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Co-living operators are providing facilities to help young professionals work smoothly from their shared accommodation, as companies move towards a hybrid workspace model, with work from home (WFH) being a core feature.

Shared-living space providers, who used to offer customized and individual workspaces to meeting rooms and video conference facilities, are now also including workstations in their packages to customers, as people slowly start returning with the second wave ebbing.

Occupancy in these facilities dropped sharply in April-May and new occupants and those returning would want dedicated workspaces in the centres on the days they won’t go to office.

Co-living and student living operator Stanza Living is re-engineering some of its design standards to create working ecosystems in its centres, including workspaces in the cafeteria area, ergonomic furniture, enterprise-grade internet and holistic packages to offer hybrid working in the centres.

“Given that hybrid working will continue, from a corporate and consumer point of view, plug and play will be the preference. We have created significant differentiators and the shift to organized players in the co-iving and student living segment will be stronger," said Anindya Dutta, co-founder, Stanza Living.

The second wave created a huge disruption in the pace of recovery for co-living firms, which saw high physical occupancy until March.

Colive said it is transforming its properties to hybrid living, which can be integrated in different ways to create a multi-functional environment for informal meetings, presentations or simply hanging out. Supersize living accommodations are also back in demand. It is offering formal video conferencing facilities, high-speed Wi-Fi, individual workstations and collaborative working with meeting rooms.

“Co-living players that offer high-speed internet, meeting rooms and workspaces in the rooms will emerge winners in the post-pandemic world. The millennials are working from home and not from their hometowns, they want their privacy and at the same time need to be productive at work. We are upgrading all our facilities and providing work stations in every studio room. We have repurposed 1-2 rooms in each centre, removed the beds and created meeting rooms," said Suresh Rangarajan, founder and chief executive officer, Colive.

Colive expects demand to come in from three segments: 19-29 years in urban markets, including students coming in from other cities, and 23–29 year old first-time professionals.

The gig worker category is also an emerging, large market with nearly 2 million freelancers and delivery workers, Rangarajan said.

“The fusion of living and working is a whole new environment and the way of servicing will change," said Nikhil Sikri, co-founder and chief executive officer, ZoloStays.

“Earlier, food was available and mandatory. Now, it will be different. To find the right approach in building a community and the importance of various services will be key. After the second wave, we are adding separate Wi-Fi corners and offering workspaces or corners," he added.

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