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How India Is Witnessing Rapid Proliferation Of Co-working Culture

The idea is simple, different organizations working from the same shared office space

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As you enter the large vibrant co-working space, you’re accosted by the sound of laughter coming from the cafeteria. Hundreds of young professionals were enjoying their early morning cup of coffee, breakfast, and banter; each an extremely vital element for them to get through the rest of the day. Witnessing the camaraderie on display, one can’t help but feel happy for the top bosses of the company where these professionals work, imagining how relieved they must be to have such a unified and friendly group of employees. However, a quick interaction with some of the occupants of a nearby table revealed a startling fact; these professionals all worked for different companies, which in turn co-worked under the same roof.

Welcome to the world of co-working spaces, a phenomenal change to India’s workplace model. The idea is simple, different organizations working from the same shared office space.  For a country such as India, which is high on population and low on space, such a system can be a real game-changer. In fact, the suitability of the co-working model for our country makes one question the delay in its arrival. 

Recently, the leasing of co-working spaces increased by about 2.4 times in Mumbai at to 550,000 sq. ft  in 2017 from 160,000 sq. ft in 2016, while Bengaluru saw a 43% jump in leasing by co-working space providers. The dominance of co-working spaces in the country’s financial and infotech capitals is proof enough of its popularity among emerging enterprises.

According to a report by real–estate consultancy JLL and the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), a seat in a co-working space costs only a half to one-third of that in a conventional setup. In fact, in Mumbai, Delhi, and Pune, they are at least 20% cheaper. With most co-working spaces running at 85% occupancy, more space providers are also being encouraged to enter the industry, attracted by the typically short break-even span of five months.

A default option for future businesses

The rising popularity of start-ups in India, coupled with the cost-cutting that entrepreneurs need to make during the initial stages of a business makes co-working centers a great bet for emerging companies. With all the necessary amenities provided for in relaxed atmospheres that are a welcome change from stuffy offices, co-working spaces are in effect, a direct spatial reflection of the changing spirit of a young Indian workforce. The growing interdependence of businesses and the need to build work communities for faster networking opportunities also endears co-working spaces to budding entrepreneurs. The JLL report further states that these young professionals will account for 12-14 million seats in co-working spaces within the next few years.

By the end of 2018, co-working spaces are estimated to receive USD 400 million in investments, with the present number of 200+ co-working spaces set to reach 400 by 2020.  In such a scenario, the Indian government needs to invest immediate attention towards this domain and address its concerns, such as the complex process to rent a commercial space and concerns regarding landowners’ unwillingness to rent out spaces to co-working space providers, driven by their lack of understanding of the concept. Furthermore, the process of ownership of land needs to be hassle-free for the users as owned spaces give greater flexibility to restructure the building according to the needs of the clients.

The co-working industry is still at a nascent stage in India, but the potential is huge.  India is the 2nd largest start-up hub globally and the 2nd largest freelance workforce in the world. It’s no wonder then that the work spirit of a country driven by the mottoof Unity in Diversity,will be reflected microcosmically  in places such as a co-working space’s cafeteria; a melting pot of diverse talents, skills, ideas and organizations, driven by the common watchword of progressing, together! 

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house. Unless otherwise noted, the author is writing in his/her personal capacity. They are not intended and should not be thought to represent official ideas, attitudes, or policies of any agency or institution.

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Pranay Gupta

The author is Co-founder of 91springboard, a co-working space.

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