Is There A Need For A Reality Check For Co-working?
A lot of startups begin in the founders’ apartment, or, like Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak, from their garage. However, there comes a time when the apartment no longer remains a suitable working place. The team expands, and with it grows the need to find a bigger place. You cannot work with your mother or your wife constantly calling you for something or the other, or your kids who want to spend time with you, and can’t understand why daddy can’t play with them. And, why entrepreneurs, even professionals or freelancers feel the need to get out of their home and find a stimulating environment to work.
And, that’s where co-working comes into the picture. Co-working is a recently developed practice that allows freelancers, entrepreneurs, and remote professionals to enjoy the benefits of working in a fully stocked group office, without losing the benefits and freedom of being an independent worker. The best of both worlds, you see!
Tracing the benefits
Apart from saving you the time-consuming task of searching for an office space with a broker, a co-working space offers you a host of intangible benefits like:
Co-working spaces come fully loaded including wifi, tea/coffee machines, microwave ovens, scanners, and printers. Not only startups do not need to burden the cost of setting up an office and pay hefty rentals on office spaces, but they also need not worry about maintenance of the office. It’s even good for large corporations who want to set up an office in the city without buying an office space.
Perks and amenities
Co-working spaces offer unbeatable perks and facilities that an upcoming startup will never be able to afford otherwise. Social Café across India provides high-speed internet, on demand conference room, and you can even redeem the entire membership fee for food and drinks during your work timings, while Our First Office at Nariman Point, Mumbai, offers art, aromatic candles, soft spa like music, freshly brewed coffee/tea and mineral water. Then, there is Jaaga in Bangalore that offers Yoga on the terrace, while 91 Springboard in Delhi provides lockers/document storage, and discounted medical insurance.
Co-working spaces are designed to inspire creativity and promote exchanging of ideas. According to Deskmag’s annual Global Co-Working Survey, 71% report a boost in creativity since joining a co-working space and 62% said their standard of work had improved in a co-working space. You can discuss your ideas with fellow co-workers, get feedback from them, be inspired by one of their projects or find a mentor who can guide you on your project. Sharing your challenges and opportunities also gives you a reality check or the push in the right direction, which you can seldom find while working alone or in a coffee shop.
For people who fear that they might not like a particular office space, there are co-working spaces that offer options such as a day pass or trial period. Places like Social Café have day and monthly desk plans that you can cancel anytime you like.
Collaboration and networking
A huge advantage of co-working is that you are working under the same roof with professionals belonging to different fields. You get to meet new people, future alliances or collaborators, potential partners and technical experts who can make your work/startup journey easier. Spaces like BHiVe and Jaaga in Bangalore host regular speaker events or workshops to assist entrepreneurs, and membership includes access to cross-industry mentors, while Jack Your Startup in Hyderabad provides mentoring, VC connect, and marketing benefits.
Related Article: White Unicorn Ventures Debuts In Co-Working Space
Looking at the drawbacks
However, the picture of co-working is not as rosy as it looks. Just under the surface of the co-working world, problems like productivity and long-term sustainability are developing gradually. This raises a big debate – whether co-working stations are the new workspace or the latest hangout? Let’s look at the drawbacks of co-working spaces:
- Co-working can be a noisy affair. There are scores of people working around you. People around you will make calls, move around, and talk to each other. It might pose a problem if you get easily distracted. If you are concentrating on something, even the noise from the printer might annoy you.
- People tend to socialize and discuss non-work-related issues like the last night’s cricket or football match.
- It’s only natural that conflicts will arise occasionally when you are sharing space with others.
- You might find yourself sharing co-working space with someone who is in direct competition. It can be a bit uncomfortable or restricted if you are working on anything secret or don’t want to reveal your project to anyone else.
Looking at the bigger picture
There is no doubt that these spaces are alive with the collaboration and synergy of people who share the same workspace. But you must not ignore the fact that these co-working spaces can be distracting and sometimes kill productivity. A combination of interesting people, various perks and the constant bustle of creative minds at work can make it tough to stay on-task.
However, if you are considering opting for a co-working space, it’s advisable to weigh the pros and cons and do a reality check:
- Do not fall for the first co-working space that provides you in-house gym and 3-D printer. Look for the hidden disadvantages. Is the space too noisy or do you find more people chatting at the water cooler than at their workstations? These kinds of problems might result in a drop in productivity and affect your performance. Look for co-working spaces that offer soundproof or private workspaces, or conference rooms for those super important meetings or calls.
- Check if the location is convenient for you or if there is ample working space. You don’t want to waste time looking for an ideal parking spot or waste money on hiring cabs. The Playce in Mumbai and The Mesh in Pune provide car parking space to their members. Also, check if you can access the workspace round the clock in case you want to meet a deadline or want to take a break in the middle of the day to go to the gym.
- Amenities and perks might look attractive. But, at the end of the day work needs to be completed. Opt for a place that focuses on productivity and helps ensure that customers succeed in their endeavors.
- Find out what extra incentives does the co-working space offer. Does it organize founders’ meet or events where you can meet industry experts? Matrix Partners India and K Raheja Corp’s The Space in Mumbai, a co-working space not only provides periodic functional sessions with industry experts but might also sometimes invest in your startup or provide you incubation.
- Try out a co-working facility for a few days or weeks to examine the favourability of that place. Is there too much noise, does it provide the right mix of people or do you gel well with your co-workers?
There is no denying the fact that the co-working movement is here to stay. It has redefined the way people work. However, it’s extremely important that every co-working space provides well-curated work experience over and above a well-designed work environment to promote productivity, collaboration and community building.
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