‘Smartworks’ is working hard to be number one – Neetish Sarda

From its inception in December 2015 when they had zero square feet, Smartworks has grown to over 550,000 square in 18 months

There is something not quite right about the way conventional offices operate. Most have not evolved to meet the needs of our time. Everywhere you look, it’s the same old cubicles, internet that barely connects, disorganised or missing infrastructure, tasteless coffee that you gulp down just to stay awake, and colleagues who want you to take up their projects on priority. Something’s got to give – quickly.

Smartworks' cofounders Harsh Binani and Neetish Sarda
Smartworks’ cofounders Harsh Binani and Neetish Sarda

When Neetish Sarda the son of Ghanshyam Sarda decided to set up a new office, he knew that he wanted to move beyond the mundane offerings of traditional workspaces, conventional business centres, and even coworking spaces. He set out to build and nurture a product that would be easy to set up, be fully customisable, and future ready. In December 2015, that dream became a reality when he founded smartworks – a Gurugram-based startup that is on a mission to build completely serviced and customisable offices complemented by thriving communities, which encourage collaboration and networking within the entire smartworks universe.

The Plan

Breaking away from the monotony of traditional offices and even coworking spaces, smartworks is built on a foundation of customizability, flexibility, services, and community. They currently operate eight centres across seven cities – Gurugram, Noida, Delhi, Pune, Mumbai, Bengaluru and Kolkata. Two new centres in Pune and one in Hyderabad are also currently in the works.

‘smartworks’ USP is the customisability it offers, unlike many in the industry. Everything from the way the workstations are organised, to the way meeting rooms function, can be tweaked by the client to suit their needs. Moreover, as space is completely serviced, clients can actually start working from day 1 of their move.

And it’s not just startups that work out of this space. Freelancers and established companies can also leverage the facilities, which include private, shared and virtual offices, meeting rooms, conference rooms, audio-visual rooms and business lounges. These can be booked and used as per requirement.

Neetish Sarda and Harsh Binani dreaded having to drag themselves out of bed each morning to go to work. So they took it upon themselves to challenge workplace orthodoxy by offering buzzy co-working spaces with funky furnishings and a collegiate atmosphere.

There’s nothing new about the concept. But Sarda and Binani have given their startup, Smartworks, a bit of a twist — by packaging services along with the usual modern trappings of coworking spaces.

Smartworks aims to make your office life less pain and more fun – Neetish Sarda

“We are aiming to build a community where our clients can provide their business services as well as rate third-party services for the benefit of others within the Smartworks universe. We already have a vast pool of clients who are either providing or using third-party services,” said Binani, who was employed with McKinsey & Co. before he decided to join Sarda, his brother-in-law.

“If you are working out from a Smartworks office and looking for a legal services firm, all you have to do is go on our app, find a list of all companies that provide legal services within the Smartworks universe, check their ratings and connect with them. This will not only allow our clients to increase their business but also makes it convenient for them to seek services,” said Binani.

Since its inception in April 2016, Kolkata-based Smartworks has opened more than 400,000 sq ft of serviced office space in Delhi, Noida, Gurugram, Kolkata, Bengaluru, Mumbai and Pune. The team aims to lease at least 3.5 million sq ft of co-working space across 15 centres in big cities and at least 15 more in smaller cities over the next three years.

Smartworks has more than 200 clients, including startups that have raised series-B funding. “We want to help our clients use the latest in technology to get the most of their workday. We will soon be integrating Amazon’s Alexa smart personal assistant within Smartworks,” said Sarda, an alumnus of Krannert School of Management, Purdue and Singapore Institute of Management

Clients will be able to use it to do a variety of tasks — take minutes of meetings, book meeting rooms, access visitor logs, request concierge services, among other things.

In crowded cities such as Delhi, Mumbai and Bengaluru, co-working spaces aim to play a dual role — that of bringing a vibrant community of startup entrepreneurs and enthusiasts together while solving for escalating real estate and office costs.

Smartworks competes with US-based WeWork, Cowrks of RMZ Group, BHIVE Workplace, Creator’s Gurukul that is backed by cricketer Yuvraj Singh and several others. “We offer premium office space and the charges vary depending on the location. On an average, our charges are between Rs 12,000 and Rs 13,000 per seat,” said Neetish Sarda.

The co-working industry, a CBRE study states, is expected to lease around 25 million sq ft of real estate by 2023. Commercial real estate services company Colliers International anticipates the industry would receive $400 million in investments per year and have more than 12,000 startups by 2020.

The present and the future

At present, smartworks has more than 400,000 square feet of space on offer across the country, which translates to a seating capacity of 6,000. All their centres are completely customisable and future ready, as they call it. Going further, smartworks is planning to increase the seating capacity to 18,000 by bumping up their total available area to 1.2 million square feet across different parts of the country by the end of this financial year. Along with expanding in Tier-1 cities, the company is also planning to roll out centres in several Tier-2 cities in India in the second phase of their expansion.

smartworks office design

The clientele

With companies like Amazon, Johnson & Johnson, Lenovo, Booking.com, OLX, HDFC Realty and DHL, among others, having offices at smartworks, it’s imperative to believe that they’re not competing with coworking spaces that are more about startups only. smartworks’ serviced offices are designed keeping in mind the needs of the workforce of tomorrow. After all, won’t we all love a better and more vibrant office?

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