The millennials are a tough lot! They do things differently. They do not believe in hierarchies, nor do they accept norms. So it is no surprise that they loathe the old-fashioned style of working. Cubicles, cabins, formals and board rooms are passé. They swear by open work spaces, game rooms, idea stations, bean bags, hammocks and inspiration walls.
Today, as more and more youngsters are going the entrepreneurial and freelance way, physical offices as a concept is soon fading out. In the last few years, co-working, or working independently in a shared space, has seen a lot of takers, especially in bigger cities and emerging towns in India. Such spaces are mostly filled with startup teams and freelancers, and are touted to be creating a new collaborative work culture among the young in the country.
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But hold on, before you jump on the bandwagon, here’s how you can find out whether co-working would work for your company or not.
Agreed, the costs of renting out even a small office space in Indian cities like Mumbai and Bengaluru can create quite a deep dent in your pocket and co-working might seem like a cheaper option. You can avail state-of-the-art facilities without having to worry about broker fees, lease agreements or massive amounts of rent. However, just because it is cheaper than a private office doesn’t really mean that you can afford it. If you are just starting out, chances are that you have already spent your initial fund on brand building. Take a look at your cash flow and decide whether you are ready to invest in a co-working space or if you could manage from home (or your garage) till you build a sustainable client base.
The biggest spill over of working in a shared space is being able to meet and network with like-minded professionals. With all kinds of professionals working under the same roof, it is more than likely that you will find someone whom you could collaborate with on future projects. This also fosters the growth of a healthy sense of community, which co-working spaces try to strengthen with regular networking events. All said, each person has a different style of working. So keep in mind that a co-working space will be a regular hub of activity. It is going to be noisy. There will be people speaking on the phone, conducting meetings in the open, chatting up with their colleagues or just ‘hanging around’. There are not many bosses around, so things might get a little out of hand at times. So if you prefer a quiet nook in the corner and cannot work in a noisy atmosphere, you may need to think again.
As most co-working spaces allow access to office supplies like printers, fax machines, WiFi and sometimes even shared computers or laptops at no additional cost, it might turn out to be a huge savings for a startup founder. What you need to, however, remember is that shared office supplies can translate into lower levels of privacy and security. This can be a problem if competing startups are working in the same space. As internet networks are open and free to use, you might need to invest more in securing your data, which might then cancel out the initial savings you made by choosing to work from a co-working space.
As a business that is just starting out, it goes without saying that one of the things you need to get right on track from the word go is company culture. While co-working spaces encourage a modern, liberal work culture, it might become a bit difficult to create an independent culture for your startup. As you have no control over whom you will be sharing your office space with, you will have no control on the culture that is being developed in your organisation as well. It is not just your team working out of the space, which means that you cannot fire anyone who doesn’t seem to fit into your culture. There may be people whom you don’t want around your team, but the space being public in a sense, you may not have much of a choice.
Finally, it all boils down to how you choose to look at it. Like any other option, co-working, too, comes with its own pros and cons. You need to figure out whether the glass if half-full or half-empty and make a choice keeping in mind factors like the size of your business, your team’s preferences and your ultimate goals.
(Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of YourStory.)
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