Co-working in India is a relatively new concept and many are unaware of it, but it is slowly and steadily making its mark. In places like Ahmadabad, Bangalore, Hyderabad, Mumbai and Delhi, various co-working spaces have opened up, facilitating the freelance individuals and startups to grow with one another.
Co-working is more of a social movement than a business trend. The people who are a part of a co-working environment feel a sense of community and the concept of 'Grow and Let Grow' is very evident in such collaborations. This I tell from my personal experience of working at Lowfundwala Productions.
We share our office space with two other startup companies , Nightly Builds & Kreaserv. The first day I entered the office , I saw the company's 22 year old founder Kashyap Swaroop sitting on a bean bag conducting workshop with a young crew of production professionals on an upcoming shoot, while Arjun, CEO- Nightly Builds, trying to ascertain if staying over in office for two days straight was taking a toll on his scent. Coffee and games in the main office area, and cigarettes in the hot room, were the main accompaniments to conversations on topics ranging from innovative apps to ads that work. It wasn't all madness, though. The office was clearly segregated into three zones occupied by the three startups. From manufacturing the desks to decorating the office , everything was done by the founders. This was bootstrapping to a whole new level. The vibe of a co-working environment is constructively competitive & casual at the same time.
The key benefit of working in a shared space with other enterprising entrepreneurs is the constant, readily available sounding board to validate ideas. You could look at it as a support group of like-minded individuals.
Brainstorming across disciplines is commonplace in a shared space. And it's FREE!
You need help with something that is outside of your skill set but you can't afford to hire someone? In a co-working environment, You can find someone around the office who could help you with it for a few hours. At a startup, working overtime for a lesser salary can be quite frustrating. "People are never fed up to work over time. They are frustrated if they put in lot of hard work into something that goes unappreciated. That is why we make it a point to appreciate every individual in our office." says Arjun Jindam on keeping his force motivated despite the long working hours at a start up
Why choose a co-working space over working from home? The best reason, perhaps, could be the fact that when working from an office space, there's a clear distinction between personal and professional lives. Working from home and staying up till 4 a.m. to get a project done can be disruptive to the household. Going to office with a mission of achieving goals can significantly improve productivity. Oprah Winfrey once said, “Surround yourself only with people who are going to lift you higher.” In other words, if you want to be successful, you have to surround yourself with successful people. A communal office space is a formula for success because it’s filled with like-minded, entrepreneurial spirits like you! With the right people around to encourage, inspire, and motivate you, growing will come naturally.
Having a shared office space can be great but, like anything else, it has its own drawbacks. "DISTRACTION! Someone is playing Xbox while you are tending to a client over the phone. Your company might be overdosed with work while the other might be absolutely free. At such times, you need to keep yourself focused and not get carried away." says Kashyap about the drawbacks of co - working. Working in a co-working space can be quite similar to living with your family. It is imperative to adjust to other people's habits , quirks and styles. Therefore, the most important activity to maintain harmonious co-habitation in office is to communicate and have a mutual understanding on what limits you can't cross.
You need to claim your own workspace. If you are sharing an office , you should have a small section in it which you can call your own. You need to adapt to other's work habits. A lot of people have trouble staying organized. If your co-worker is one of them , instead of criticizing him, help him organize his stuff. Take the extra mile by brewing a coffee pot for the entire office. They would love you for taking that effort. Give each other some privacy. If one of you is getting a private call , it's best to walk out of the office and talk than letting the whole office know about it. Sometimes it's okay, but if attending private calls in office becomes a regular habit for a colleague, you can politely tell them about how you find it disturbing and that they could attend it outside office.
Although , sharing an office does have a few cons, the pros outweigh them by a mile. Low rent, community support , honest feedback, people to bounce your ideas, network into other industries...all of this can't be achieved by sitting at home alone working on an idea. Co-working spaces provide the exact environment needed for a startup to grow into something big.
P.S. - If you'd like to explore potential co-working spaces, check out Mycuteoffice. Our friend Abhishek Barari is onto something big with this one.
(Content intern, LFW)