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The 28 Club
21st March 2019

By 2020 the average age of the population in India will be 28-years old. Coincidently, the country will also be home to 28% of the world’s workforce.

These two facts suggest that there will be significant growth in consumption and wealth in the country. This will have a huge impact on the economy. Already, the number of people classed as middle income (US $35,000 salary or higher) has doubled and this will continue to rise.

At the same time, people around the world are moving into cities faster than ever. The scale of the challenge in India is huge. Approximately 100 new cities need to be built for 300m people by 2050.

People want to live in cities because they have higher quality healthcare, education, and security. There are more opportunities for prosperity and talent migrates to these places. Where there are people, there are jobs, and it is for this reason that the workplace sector is about to enter a boom period.

Time to go to work

The question is, what kind of workplaces are needed to meet this demand? Regional board director Ankit Kamboj, who leads the Mumbai studio, says that it is all about scale and flexibility. He said, “The major expansion at the moment is in technology and professional services. Large corporations are investing throughout India with requirements ranging anywhere from 100 – 10,000 employees.

“Bangalore has seen a heavy proportion of commercial construction over the last couple of years. Rents are lower than Mumbai, so it is a popular place to roll out a business or simply create a presence in the Indian sub-continent.

“Developers want the prestige of capturing big brands.It is viewed as a safer option, as they are easier to manage and often sign a longer lease.

“In terms of design, these companies want straightforward office space. They want sites that offer the density they require in quality surroundings. Their brand will integrate with, rather than dominate, these buildings, and flexibility will be important to accommodate growth and changes in the market.”

Ankit Kamboj is a Regional Board Director for Broadway Malyan, Asia Pacific region and heads up our Mumbai office.

A younger, more flexible workforce?

In contrast to the above, some commentators suggest that the level of education and size of the workforce will result in India becoming the “start-up capital of the world”, geared towards small, entrepreneurial businesses. After all, not everyone will want to work for one of the large corporates.

Ankit added: “Our analysis shows that while big corporations create demand for large workplaces, the emergence of small businesses and start-ups has created a parallel universe in the sector.

“What both have in common is that everyone wants a good office space in the best location, at a sustainable price, with the best amenities. This has led to innovations in space planning and a shift in rental economics.

“Our analysis shows that while big corporations create demand for large workplaces, the emergence of small businesses and start-ups has created a parallel universe in the sector.”
Ankit Kamboj, Board Director

“We have seen WeWork and other similar firms enter the market recently in Mumbai, so there is clearly an appetite for smaller spaces with flexible leases. Whilst large, single tenant offices are dominating construction at the moment, purpose-built business parks are also being proposed to cluster complementary businesses together.

“We are currently working on a number of these including a 50-acre masterplan that will serve 70,000 people and over 3 million sq ft. of workplace.”

Because demand is so high and the sector’s expansion is so fast, there are quality issues. Ankit explained: “There is a sense that people don’t want to miss the opportunity, so developments are going forward quickly. This can have an impact on the quality of the build or the fit-out. But, by taking the time to get this right, the market will have more suitable stock, which will attract occupiers and deliver a better return on investment for owners.

“It is important to also invest in the quality of amenities and ensure that the front of house areas have impact. This delivers an experience for visitors and has a large influence on the perception of the development and companies that

reside there.

“The best way to judge a workplace is on the quality of placemaking it offers. A standalone tower can have a similar impact to a business park if placemaking is championed. This can be through the creation of the right mix of uses within the masterplan, exceptional architecture, the inclusion of quality landscape and public realm, or through the integration of a new brand and wayfinding identity.”

Six styles of office being delivered in India:

  1. Traditional office floorplates aimed at single occupiers
  2. Co-working spaces with enterprise solutions
  3. Boutique offices, mixing the stylish and functional
  4. Hybrid workplaces with quirky, collaborative spaces
  5. Technology focused spaces
  6. Hospitality inspired spaces.