2019 saw India record the highest-ever demand for office spaces in the metros and other commercial centers, headed by steady growth in demand for co-working spaces, led by tech companies. This led to predominant speculation that 2020 would usher in an era of record-breaking growth for office space.
However, the outbreak of the coronavirus in March followed by a nationwide lockdown had an unprecedentedly enormous impact on commerce. With everything being shut down, businesses came to a standstill, which further led to a substantial slowdown of the economy.
The trend continued even after the country gradually started to open up. With many organizations extending the work from home option till March 31, 2021, the work from home has become the new norm for business. As employees themselves not being very confident given the public transport situation in the country, the demand for office dropped drastically compared to the previous year.
However, after the dip in net office absorption in June - September quarter, it started improving gradually reinforcing the belief that despite the constraints owing to the pandemic, the need for physical offices will never wither away. Expert opinions also support this due to some very fundamental reasons, impossible to replicate at home. Things such as the casual collaboration that happens in an office in the form of brainstorming or teamwork—bouncing ideas off co-workers, leading to undoubtedly more creative solutions. This also reduces the feeling of isolation one experiences working alone from home. Moreover, working from the office allows one to mentally detach, enabling one to leave work at work, impossible, when one’s office is literally down the hall from the bedroom.
Of course, hygiene will surmount everything in a post-COVID world with companies ensuring regular sanitization of their premises. Moreover, blueprints have to be redrawn while redesigning the new workplaces keeping social distancing norms in mind. Details such as entry points, vigilance and air-conditioning et al will have to be figured in when considering new projects or restructuring existing ones.
Although things may look dismal at the moment, the near future trends show that demand for office spaces in India shall bounce back and be stronger than ever, supported by access to the vaccine in the coming months.