Co-working members appeal to the community to collaborate and rebuild the fallen blocks
The co-working spaces and start-up industries are in limbo with the current coronavirus situation upending all the order in the economic sector.
The workspaces which offer incubating ground to startups and small companies are left alone in the global health crisis. They want the government to step in and give them a helping hand bailing them out.
Akshit Mehta, founder of Vorq Space spread across three locations says, “The dilemma with the co-working spaces is that we as service providers are private companies, providing service in a public place, to private companies. Hence we do not know whether we shall remain open or not.
The co-working spaces are facing challenges to maintain the current clientele and explain that they have no authority to take any stance as a company like the IT sector to operate with the minimal workforce.
Explaining about a recent case in his boutique workspace experienced, Akshit said, “We have a company regulated by the RBI. As per the circular such companies are allowed to work with a low capacity of employees. Although on Friday we had informed them that space would be shut until March 31st.”
However, with the place instructed to be shutdown by the government, there is no provision that Akshit could give any relief to such companies.
Akshit said obedience to government directives could have harsh consequences. “The company members have currently relocated to another private space for the time being. The promoter of the company asked us to open the space Monday onwards, but we have politely asked him to get us clear permission to open,” he said adding it is easier for a company governed by the RBI to get any permissions that a private company.
“Currently we have put the onus on them to get us the necessary permission to access and use our space,” he said.
Speaking about other challenges about losing existing clients, Akshit said, “We have had a few clients asking us for a rent-free period. In fact, they emailed us mentioning that of the place is shut there would not be any operating expenses and you would save money.”
Akshit said that his revenue losses are calculated to be Rs 15-17 lakh per month and cash flow losses of about Rs 15 lakh a month.
“The key aspect to understand here is that if the companies aren’t stopping any salaries of their teams due to the “work from home”; the same should be applied to a co-working space. We as well aren’t stopping any of the ancillary operation costs. Hence, a rent waiver would not be possible,” Akshit says.
Akshit also an investor in multiple starters believes that in such a volatile scenario it is best not to beat around the bush and be straightforward.
“It may backfire, it may not, but it does at least give us a clearer picture. If you are running a co-working space and you’re wondering how or if you should keep it open right now, I have something to say that you aren’t going to like,” Akshit says.
Akshit fears that members of co-working spaces would be lost with companies dying or unable to take the massive downfall due to coronavirus crisis.
“You won’t have any members in the future if they are financially unstable, sick or dead. We need to close down our spaces immediately, please. We shall not and cannot wait for the government to force it,” he says.
Akshit says the co-working spaces face the same fate as that of the cab services or food delivery services industries who are aggregators, the co-working space industry remains equally unrecognized with the government.
Akshit suggests that all the co-working spaces should do what they practice every day – Collaborate and work as a community.
“If you are contemplating the future of your space based on lost revenue (and the repercussions) I have news for you. For an industry that preaches the benefits of collaboration, I am seeing a lot of selfish, short-sighted, careless behavior. If you are a member of a co-working space that hasn’t closed yet, talk to the owners. Assure them that you will help any way you can, but that you NEED them to show you that human lives matter more than income right now,” Akshit says adding that all the community members need to come together and brace the crisis.
Human lives can be rebuilt, but only if they aren’t lost entirely, he adds.
Vandita Kedia Purohit founder of The Daftar co-working space says, “The community should allow some time for the government to process this surreal crisis. It is also the time when co-working space owners should reach out to their stakeholders to seek relief.”
Vandita said that waivers to the members and start-ups could be worked out in the long term, but it is the time that these members also support to come up with a solution that works for all.
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