‘Smartworks’ is a new-age serviced office provider, which uses technology and community integration to make office experience better. Smartworks reboots the traditional concept of co-working spaces through its firm belief in the mantra of enabling individuals and businesses to be driven by their own rules and motivation.
BE’s Shiwani Kumar spoke to Neetish Sharda, the Founder and Managing Director of Smartworks, regarding his vision and plans for the company.
Q. What was the idea behind providing co-working spaces?
A. When I finished my college and joined my father’s
business, I was exposed to the conventional office space. My dad had a chamber, I had a chamber, and there was a hierarchy in the sitting arrangement designed. There was no common area. Second thing that I noticed was that none of our employees wanted to stay after the stipulated office time. That was something that I really wanted to change because we usually stayed late and I wanted to encourage our employees to build a dedication towards our company.
That was when someone introduced me to the concept of co-working spaces. Co-working space was the in-thing then and people were talking about it. Meanwhile I met a friend in Delhi who endorsed the idea as it gave him a lot of time to interact with people and be more focused on his work. I took the plunge.
Q. What difficulties did you face?
A. The biggest problem that we faced was the mindset that fixed boundaries stating ‘this is your office, this is where you are supposed to be and this is where you supposed to sit.’ That didn’t work well with us. I wanted to add more space rather than curtail it. My motive was to create more of an interactive environment. I faced challenges related to flexibility in terms of space.
Q. What makes you stand out from your competitors?
A. Smartworks gives you the best products and an enhanced access to the community because we promote co-working spaces. It gives you the sense of owning the office because we allow flexibility in design. That is what makes us stand out from our competitors. Technology has played an important role. When we started Smartworks, we heard about 25 companies starting with the same idea. I thought why not design what we wanted in our own office and see how people react to it. That actually turned out very well. As the economies of scale matched, we thought we could give more value to our customers, which are missing in conventional office spaces.
Q. What are the plans and strategies to extend the company Smartworks?
A. We are currently offering over 450,000 square feet of space across all our centres in India. This space is adequate for around 6,000 seats, out of which 5,000 are already occupied. We envision that by the end of this financial year, we will be having a total of 1.2 million square feet of space. We are even planning to introduce our serviced office spaces in a few tier-2 cities, although that will only be done in the second phase of our expansion.
Q. How much investment have you committed to this project?
A. We have committed a capital of $10 million.
Q. What are your plans to edge ahead of your competition?
A. We are not competing with co-working spaces as we think that the concept of co-working needs to evolve. We are rather competing with traditional office spaces, where the owners have to manage not just their businesses, but the operations as well. This is something they are not great at. Our serviced offices offer the perfect ambience, services, design, infrastructure, and even a level of customization making them ideal not just for freelancers and lean start-up teams, but for established businesses and MNCs as well.