Shyam Nagarajan / Reading Time: 4 mins
In a corporate world, at least in most of the companies, things don't happen without a chain of approvals. You want a leave? Submit an application form and wait for approval. I once had a boss who told me "Why do you need a day off for your cousin's marriage. You are not getting married. Right?" You want to upgrade your laptop, plan for at least 1 month of a long winded approval process to get a new one (if you are lucky). I think you get the drift and I am sure you are able to relate to this experience at your workplace.
Something magical happened this time around with COVID. Your employer or boss could not do anything about when you work, where you work and how you work and with whom you work. All these decisions were left to the employees to best decide for themselves. We have spoken to at least 300+ CxOs over the last year. Each of them have reported that at least 60% of their workforce has relocated back to their hometowns like Trichy, Mysore, Indore and Vijayawada.
2020 was mostly spent working from home. It never seemed to end. There was some respite as 2021 dawned but it did not last for too long. Being shut behind the 4 walls was unnerving for many of us. Microsoft's report stated nearly 71% of this generation workforce are struggling and felt lonely through the pandemic.
In our own surveys many CHROs reported their teams felt stressed out. Employees also had reported that they no longer feel a part of the team. Employers were left high and dry to come up with effective solutions to the ongoing mental wellness pandemic.
Kindly note that the names of employees mentioned in the subsequent paragraphs have been changed to protect their identity.
Many employees took charge of their mental wellbeing. As the world ushered in 2021 and with state governments starting to allow coworking spaces and we at GoFloaters started to see a barrage of bookings. We did expect bookings to increase but were pleasantly surprised that they increased to the extent they did. We were also surprised to see many employees of companies booking with us. We could observe a few patterns.
Tier 2 cities saw employees booking hot desks from coworking spaces in Madurai, Ahmedabad and coworking spaces in Lucknow. Our conversations with some of our customers from tier 2 cities revealed that they were beleaguered by the infrastructure. Power shutdowns and internet connectivity challenges added additional pressure to their already challenging routines. Rahul who works for HCL as a database administrator said that he was tired of working out of the bed or using a trunk as his laptop stand. Nithya who works for E&Y as a business analyst quoted that she yearned to be amongst others similar to her. Nikhil who works for a marketing automation startup Klenty started to have back pain working from the small dining table at his hometown. He got relief by coming to our coworking spaces once in a while.
In tier 1 cities we saw teams catching up with each other and collaborating at meeting spaces in Hyderabad, Mumbai and the NCR region. We had startups, large companies, sales teams from FMCG companies and SMBs all booking meeting spaces.
Broadly we had the following types of meetings being conducted :
One sales team from CavinKare was meeting almost every alternate week. Raghu who heads this team said that it was difficult to set targets, ideate and understand the challenges of their team members through telephonic conversations. LivSpace, a popular home interiors startup, also hired our spaces to have the sales team members come together once a week. An edutech startup Flinto who was expanding their footprint booked our meeting spaces in Bengaluru to onboard new talent. Radhika the facilitator of the onboarding was much relieved to be able to do this onboarding in-person.
One thing that was common with all the individuals and teams that we have served through the pandemic is that they all felt work from home was not a permanent solution. They all craved work and meeting spaces near their home. Tier 2 cities saw a surge in demand for coworking spaces from people who had relocated there. They all claimed GoFloaters on-demand work and meeting spaces to be a blessing. They could with a few clicks transform their routine into a more productive and an enjoyable experience. Derrick, one of our users from Coimbatore, messaged us back "thank you for making my life simple".
Many of these individuals and teams acknowledged that they had not taken any permission from their bosses to book spaces with GoFloaters. They had taken this choice themselves and were even alright if their companies did not reimburse the expenses. A professional space near their home was more of a personal choice that they wanted to exercise. Some of them have even connected us with their HR leaders so that we can work out some coworking passes for their company.