The world has changed its calendars to 2019 and if there is one trend which has no signs of looking back, it is the growth of gig economy. Jobs and work schedules are more flexible than ever, the world is witnessing an ever-growing influx of millennials in the creative industries and the phenomena of technology and internet is disrupting how ‘work’ is done today. Co-Working as a concept was established just a few years ago and companies like WeWork have acted as pioneers. Co-working spaces were initially developed as a shared space from where start-ups and small and medium businesses could operate from. But over the last 2 years, co-working spaces have expanded in number and a lot of players have invested into the concept. According to a recent study by real estate consulting firm Jones Lang LaSalle, it is estimated that by 2020, more than 13.5 million Indians will operate out of co-working spaces. Unlike in the early years, co-working spaces now are not just limited to the tech start-up sector: sectors like banking, insurance etc. along with the millennials in the creative gig economy are all deriving benefits from this concept.
Different co-working spaces have a different vibe and culture but the basic idea is same. Start-ups and individuals work out of a common shared space and the space has all facilities to enable a productive work environment: cafes, seminar rooms, private meeting rooms, and even private office spaces for organisations with a bigger budget. A number of payment models are employed by owners of these spaces: Pay Per Use model or Price Per Person model are some of the commonly used ones. One can even rent space on a daily, weekly or monthly basis, depending on the requirements one’s company has. But whatever the payment model be, one defining feature which is common for all payment models is ‘Flexibility’. As against traditional property models, where the average lease period is one year and at the same time the lease prices are too costly for a digital nomad or a small bootstrapped company, co-working spaces offer a huge advantage through their flexible payments plans.
Co-working spaces provide an affordable spacing option for start-ups and individuals, particularly those in the initial stages. They offer a great alternative to start-ups who otherwise prefer working from their homes, garages or a café due to lack of initial funding. They are an excellent ground for networking and many companies have been successful in finding their graphic designers or business clients or web developers from the same co-working space only. Many spaces organise regular collaborative networking sessions in the form of weekend drink sessions, yoga and wellness sessions, relevant guest lectures or speed networking sessions over tea or coffee. Co-working spaces create an ecosystem of speed and agility and foster creativity and imagination, which is particularly beneficial for the millennial workforce of today who are active participants in the knowledge sharing economy of 21st century. These spaces also eliminate a company’s responsibility to manage their own administrative expenses as facilities like cafes, Wi-Fi, meeting rooms, furniture, printing etc. are provided by these spaces and one does not have to bother about electricity or cleaning costs.
It would be wrong to conclude that coworking spaces today are being used only by tech based start-ups or small businesses who have a bootstrapped budget. Corporate bigwigs like Amazon and Apple along with many other medium and large businesses are using coworking spaces for either their new development projects or these spaces are used to provide a flexible work model to their regular employees who can work out of these spaces. Companies have embraced this concept to reap the benefits of a sense of community and a source of fresh ideas. Just recently, corporate bigwig Kishore Biyani picked up a lot of space in a co-working space in Mumbai for his AI start-up to access networking, marketing and research benefits these spaces offer with very little capital expense in relation to a traditional capital property. Many freelancers and digital nomads prefer working in a co-working space as it not only provides a creative working environment, but also gives them an opportunity to work in a productive manner as against working from a café or a home garage.
Co-working spaces are definitely here to stay. They are definitely redefining corporate workplace culture in ways more than one as individuals and companies, big and small alike, are increasingly embracing this work arrangement.