What is Coworking?
You are a freelancer. You work at cafes.
You cannot concentrate because it’s a public place. It’s not a suitable place to meet clients. The chairs feel uncomfortable after a while. The lights feel too dim for work.
Company X is an MNC. It wants to open a new office. Company X is aware of the incredible capital expenditure that comes with a new office space.
How does Company X solve its problem?
The solution to both the above problems is coworking space.
Coworking spaces help companies of different sizes easily shift to flexible and well-designed office spaces. The cost incurred is significantly less as there are no long term obligations and capital expenditure involved.
So you will be able to complete my freelance work in an office that inculcates efficiency and Company X also gets a beautifully and optimally designed office space that extracts the best performance out of its employees.
If we put it simply, coworking is a business service provision model where an organisation offers office space to individuals or other organisations independently or collaboratively.
The benefits that a coworking space offers are many, but the main ones are that it is affordable, provides vast networking opportunities, offers flexible office spaces and also, a wide range of amenities that make work easier for you.
The vision that gave birth to coworking spaces was the desire to build communities where people from different backgrounds and organisations would come together and work in the same space and benefit from each other.
Coworking is not just a static place but also where the 3 co’s converge: Cooperation, Collaboration, and Community.
Why Coworking Spaces?
Now that we have a fair idea of what coworking spaces are, the next question to be asked is what’s so special about coworking spaces.
Let me convince you.
Flexible Office Spaces
Coworking spaces offer much more flexibility than a regular office space. Coworking spaces offer you 24×7 access facility.
The biggest benefit of working from home is that you can work at any given point of time. A Coworking space aspires to combine the benefits of work from home and traditional office space.
At coworking spaces, you can enter at any time and leave at any time. It is completely according to your personal work hours. This sort of flexibility is not provided by the traditional office.
No Capital Expenditure
Furniture, maintenance costs and technical infrastructure costs are some of the major expenses that companies have to bear when they’re buying a new office space. But when you choose coworking space options, you do not have to buy these.
You simply rent them for some time and pay on a daily, weekly or monthly basis.
Coworking spaces increase profit by reducing costs. This is one of the most important reasons why organisations are letting go of their traditional offices and embracing the concept of coworking. And given the cost-cutting strategies of companies due to the coronavirus pandemic, this is a great benefit.
Networking with the Community
There is nothing more important for businesses today than networking.
Coworking offices include professionals and organisations working in different spheres. The person sitting opposite you may work for an organisation that supplies products or services similar to what you need.
This is how coworking offices provide scope for networking.
Networking has become even more necessary due to the pandemic. Owing to the lack of employment opportunities, it has become very hard to connect with people for networking. Networking in such a time can prove to be a huge benefit!
Wide Range of Amenities
On average, employees work for 9-10 hours a day. In such a situation, it is necessary to provide them with an environment that looks after their leisure needs. This helps increase employee satisfaction and retention.
Nowadays, more and more organisations are including perks in their offices like fitness centres, cafes, high-speed wireless internet access, conference rooms and many more.
It is not always possible to buy office spaces with such amenities as they cost a lot of money.
The coronavirus has messed with everyone’s mental health. It is difficult to shift from the work from home mode to the office mode. In such a scenario, it becomes necessary to make the transition smoother by increasing exposure to leisurely facilities.
No Long Term Commitments
More and more freelancers and organisations are choosing coworking spaces because they do not come with any long term commitments. Coworking spaces can be rented for a day, a week or a month depending on the organisation’s choice and needs.
Organisations do not need to commit to one single office for a long period. This results in optimal cost management.
Engaging with Prospective Clients and Referrals of Members
Coworking offers excellent opportunities to be introduced to clients. Here’s an example that will be easy to follow.
Company ABC, an analytics firm and Company XYZ, an e-commerce giant share a coworking space. Company XYZ wants to avail a solution to one of its problems that involves analytics.
If both these companies were located at separate locations, XYZ would have to choose a firm that would be best suited to its needs.
This would lead to a loss of resources. Instead, because ABC can provide the solution to XYZ’s problem, the latter does not have to look anywhere else. There’s also the added advantage that both companies will know what the other needs and will be able to communicate properly, thanks to the coworking space that they both share.
Great Designing for Better Productivity
The whole point of opting for coworking spaces is to ditch the traditional office cubicle.
The goal is to build an ambience where people want to work. Designing a workplace to bring out the best in people is what coworking spaces aim for.
Statistics and Insights: Changing Dynamics
Coworking spaces are a thing of the future. The days of fixed traditional are gone. And the statistics are here to prove that!
In 2018, around 2,188 coworking spaces were opened worldwide.
Projections show that 2019 will be a slow year for the coworking industry. The reason is that existing office spaces are converting into coworking spaces instead of new coworking spaces being set up.
