How flexible workspaces contribute to the infrastructure of smart cities

CXOToday has engaged in an exclusive interview with Mr. Rajat Kapur, Regional Managing Director, North India & UAE, The Executive Centre


  1. How do flexible workspaces fit in with the smart cities mission?

With an increase in the size of the urban working population in the country, the government is identifying innovative solutions to decongest cities and provide a more sustainable working and living environment. Smart cities will help accomplish this. Rethinking cities to make them more liveable and building intelligent, future-ready, and resilient infrastructure, will be critical to realizing the smart cities mission.

Rapid urbanization has also led to an increase in the demand for workspaces and to a new work order. This demand can be realized through flexible workspaces which can serve as accelerators of the smart cities mission.

Flexible workspaces are ideal for workers of all ages, and they optimize space, CAPEX, and solve the challenge of congestion in cities. In the new work order, organisations may choose to open satellite offices in flexible workspaces to ease their employees’ commuting time and to engage with talent from across a broader area. Flexible workspaces also have the technological infrastructure to make workspaces more collaborative and to help organisations align their productivity goals with the overarching goals of smart city governance.


2. How does WFH or work-near-home policies contribute to the infrastructure of smart cities?

The National Smart Cities Mission’s goal is to ensure our cities provide easy accessibility to all major facilities, have technology-enabled infrastructure, and a well-planned travel ecosystem. Flexible workspaces can be key enablers in accomplishing these goals. The hub-and-spoke model promotes productivity, as it allows employees to move from a ‘Work from Home’ to a “Work-Near-Home” model.  In the last few years, the “walk-to-work” concept has grown in popularity among employees and has been promoted by organisations as it saves productive man-hours which otherwise would be lost to traffic congestion or while commuting to work. This transition will continue to create extraordinary value for people, businesses, and local economies, and improve the environment. When people work locally, it increases local amenities and retail outlets. Also, new jobs are created to support a nationwide network of workspaces.

Flexible workspaces are ushering in the future of work and avoid overcrowding in metro cities. Driven by the mantra of adaptability, these workplaces provide turn-key office solutions which the workforce  to focus on productivity. The industry has changed how people work and will pave the way for Indian cities to thrive sustainably.


3.What infrastructure or technological facilities in a flex space also apply to the functioning of a smart city?

A smart city’s foundation is built on technology and data. It uses these to improve outcomes in all operational aspects, which ultimately provides a better quality of life to citizens. The key to creating a smart city is to use data for impactful decision-making. While many cities are still trying to improve their infrastructure, the more advanced smart cities are using technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML), the Internet of things (IoT), and big data to support sustainable development, meet residents’ rising expectations, and improve the city’s resilience.

In a flexible workplace, cutting-edge technologies like cloud-based solutions, AI, IoT are used to ensure efficiency and smoothen workflows. For example, sensors collect data about what rooms / amenities are used the most which optimises power consumption, improves sustainability and allows organisations to design workspaces based on relevant data. Some key office space technologies that are changing the nature of work include apps that give access to multiple plug-and-play meeting rooms and desks across different city touch points and easy to use and interactive user interfaces.

For organisations, the advantages of working in flexible and agile working environments include easy access to information about the availability of health and social amenities, having a connected workforce across regions on virtual community forums, and the ability get quick virtual acknowledgment on assigned or completed tasks.


4. According to you, are trends like reverse migration, and the implementation of the hub & spoke model is complicit with the increasing tech infrastructure in smart cities?

The development of smart cities and the growth of large corporates operating within them is an organic relationship and the foundation of economic and tech infrastructure growth. With the last few years, we had the workforce move away to their hometowns to work from home, driving a reverse migration trend. This has revived the need for strong tech infrastructure within these cities and also boosted local economies. However, over the last 6 months, we have seen large corporates revaluate their workspace strategies, trying to get employees back into the metro cities and incentivising them to step back into office. We are still to establish the new work order and this stalls long term investments in Tier II cities.


5. What tech trends are emerging from smart city hubs?

The complexities of a smart city technology ecosystem necessitate a comprehensive approach to networking and communications. This comprehensive approach is necessary to addresses a wide range of requirements including infrastructure monitoring and the requirements of digital media enterprises’ backbones.

Analysts believe that Big Data will be a crucial driver of the forthcoming industrial revolution. Total worldwide data storage is estimated to exceed 200 zettabytes by 2025, with 50% of this data being stored on the cloud. The power of other exciting technologies, include blockchain, next-generation computing, and AI-powered platforms, has expanded dramatically during the pandemic and is likely to grow at a high CAGRs for years to come. There is also an exponential growth in virtual and augmented reality technology which is resulting in new businesses debuting in the metaverse and omniverse.

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