As a designer of spaces, I must keep abreast not only of spatial and planning trends, but also major shifts in the landscape of the Indian workforce. I got a chance to do both as a panelist at the CE Worldwide Conference.
I was recently privy to an investment analysis deck, and I could relate it immediately with my work. I felt compelled to share it with my colleagues. The hypothesis laid out is that there are currently three demographic sections in India that dictate trends – and they are literally like three different Indias. Based on per capita income, they can be mapped to three world economies. India 1 is akin to Mexico, India 2 to Philippines, and India 3 to Sub-Saharan Africa.
|Income per capita|
|Percentage in the workforce|
(source: Sajith Pai, Blume Ventures <medium.com blog link>)
This sweep of the co-working spaces in India can also be attributed to three factors:As of today, the co-working space is largely dominated by the India 2 demographic. The great optimism and excitement in the India story stems from the trend that India 3 incomes are moving towards India 2 levels at a rapid pace. The timelines of this transformation aren’t measured in decades anymore, but in months. While this has far-reaching consequences, the specific impact on co-working is easily evident.
The access to bandwidth:
The sheer access to data is bound to make workspaces more flexible — what is being called the ‘Jio wave’, where every other person with a marketable skill or service can offer it to the world without a third party intervention. Co-working spaces especially cater to such individuals.
The inclusiveness of the Aadhar system:
The Prime Minister’s Jan-Dhan Yojna is bound to open up more avenues for India 3. Besides access to data, they will have access to funds that they can invest in running their own operations – thus fuelling the co-working economy.
The fiscal discipline followed by the Reserve Bank of India:
We don’t give our central bank enough credit for their mature and nuanced fiscal governance, which has made an invaluable contribution in controlling inflation and keeping opportunities open to the common man in India.
A lot of ‘pundits’ predicted that like some infrastructure fads, the co-working space too would die an eventual death. But this data-backed conclusion validates my own analysis that the co-working mode is here to stay. This doesn’t mean the death of the conventional office space. It just marks the beginning of an era of more flexible configurations where teams operate out of an array of workspace styles that best suit them. Businesses will just have to widen their repertoire, and be flexible to accommodate these choices.