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Return to office highest in telecom, consulting sectors

Majority of employees in telecom and consulting sectors have returned to office with significant fall in COVID-19 cases but the IT sector is lagging, according to a survey by Colliers and Awfis.

Property consultant Colliers India and co-working operator Awfis’ joint report explores the status of return to work across different sectors.

“As the third wave of COVID-19 started waning in February, the return-to-office gained momentum. As a result, by June 2022 about 34 per cent of the companies saw about 75-100 per cent of the employees back in office (includes hybrid work),” the report said.

About 41 per cent of occupiers stated that only up to 25 per cent of their employees have returned to office.

The survey showed that telecom and consulting sectors saw the highest (75-100 per cent) rate of return to office while IT and new technology companies saw the lowest (0-25 per cent) rate of return to office.

“The survey has made it clear that a distributed workspace strategy is the way to go for occupiers in this new era of experiential workplaces, as occupiers emerge from the after-effects of the pandemic. Flex spaces, in particular, are leading this growth, as occupiers from varied sectors are housing teams in flex centres across cities,” Colliers India CEO Ramesh Nair said.

Flexible workspace operators leased about 3.5 million square feet of office space in January-June this year across the top six cities, almost three-fourths of the flexible space leasing in entire 2021, he added.

The survey was conducted during May-June among occupiers to understand their strategies regarding distributed workplace. The respondents were from different sectors such as IT/ITeS, BFSI, engineering and manufacturing and others.

Total 150 responses were received from C-Suite executives spanning Founders, CEOs, COOs and CHROs of various companies. The company size of the respondents varied, starting from a range of 1-500 employees to companies having over 10,000 employees.

As per the survey, about 74 per cent of the occupiers are likely to adopt distributed workspace while 53 per cent of occupiers prefer working from home plus office as their preferred workplace portfolio strategy.

About 49 per cent of the occupiers are likely to adopt flex centres to enable distributed workspace, followed by setting up their own offices in metro and non-metro cities.

The consultant sees opportunities for flex spaces not only in metro cities but also in non-metro cities. “In fact, in non-metro cities, total flex spaces are likely to grow more than two-fold to 5.5 million square feet by the end of 2022,” Nair said.

Amit Ramani, Founder and CEO, Awfis said the findings of the survey are a testament to the success of the distributed work model and subsequently of flex spaces in catering to the ever-evolved workspace needs of India Inc.

“Going forward, 77 per cent occupiers will include flex spaces as part of their workplace strategy. We expect exceptional demand in the future, driven largely by large corporates for de-densification of existing traditional offices,” he added.

According to the Colliers India data, the gross leasing of office rose to 32.9 million square feet in 2021 from 30.1 million square feet in the previous year. During 2019, the numbers stood at 44.8 million square feet across six cities — Delhi-NCR, Mumbai, Bengaluru, Chennai, Hyderabad and Pune.

In the first six months of this year, the office leasing has risen to 27.5 million square feet from 10.3 million square feet in the year-ago period. The share of leasing by flexible workspace operators stood at 13 per cent. PTI

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