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Office evolution: The new age of 'co-working' spaces

The year 2016, witnessed a boost in the growth of start-ups in the nation. With every startup came a new concept and idea easing the way of doing work or upgrading the lifestyle. With companies around the globe, asking for a home as easy and comfy working environment for their employees that will not only relax them but will also enhance their productivity, creativity and collaborating power; the great minds have come up with the concept of sharing the workspace. And, to the surprise of the economists, this idea took up the nation with a storm and is now a big hit among the office- goers.

The concept of co-working in India is not novice. What’s new is how it has evolved to tackle two of the biggest urban growth challenges – space and time.

It’s always a delight to watch our metropolitan cities grow and flourish with real-estate development and technological advancements. Nevertheless, the scarcity of space leading to exorbitant real estate prices is petrifying. Owning even a 250 sq.ft space in a city like Delhi, Mumbai or Bangalore costs a fortune today.

With a strong focus on urban space reprogramming, the new age of co-working spaces are addressing this problem of urban space scarcity head on. Instead of creating new infrastructure and making urban cities even denser, these co-working spaces are making efficient use of existing spaces by converting vacant spaces within cafes, offices and hotels into work-friendly stations. It is interesting to see as to how technology, combined with design thinking, can be channeled to make space usage efficient.

This revolutionary approach is considered great by the start-ups not just because it helps to expand the creative and intellectual level of the professionals, but also because it solves the space crunch problem of many of them. With the rapid urbanization, industrialization and population explosion, the size of residential as well as commercial spaces is shrinking day after day. As a result, the value of office spaces is increasing at the speed of light, and the rent is touching the sky in metros and most of the tier-1 cities of India.

In regards to time, one of the major roadblocks of working in a traditional co-working space has been its similarity to cubicle culture in terms of fixed locations. There is clearly a lack of ‘flexibility’. The team members are anyway wasting both time and money in travelling from far off-places. On the contrary, by setting up workspaces in almost every neighborhood, the new age co-working solutions give immense flexibility in terms of location, time and space. There is a plethora of workspace options to choose from.

As co-working spaces evolve to meet the demand of workers for flexible, autonomous and creative work environments, broader changes are occurring in how we work and live. Co-working spaces offer the potential to address other challenges facing our future cities as they provide accessible space for individuals to work, attend learning events and become part of a likeminded community. This is important given predictions regarding changes to the urban landscape.

More so, the new generation of gig economy has realized the strong component of networking. The new and evolved co-working solutions are focusing heavily on building a dynamic mix of online & offline community. It will be very interesting to see as to how community evolves in this model.

Unlike other working cultures, the co-working environment doesn’t include the concept of competition or hierarchal growth but inculcates the idea of workspace being shared by same minded people from different professions and field of expertise. Furnished with the best-of-the-lot technologies and amenities like high-speed Wi-Fi connections, a tasty restaurant like food and comfy seating arrangements, these working spaces are becoming a big hit among the start-ups, freelancers and consultants. With many such spaces sprouting up in and around the city, a new revolution in the working culture is probably on the charts.

From the highly trendy clubs, cafes and restaurants to the well- furnished libraries and studios, there are almost 17% of India’s Grade A office space lying vacant. And, with the concept of co-working spaces trending in the scene, these leftover spaces can be divided and suitably rented out to the relevant professionals. If planned and executed properly, the concept of co-working will benefit both the space owners and end users, directing the economy towards the path of sustainable growth. 

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UtkarshKawatra is the co-founder and CEO at myHQ. Before myHQ,Utkarsh co-founded - BloodConnect (bloodconnect.org), India's largest youth-run initiative in the field of blood donation present in 10+ cities, team of 200+. Prior to myHQ, Utkarsh was an investment analyst with Helion Ventures, where he evaluated B2C start ups for investments. Utkarsh did his under graduation from IIT Delhi in Mathematics and Computing.