As long as there is a demand for affordable accommodation in cities, co-living will continue to be a lucrative business for brands, creating opportunities and a better way of living, even amid a pandemic
There are many myriad disruptive start-up ideas that have exploded in the Indian living ecosystem, especially if we look into the real estate sector. In the recent years, only a few of them have made the kind of impact that co-living has. The idea of co-living has been embraced by the present generation wholeheartedly with arms wide open. It has become an obvious answer to the age-old concern of affordable housing. The utility of shared living spaces is set in motion to find its way into the urban millennial headspace.
During the initial two lockdowns, many people spent months in isolation and some of them within their limited support bubble. This further resulted in starved human connection, urging people to look for more ways to socially engage than ever before. The young workforce was seen and even looking forward to build social connections even in their own buildings. The pandemic came as realisation that there is a necessity of organised purpose-built co-living accommodation and the objective being to disrupt the PG (accommodation) market, which is highly unorganised and is poorly managed, with least or no COVID-19 protocols in place. Hassle-free living sounded like a distant dream a few years ago. The shared economy concept has now percolated all aspects of society, giving rise to unprecedented disruptions along with the creation of new opportunities. It is important to note that the driving force for co-living in the market is not just the lack of available spaces or crammed living, but also flexibility and affordability, aspirations of the present generation, the breakthrough technological innovation and the digital economy.
Predominantly focussed at millennials and working professionals, without an age limit, co-living aims to build an instant community for those looking for open-minded friendships. It also intends to facilitate an opportunity to live in the main business and commercial areas of the city that would usually be highly expensive in the otherwise traditional private rented set up. Because of millennials contributing to the larger share of the population, the requirement of the hour is to have affordable, organised and thoughtfully planned communities that will lead to disruption in the market and resolve the purpose-built co-living solutions for this constantly growing segment of target consumers.
The way of living will become affordable and better organised
Co-living enables residents to dwell in a sociable environment and to take the benefits of a much wider variety of facilities than the ones that would be available to them in an individual apartment or flat share. If we look beyond the numbers, it becomes quite obvious that across a spectrum of sectors, the shared economy concept has unleaded disruptive forces that have forced a simple choice upon the occupants i.e. to level up and to elevate their communal needs.
It is important to note that the business of shared living spaces is moving to an asset-light model, where operators are changing and evolving their business model as per consumer needs, rather than involving high business risks such as taking up building on rent. The aim is to take up buildings on a revenue share basis, which means that the operators operate the building as a co-living space on behalf of the owner for a fee in return. These are spaces that go beyond offering a space to live in, but a congregation of thoughts, ideas, opinions and backgrounds to coexist and be a part of a vibrant community for people to come together and connect.
The growing need and importance of building a sustainable community
Community living is the principal driving force of co-living — to bring together people regardless of their age, to shape communities around similar and niche interests according to the ever-changing individual needs, to have the same mindset as millennials, and to pursue the will for a richer communal living environment. Further, co-living aims to be an option to combat loneliness, especially among the migrant millennial workforce in metro cities, inviting people from different walks and different stages of life to co-create, evolve and flourish in collaboration by building meaningful connections and shaping a vibrant ecosystem with the help of recreational activities. Community management is thereby regarded as the key to the success of co-living.
Remote work is going to sustain for long or for the least, hybrid remote work is likely to become an integral part of workplace strategies as we go forward. Since human connection during the lockdown has been starved, co-living is an option that gives access to communal spaces and social events in a way that is unmatched by any other housing model. The properties are designed to revolutionise creative spaces in order to create an environment which is fun, playful and yet inspiring and fulfilling.
A specifically curated holistic community fosters a culture of inclusivity among the occupants which enables meeting a variety of other individuals and in turn expanding their network. Besides, providing contemporary lifestyle solutions that are fully equipped for people who enjoy hassle-free living. It provides smart living solutions, creating a balance for both leisure and work. However, co-living spaces need to elevate and step up their facilities to sustain and to endure the new reality.
The outlook on co-living in 2021
Sustainability, community, and well-being are intertwined aspects. Health and well-being will continue to remain as the two primary factors for anyone to consider living in a safe space, especially in these unprecedented times. Considering the expansive offerings that shared accommodations and co-living spaces offer, along with ensuring enhanced safety protocols, this alternative will gradually become a necessity for modern migrants as they adjust and familiarise themselves with the new normal.
Today’s workforce is on a constant move and does not wish to compromise on their living standards. The lockdown has led to starved human connection and there is a strong yearning for more social engagement opportunities than ever before. Promotion of positivity and empathy is the key to re-build the bond. To exemplify, build relationships between the residents and the local commerce or engage co-residents by curating events and fun activities. The pandemic has forced people to prefer places that offer safety and hygiene along with fully furnished facilities, rather than public places, which makes their transition to their new homes easier.
As long as there is a demand for affordable accommodation in cities, co-living will continue being a lucrative business for brands, providing opportunities to create conversational bonds and diverse communities with a better way of living, even in a pandemic. Residents are looking for proximity to the workplace and a holistically curated community living. The future of co-living sees a bright light at the end of the tunnel.
(The writer, Kahraman Yigit, is the co-founder and CEO of Olive by Embassy.)