In a post-pandemic reality, as we move toward normalcy, sustainability has come to the forefront as governments, investors and built environment stakeholders, consider how to build a better future for generations.
In an evolved reality, businesses have undergone significant changes with externalities such as climate change, finite resource availability, and changing stakeholder expectations. However, with the evolving landscape, the yardstick for business success has considerably shifted from short-term profitability to long-term sustainability for stakeholders. Recently, there has been a boost in Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) factors being regarded and incorporated into commercial real estate transactions. Whether we look at investors or occupiers, it is evident that demand for more sustainable practices and structures is rocketing. Seeing this growing awareness and demand for eco-friendly products & services, ESG has become a key element of decision for corporate occupiers, employees as well as investors in commercial real estate too.
Talking about offices, the concept of ‘green workspace’ will soon become a standard rather than an exception. While traditional workspaces are doing their bit in saving the planet, let us look at how co-working and shared office spaces hold on to the more profound significance of sustainability. From the future of work to the future of sustainability, co-working spaces have the potential to unravel these problems.
Shared use of resources
Being a co-working space, it is a shared workspace for multiple organizations, businesses and individuals. These flexi spaces possess a huge potential to support environmental sustainability due to their inherently sharing-oriented composition. At their core, they support the sharing of space, supplies and other resources, thereby cutting down on basic wastefulness. Compared to a traditional office, co-working spaces offer common utilities to all workers from different field or companies, like a printer, coffee machine, etc. Not only is this cost-effective, but it also sends less waste to the landfills & results in less electricity consumption. Had there been no coworking spaces, these businesses would have been operating out of their different offices thereby increasing the usage of space and land.
Energy efficient travel
Commuting to independent offices can prove to be a hassle as employees from different corners of a city travel to these conventional office spaces which are generally located in a commercial district. Since co-working spaces have a vast network and are present at multiple prime locations, it is easily accessible to employees through a short distance commute. This not only helps them save time and money spent on travelling but from a sustainability point of view helps in reducing pollution generation and carbon footprint.
Integration of tech
The COVID-19 pandemic has caused businesses to be more reliant on technology than ever before. Apart from being equipped with natural lighting, greenery and open space, flex spaces are opting for intelligent LED lighting which uses much less power and has a considerably longer lifetime. Shared workspaces are optimizing energy usage by changing the lighting & ventilation design to reduce energy consumption per unit. With use of advanced building design software, coworking spaces are leveraging the opportunity for smart, data-driven decisions within every element of design and construction, from glass curtain wall detailing, to implementing natural daylighting strategies, to prefabrications, raw material procurement and so on.
Individuals and organisations now realise the significance of preserving resources as it helps us to lead better professional as well as personal lives. Today, builders and business owners are collaborating to build eco-friendly office complexes, tech-parks and zero-waste facilities. Even when the healthcare crisis is over, there can be no going back to the ‘old’ normal for office spaces. It will be upon us to shape its recovery and make the case for positive change as we build back better, and flex spaces possess a huge potential contribute towards an environmentally conscious workspace.
Views are personal. The author is founder and CEO, Awfis.
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