Almost half of the office occupiers who already have a presence in tier-II cities are using flexible spaces due to the availability of shorter leases and a cautious approach by companies towards incurring capital expenditure. In fact, as many as 78% of these occupiers are expected to expand within the next one year with 84% wanting to utilise flex spaces, a survey by JLL and Awfis has said.
Tier-II cities are also gaining momentum with occupiers looking to enhance their presence, given the business opportunity in the interiors and talent availability in these cities with the reverse migration seen post Covid-19.
Ahmedabad, Bhubaneshwar and Coimbatore have emerged as the leading Tier II cities of choice in terms of flex space, followed closely by Jaipur, Chandigarh and Lucknow, it said.
Even among those who did not have a tier-II city office footprint, 34% of companies had employees working from tier-II locations in the current scenario. While 47% of the respondents had a presence in tier-II cities, one-third of those were medium to large companies with employee strength of 3,000 or more, said the report titled 'Flex your Workplace'.
Domestic tech firms who are targeting interiors, cities and towns beyond metros for business expansion opportunities are looking to set up regional offices.
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“While 75% of the flex portfolio, on average, is still in tier-I cities, the hybrid model is fostering the growth of flex operators in tier-II cities as well. We expect demand for flex spaces to continue to rise in the metros, and the tier-II cities will witness tremendous growth. Driven by reverse migration, focus on talent across regions and cost of living, the tier-II market is perfectly poised to witness a significant upswing in hybrid workplaces,” said Radha Dhir, CEO and country head, India, JLL.
Large enterprises have accounted for 50% of the demand for flex seats in the last couple of years. The average lease size has been in a steady range of between 52,000-56,000 sq. ft over the past four years. While leasing volumes tapered off in 2020 and 2021, enterprise-led flex deals ensured that transaction sizes remained within range. The average deal sizes for enterprise providers were 15-20% higher than the overall average.
“India’s flex space footprint across the top seven cities has grown by 525% over the past five years and now stands at 38 million sq. ft with operational flex seats exceeding 550,000. Even during COVID-19, while 5 million sq. ft of flex space was closed, the segment has reinvented itself and the growth is now being fuelled by enterprise demand for managed workspaces,” said Samantak Das, Chief Economist and Head of Research & REIS (India), JLL.
The total flex stock is at 38 million sq ft, which includes over 5,50,000 operational seats. Among the top seven cities, Bengaluru is the clear leader accounting for 34% of the total flex stock. Large enterprise deals, over 1000 seats, account for about 36% of total market activity since 2020, the survey said.
“With the pandemic exacerbating uncertainty, tenant sentiment now indicates that flexible space adoption is set to accelerate substantially as demand shifts from fixed long-term commitments to more agile and hybrid options. This shift toward greater flexible space requirements is seen as a structural trend and not just in response to the pandemic, and landlords will need to adapt to tenant demands for increased flexibility. Moving forward, flexible workspace is likely to grow from a low proportion of the overall market to a critical and mainstream element of commercial real estate,” said Amit Ramani, founder and CEO, Awfis.