at 38 million sq ft which includes over 5,50,000 operational seats. Among the top 7 cities, Bengaluru is the clear leader accounting for 34% of the total flex stock. Large enterprise deals, over 1000 seats, account for about 36% of total market activity since 2020.
The current flex market penetration in total office stock of top seven cities stands at 3.5%. India’s average penetration rate for the top seven cities could reach around the 4.0-4.5% mark over the next two years. This will largely be driven by Bengaluru which is already at par with more mature markets with a 5% penetration rate and other gateway cities like Mumbai and NCR which have witnessed healthy growth. Other metros like Pune and Hyderabad will also see remarkable growth in coming years.
With COVID being the chief reason, 2020 saw only 4.4 million sq. ft added to the flex stock, down by 58% in terms of activity levels. Adding to it the second wave in 2021 also impacted the market and it will close out on similar number as of 2020. However, the growth plans seen over the past two quarters, bode well for the sector’s growth going forward. The share of flex space in total Grade A office space leasing in the top 7 cities in 2019 hit a high of 16%, a year of historic highs for the Indian office markets. It dipped to 9% in 2020, before reaching 13% again in the first three quarters of 2021, though the absolute numbers remain off the previous highs.
“For a variety of motivations including the need for shorter leases, an ever more mobile workforce and greater caution by companies in making capital expenditures, tenants are increasingly requiring flexibility in lease terms, especially as they await greater clarity in business conditions and workplace strategies. With the pandemic exacerbating uncertainty, tenant sentiment now indicates that flexible space adoption is set to accelerate substantially as demand shifts from fixed long-term commitments to more agile and hybrid options. This shift toward greater flexible space requirements is seen as a structural trend and not just in response to the pandemic, and landlords will need to adapt to tenant demands for increased flexibility. Moving forward, flexible workspace is likely to grow from a low proportion of the overall market to a critical and mainstream element of commercial real estate,” said Amit Ramani, Founder and CEO, Awfis.
The events of the past 24 months have had a seminal impact on the way we will live, work and play. The silent change revolution currently ongoing in the workplace and driven by employees exercising their choice will direct the course of the flex space market as well. With occupiers looking at their real estate portfolios in terms of cost optimisation but also integrating greater tech and sustainability features, flex spaces will also keep pace with such demands. Flex operators who have achieved scale and adequate funding will be at the forefront of driving portfolio synergies for both occupiers and landlords going forward.
JLL (NYSE: JLL) is a leading professional services firm that specializes in real estate and investment management. JLL shapes the future of real estate for a better world by using the most advanced technology to create rewarding opportunities, amazing spaces and sustainable real estate solutions for our clients, our people and our communities. JLL is a Fortune 500 company with annual revenue of $16.6 billion in 2020, operations in over 80 countries and a global workforce of more than 95,000 as of September 30, 2021. JLL is the brand name, and a registered trademark, of Jones Lang LaSalle Incorporated. For further information, visit jll.com.
JLL is India’s premier and largest professional services firm specialising in real estate. The Firm has grown from strength to strength in India for the past two decades. JLL India has an extensive presence across 10 major cities (Mumbai, Delhi NCR, Bengaluru, Pune, Chennai, Hyderabad, Kolkata, Ahmedabad, Kochi and Coimbatore) and over 130 tier-II and III markets with a cumulative strength of close to 12,000 professionals. The Firm provides investors, developers, local corporates and multinational companies with a comprehensive range of services. These include leasing, capital markets, research & advisory, transaction management, project development, facility management and property & asset management. These services cover various asset classes such as commercial, industrial, warehouse and logistics, data centres, residential, retail, hospitality, healthcare, senior living, and education. For further information, please visit jll.co.in.
Awfis Space Solutions Pvt. Ltd. Or ‘Awfis’ is a fully tech-enabled and integrated workspace solutions platform that provides products across the spectrum of work requirements including Flex Workspaces, Enterprise Workspace Solutions, Design & Build Solution (Awfis Transform), Integrated Facility Management (Awfis Care), Remote Working Solutions (Awfis Now) & Work From Home Solution (Awfis@Home) as well as an online office furniture DTC platform https://shop.awfis.com/. Awfis currently has the largest network of flex workspaces with 100 centres and 61,000 seats across 13 cities. Awfis is redefining how work gets done in the current business environment, by providing an ecosystem of futuristic & inspiring workspaces for start-ups, SMEs and corporates alike for their changing business needs. As a leader in the arena, Awfis is fully equipped to cater to the evolving needs of large scale enterprises and organizations while aligning to the workspace needs of India inc. amidst the new normal. For more information, please visit www.awfis.com