Collaborative spaces, led by WeWork’s expansion in India, have a significant impact on workspaces and, therefore, the economy. A new report assessing economic impact has outlined interesting insights that point to India’s work-life moving in a new direction. It points to democratisation of neighbourhoods. Intensive urbanisation and growing population density in a few areas have made the CBDs of Indian metros practically inaccessible over the years. NITI Aayog foresees the growth of the Indian real estate sector to jump more than five-fold to US$650 billion by 2040. As commercial real estate become more expensive, flexible workspaces are democratising access by reducing the prohibitive barrier of price. This is re-injecting vibrancy to metros and enabling businesses and individuals to benefit from proximity to CBDs.
The report found that 76% of WeWork members in Mumbai, 74% in Bengaluru, and 67% in Delhi did not work in the neighbourhood prior to joining WeWork. This has also had an impact on several activities in their neighbourhoods — 9-15% of WeWork members have moved closer to the WeWork location since joining, especially in Bengaluru, where 1 in 4 (37%) members visit nearby restaurants, cafes and businesses daily. In the southern city alone, the WeWork economy directly contributed INR1,957 crore and in total supports INR2,002 crore (INR44 crore indirectly) of the city’s GDP. Mumbai comes second with WeWork directly contributing INR1,692 crore and in total supports INR1,737 crore (INR45 crore indirectly) of the city’s GDP. The economic contribution in Delhi remains the highest with a direct contribution of INR2,986 crore and INR 62.7 crore indirectly, resulting in a whopping INR3,049 crore GDP impact.
Incidentally, knowledge workers and entrepreneurs are the biggest beneficiaries of the coworking revolution. Flexibility and low capital commitment helps encourage entrepreneurship, with 17% of WeWork comprising entrepreneurs who are pursuing their first startup project at WeWork. Likewise, over 77% of WeWork Bengaluru members are in the innovation economy and are self-employed for the first time, and 53% of its Delhi members are in innovation with 11% first-time entrepreneurs.