Faced with liquidity crisis and loss of business due to the nationwide lockdown, the country's top co-working space operators have come together to form an association to chalk out strategies to deal with immediate cash-flow challenges and future roadmap.

The industry body named Indian Workspace Association (IWA) will represent the problems faced by the industry to the government as well as other stakeholders.

The co-working segment has been growing at a rapid pace over the past few years. The operators take space on lease from realty firms or landlords and then sub-lease to their clients which are startups, freelancers and corporates.

However, following the lockdown, these players are facing a huge liquidity crisis as many of their clients have shown reluctance in paying rents and some of them even cancelling agreements.

"Co-working and flexible workspace providers across the country have come together to form the Indian Workspace Association, that will be the de-facto voice of the workspace industry in India," the industry body said in a statement.

Although the association has been formed to represent and protect the wider interests of the industry as a whole, the IWA's immediate goal is to define protocols and practices for the industry to address the ongoing COVID-19 crisis.

The association would plan strategies for the way forward in a post-coronavirus world, it said.

IWA will represent majority of companies in the co-working and flexible workspace segment. It currently comprises more than 40 players - at both national and state levels.

The association is led by a core team of six members who have been nominated by the larger group to advocate the industry's concerns and put forth demands to the key stakeholders.

Karan Virwani, CEO, WeWork India; Akshit Mehta, Founder, Vorqspace; Pranay Gupta, Co-founder, 91 Springboard; Shesh Rao Paplikar, CEO, BHIVE Workpsace; Srishti Dhir, founder, Hub and Oak; Vikas Lakhani, Co-founder, InstaOffice and Yatin K Thakur, Founder, CoworkIn are the six members.

"Like most industries, the co-working industry has also been considerably impacted by the COVID 19 pandemic. Thus, we felt the need to create an association to synergise our efforts to help us present our unified position in front of our partners, industry stakeholders, as well as the government," said Pranay Gupta.

In the current environment, he said the IWA's top priority is to seek government support, rent waiver from landlords and discounts from service providers.

"We are liaising with the relevant ministries and authorities to get support and relief for the industry, which could eventually be passed on to our clients," Gupta said. PTI MJH

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