This resulted in over 214,000 flexible office seats distributed over 15,000 unique leads in major Tier I and II cities across India. In terms of space, with one flexible office seat occupying an average leasable area of 70 square feet, that translates to nearly 15 million square feet, according to analysis by JLL India-Qdesq. Over 90,200 flexible office spaces were rented by occupiers in the top 7 cities during the year, representing a 2.5x year-on-year growth.
This suggests that demand for flexible space has increased significantly over the past 12 months, driven by companies looking to adopt a more agile real estate portfolio strategy in an evolving hybrid work environment. Interestingly, the average transaction size has also increased by around 27% in 2021-22 to an average of 14 seats. Over 62% of the spaces processed were occupied via the managed route, where the flexible office operator curated the entire flexible workspace according to the needs of the tenants.
This outlines how flex is changing from a purely coworking facility to a concept with more private offices and managed spaces, in line with the demands of the market. This is also confirmed by seat requests, which show a higher demand for individual offices at 43% compared to coworking facilities at 39%. The four largest cities — Delhi-NCR, Bangalore, Chennai, and Mumbai — together account for about 74% of leads and 72% of seat requests, respectively.
“The flexibility to expand or contract as needed, shorter lease terms, fully equipped offices with many amenities, and the ability to create workspaces of the future that act as magnets for returning employees and the scramble for talent are key factors driving the Flex are fueling market growth,” said Samantak Das, Chief Economist and Head of Research and REIS, India, JLL.
In his opinion, more and more companies are expanding their use of flexible space, along with transformative changes in terms of remote work, mobility and flexibility. He expects the Flex footprint to grow from the current 40 million square feet to nearly 75 million square feet by 2025, riding the wave of enterprise demand for managed workspaces.
“The flex industry has drastically increased in popularity and acceptance among Indian companies of all sizes and scales in recent years. All forms of flex – coworking, privately managed office and hybrid on-demand use – are experiencing robust demand… Coworking stands out as the best solution and solution for the needs of less than 100 seats, which accounts for 90% of the market. Organizations have reassessed office strategy and the equations for return to work,” said Paras Arora, Founder and CEO of Qdesq. Bangalore is the leading technology hub and together with Delhi-NCR forms the two largest start-up clusters in the country and is therefore seeing significant demand from big tech companies and well-funded unicorns as well. Startups, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), and companies in the fintech and e-commerce segments that are focusing on emerging economic hubs and smaller cities for business growth, as well as companies looking to tap the talent pool of an increasingly mobile workforce are the ones Key pillars of This surge in requests for flexible seating in Tier II cities, the report showed.
Chandigarh, Indore and Lucknow are also seeing strong traction for flexible office space requests, while there is good traction in the major Tier II cities in North, West and South India. More than half of all flex seats leased in 2021-2022 were high-volume transactions of 300 or more seats. In absolute terms, around 25,000 flex seats were leased in Bengaluru, followed by Pune with around 15,000 in the same 12-month period.
According to the JLL-Qdesq report, aggregated inquiries are driven by micro, small and medium-sized businesses and other categories in non-tech industries, followed by tech and startups. These three segments together account for 59% of Flexspace requests. Companies across a spectrum, but led by technology and start-ups, are now driving conversations about demand for flexible seating and even actual space usage, data from JLL on actual flexible seating transactions showed. Technology and startups together account for 48% of actual Flexspace revenue.