Revamping strategies for co-working spaces in a post-COVID world
No industry has been spared from the impact of COVID-19, and organisations that were agile and prompt to respond have been able to bounce back. Those that approached this as an opportunity to come out with what was important for them and their customers and thereby re-imagine their offerings and approaches in accordance have benefitted and, in fact, made themselves future ready for the new reality. While India has been gradually taking up to the idea of co-working spaces, the pandemic-precipitated need for social distancing restricted people to the confines of their homes. While this could have been a huge blow to coworking spaces that thrive on a sense of community and collaboration with customers across diverse sectors, the industry and players like us used this to accelerate ourevolutioninto an integrated workspace solutions provider besides also re-calibrating our strategies for our audiences.
From his experience at Awfis as its Chief Marketing Officer, Sumit Lakhani highlights some of the aspects that helped the co-working space navigate and come out stronger post COVID.
Feel the pulse of your customer, and innovate:
Understanding the exact pain points of your clients, and offering them a solution that addresses that or adds meaningful value to their livesis critical, especially during times like these when customers are looking for a way around the limitations they are faced with. Given that people weren’t able to head outdoors to workspaces through the lockdown, simple product offerings like our Awfis@Home solution that provided people with the requisite tools to seamlessly work out of their homes, were a runaway success. This simple yet innovative offering has today assured many companies and their workforces to continue to work remotely without impacting productivity. Similarly, the co-working sector also identified the need gap that existed for physical workspaces that were safe and convenient for the workforce to travel to, and came in as a ready fix to corporates by offering their huge network of coworking spaces to facilitate work near home for their employees.
Create win-win solutions:
Strategies like offering deep discounts may attract eyeballs, but are they really sustainable in the long run? Crafting mutually beneficial solutions that are also sound from a business point of viewas an approach adds value to both the seller and buyer in addition to being sustainable. To give you an example, even though a large part of the workforce was operating from home, companies had to continue paying hefty rents for spaces that were completely vacant or underutilised. This dilemma gave rise to the genesis of a new model that we came to offer, called Powered by Awfis. As part of this, organisations could collaborate with us to convert their unutilised workspaces into flex workspaces that would be operated by us, with revenues being shared by both. Therefore, a win for the client in terms of cost optimisation and an added revenue source as well as for us in terms of additional footprint to our network of co-working spaces.
Keeping the community alive:
As mentioned earlier, community is a large part of the co-working culture. And in no way could we let this integral component die down due to COVID. It is essential to remember that social distancing does not imply customer distancing. And therefore, while community-focused initiatives in person weren’t an option, it gave us an opportunity to take this engagement online through a steady stream of virtual events like knowledge-sharing sessions. What’s great is that now we could access a wider pool of our customers all at once and not just those physically present at a particular coworking space. Given the budget constraints due to the economic scenario, we also had to be frugal yet consistent in our outreach to customers. Some of the approaches that worked during these times include the delivery of relevant and regular information through social media and professional networking platforms as well as the use of niche influencers like those well connected in the entrepreneur ecosystem to experiment with and speak for our products to our exact audiences instead of going mainstream.
To sum it up, I’d say, in times like these, it is important for marketers to see the silver lining and the opportunities that come out of such events rather than the cons. Tools that are insightful, impactful and sustainablewill help stay future ready and always in line with the times.