Flex Spaces, Hybrid Work, and Sustainability Shaping India’s Commercial Real Estate Market-2023 Outlook

Chahna Baksani
Chahna Baksani
Chahna Baksani is the Social Media Manager as well as a Content Writer at The Address. If you ever happen to visit The Address' Ahmedabad offices, do not miss to stop by and say Hi to her.

In the year 2023, the commercial real estate sector is poised to embrace three pivotal themes, as highlighted in the ‘Real Estate Outlook for 2023’ report by renowned real estate consultancy Colliers.

There was a cautious start to the year, thanks to global recessionary pressures and slowdowns. But guess what? Defying prevailing economic concerns, the commercial real estate realm flexed its muscles in 2022 and showed off some robust performance.

Turning our attention to the outlook for 2023, the Asia-Pacific (APAC) region exhibits a degree of resilience, with numerous opportunities on the real estate horizon.

The defining keywords in this sector for the year ahead will undoubtedly revolve around three core themes: ‘Flexibility,’ ‘Hybrid Working,’ and ‘Sustainability.’

These themes will play a pivotal role in shaping the discourse and developments within the commercial real estate industry in 2023.

The Flex Space Revolution

Flex spaces have become mainstream in India’s real estate landscape. As of FY 2023, the operational flex space footprint spans a substantial 53 million square feet, marking an astounding 400% growth since 2018.

At present, two key players dominate the flex space scene in India. Bengaluru and Delhi NCR collectively account for over 50% of the flexible office space stock in the country.

Bengaluru, in particular, takes the lead with a staggering 10.6 million square feet of flexible workspace, followed by Hyderabad with 4.5 million square feet and Mumbai with 4.3 million square feet.

Several factors, including robust demand, attractive profitability, and appealing returns for investors, drive this surge.

Looking ahead, JLL- Smartworks Occupier Survey anticipates this trend to double over the next five years, reaching approximately 106 million sq ft.

The evolution of the flex sector has been a tale of two distinct phases. Before the pandemic, we saw a proliferation of coworking offices, flexi, and dedicated desks with a growing emphasis on custom solutions for enterprises.

However, the post-COVID era has ushered in a complete transformation. Operators offering managed, serviced, and private office spaces have been key drivers in flex space growth.

Enterprises, regardless of their origin, size, or industry segment, have embraced flex space solutions across India. Flex spaces are now the go-to for flagship offices, high-end R&D teams, and critical business functions.

What initially propelled the flex space market into the spotlight continues to shape its future. The focus on using workplaces to bolster productivity and foster dynamic work cultures remains pivotal.

Likewise, the growing focus on employee health and well-being remains a driving force, steering the evolution of workspaces in India.

Consequently, developers and landlords who don’t plan for flex spaces now may face challenges as we move towards the future of offices.

What’s The Impact of Flex Space Growth on the Commercial Real Estate Market (CRE)

New Mindset

To tap into the rising demand for flex space, property owners must allocate sections within their current properties. Flex space users often require the flexibility to expand or downsize as needed. Hence, the physical layout should be carefully planned to facilitate these changes with minimal expenses and construction time.

Increased Portfolio Diversification

The surge in flex spaces provides developers and investors with a golden opportunity to diversify their portfolios. Traditionally, real estate portfolios consisted largely of conventional office spaces. However, the rise of flex spaces introduces a new asset class, adding a layer of diversification that can mitigate risk and enhance overall portfolio performance.

Meeting Evolving Tenant Expectations

Today’s tenants, whether startups, SMEs, or large corporations, increasingly seek flexibility and agility in their office space arrangements. Flex spaces are designed to meet these evolving expectations, offering lease terms that range from short to long, scalability, and fully-equipped spaces. This aligns perfectly with the requirements of modern tenants, making flex spaces an attractive option.

Accelerating Market Competition

As flex spaces become more prevalent, traditional office space providers are compelled to adapt. This has sparked healthy competition within the market, driving innovation and improvements in the quality of office space offerings. In turn, tenants benefit from a wider range of choices and higher-quality spaces.

Enhanced Value Proposition

The growth of flex spaces has forced the commercial real estate market to reevaluate its value proposition. Beyond square footage and location, the focus has shifted to providing holistic solutions that enhance tenant satisfaction. This includes amenities, technology integration, and the flexibility to cater to various business needs.

Adaptation to Economic Uncertainties

Flex spaces are particularly appealing in times of economic uncertainty. Businesses can avoid the burden of long-term leases and the associated risks. This adaptability to economic fluctuations makes flex spaces a resilient choice, both for occupiers and investors.

Hybrid Work Making Workspaces More Consumer-Centric

In the ‘2022 India Office Occupier Survey‘ conducted by real estate consulting firm CBRE, it was found that around 73% of Indian companies are currently in the process of assessing hybrid work arrangements for their future operations. Clearly, even as things regain a sense of normalcy, the hybrid work model stands firm.

Image Source: CBRE

While the recent trends of returning to offices may lead to a collective push, encouraging employees to return, the reality is that the office environment has undergone lasting changes.

Flex space and co-working are emerging as substantial components of the evolving office landscape, adopting hybrid work models. This shift extends beyond startups and freelancers; now, even large enterprises are seeking flexible office solutions.

Landlords must pivot accordingly, as the demand for flex space and co-working is set to continue its ascent. Those who need more time to develop strategies for these offerings may find themselves scrambling to catch up with the evolving trends of hybrid workspaces.

What’s The Impact of Hybrid Workforces on CRE Market

Office Space Optimisation

Property owners are reevaluating their real estate portfolios, aiming to optimize space usage. This includes downsizing traditional office footprints and reallocating resources to create collaborative, tech-equipped, and comfortable work environments.

Better Equipped Spaces

As physical office spaces are being underutilized, many businesses are contemplating office upgrades. This includes adding new amenities, improving workspace features, and even opting for more convenient office locations.

These enhancements may include a well-equipped cafeteria, in-house gym facilities, ergonomic seating, and more. All are aimed at creating a flexible and amenity-rich modern workplace that encourages employees to return to the office more frequently.

Rethinking Location Strategy

Hybrid workforces are prompting a reconsideration of location strategies. Businesses are no longer tethered to central business districts, and suburban and flexible locations are gaining prominence. This shift is altering the dynamics of property markets, with suburban and secondary markets witnessing increased demand.

Challenges for Traditional Office Spaces

Traditional office spaces, especially those without the flexibility to accommodate changing needs, face challenges in this new landscape. CRE stakeholders must innovate to remain competitive and relevant.

Sustainability in Commercial Real Estate

India’s commercial real estate (CRE) sector plays a substantial role in the country’s carbon footprint, accounting for a significant share of energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions.

Over the past few years, the real estate sector has witnessed a profound shift towards sustainable construction methods. Fueled by a heightened awareness of environmental issues and a demand for energy-efficient solutions, eco-friendly buildings are redefining the very notion of real estate value.

Sustainable commercial construction extends beyond merely reducing a building’s carbon footprint. It involves a comprehensive sustainability approach that takes into account energy efficiency, water conservation, waste reduction, and the overall well-being of its occupants.

Explore The Address’s sustainable practices as a premium coworking provider here.

What’s The Impact of Sustainability on CRE Market

Enhanced Tenant Attraction and Retention

Businesses are keen to occupy eco-friendly office spaces that align with their corporate social responsibility goals. As a result, landlords and developers are investing in green building practices to attract and retain tenants who are eco-conscious. 

Rising Value of Sustainable Properties

Buildings with high energy efficiency ratings, green certifications, and environmentally conscious features tend to command higher rents and resale values. Earning external endorsements and certificates like LEED, BREEAM, EDGE, etc., can be a lucrative proposition for property owners. 

Regulatory Influence

Government regulations and policies are placing a growing emphasis on sustainability in construction and property management. Compliance with these regulations is not only essential but can also lead to cost savings and tax incentives for building owners who invest in sustainable practices.

Future-Proofing Investments

Investors and developers are increasingly recognizing the importance of future-proofing their real estate investments. Sustainable properties tend to be more resilient to climate change and evolving market preferences, making them a wise choice for long-term value.

The Intersection of Flexibility, Hybrid Work, and Sustainability- The Address

The interplay of flexibility, hybrid work, and sustainability is rewriting the narrative of the commercial real estate landscape, and guess what? Who is leading the way?

That’s right. Coworking spaces.

Modern coworking spaces are not only flexible but also eco-conscious. They are tailor-made for the future of work, aligning seamlessly with the trends of hybrid work and sustainability.

Leading the charge in this transformation is The Address. As an innovative and forward-thinking coworking space, we’ve fully embraced the synergy of flexibility, hybrid work, and sustainability.

Our spaces are thoughtfully designed to cater to the diverse needs of today’s workforce, whether you’re a solo professional, a startup, or a large corporation. At The Address, flexibility and sustainability go hand in hand. We’re committed to eco-friendly practices, evident in every detail, from energy-efficient lighting to sustainable materials.

In the era of hybrid work, we understand the significance of creating an environment that fosters productivity and collaboration. Our coworking spaces feature cutting-edge amenities, state-of-the-art technology, and ergonomic designs, ensuring you have the ideal workspace, whether you’re working solo or with a team.

Curious to experience the future of work firsthand? Let us take you on a tour of our premium coworking spaces. Click below to arrange your visit today!