The year to year growth in 2018 was 15.2% while in 2019, it dropped to 9.5%.
The number of coworking spaces from 2019 to 2022 is expected to increase by 42%. In 2022, the number of coworking spaces around the world is expected to touch 25,968.
There has been an average increase in coworking spaces around 2,595 since 2015.
If we look deeper into the statistics of coworking spaces growth, we can see that brand new businesses make about around 65.3% of the growth, while organisations that are expanding and coworking chains make up the remaining 34.7%.
This shows that even though a good part of the market is made up of coworking organisations that are expanding, the larger part of the industry is still made up by first-timers.
If we look at India, there is a huge increase in the number of coworking spaces in Mumbai, from less than 10 spaces in 2015 to more than 50 spaces in 2019. Demand for coworking spaces is still above the supply in Mumbai.
The success of coworking spaces in Ahmedabad has shown that this industry does place in areas that have institutions that encourage the entrepreneurial spirit.
Several analytics studies have shown that there is a strong correlation between the presence of top tier institutions and cost of coworking spaces.
With the news of new IITs and IIMs opening up in Tier 2 and Tier 3 cities in India, it is just a matter of time before the coworking space culture takes the nation by storm.
Who Works in a Coworking Space?
The reason the culture of coworking is so unique is because of its “Unity in Diversity” principle.
Coworking spaces play host to freelancers, startups as well as Multi-National Corporations.
By 2020, there are expected to be 1.3 million freelancers working in coworking spaces. This is proof enough of how popular coworking spaces are among freelancers.
Freelancers cannot afford office spaces, thus their options remain restricted to cafes and homes. Cafes and homes may be many things but they fail to offer a suitable ambience for work.
This is where coworking spaces step in. Coworking spaces offer freelancers the perfect mix of individuality and networking.
A major reason why there has been an unprecedented growth in the number of coworking spaces is due to the boom in startup culture.
Startups need to devote more resources into research and development and less on office infrastructure. Individuals working at startups are also not comfortable with the 9-5 office culture or the suit and tie culture.
They prefer working in a more informal work setup.
This is where coworking spaces win them over. Coworking spaces offer them 24×7 access that is a major feature of startup culture. Coworking spaces offer them the perfect blend of work and play that they excel in.
MNCs, too, are realizing the advantages of shifting to coworking spaces. Apart from the obvious cost advantage, they also benefit from networking.
These big organizations benefit from collaborating and cooperating with startups and freelancers.
Coworking spaces also create an ambience where large organizations can extract the best performance out of their employees.
Setting up a coworking space requires in-depth research of amenities to be included.
A few basic amenities should be included in a niche coworking space or a larger coworking business. As you plan your business, try to include the following coworking spaces amenities.
Caffeinated and Non-Caffeinated Beverages
All traditional offices have coffee and water. Thus, the same should be available in every coworking space. Offering beverages such as organic tea or fresh juice blends can also be considered.
Every decent coworking space has a cafeteria. Fresh fruit, chips and other snacks can be a good idea.
Every successful coworking space should try to keep at least some snacks on hand, and you can make this as simple or complex as you want.
Access control systems are a key part of shared office spaces since they provide security and make it possible for members to get in and out.
Compared to other access methods, an access control system, like that at Kisi, is much more convenient since you do not need a receptionist or security guard constantly monitoring who enters. The best choices can even be controlled via a smartphone for seamless access and no need to carry extra items.
While all coworking spaces offer wireless internet, including ethernet connections can set you apart.
Wireless and Wired Internet
It should go without saying that you cannot have a shared office space without providing members with a decent Internet connection.
Be sure to include both wireless and wired options to appeal to members.
Phone and Meeting Rooms
To maximize productivity and efficiency for members, every coworking space should have a place to hold a meeting or make a phone/video call as part of their design. These are crucial parts of any space and are incredibly common.
Printing is a crucial part of every office, be it traditional or coworking. Proper printing equipment in a shared office space is a necessity nowadays that every coworker needs.
Space Options in a Coworking Space
Given the many types of entities that opt for shared office spaces like freelancers, startups and big organisations, it is necessary to have different membership options that will allow its members to choose the membership option that is most suitable for them.
There are 3 major membership options available:
Flexible Desk membership option gives its members access to the coworking space but the members do not get assigned a particular desk on a fixed given day. Members who opt for this option change desks daily.
Members who opt for this membership plan enjoy the basic benefits such as access to meeting rooms, community events, discounts and so on.
This option is mainly chosen by freelancers who do not have the supplies that they want to set up at their workspace.
Dedicated Seats are exactly the opposite of Flexible Seats. Members who opt for the Dedicated Seat membership plan are assigned the same workspace every day.
This is beneficial for individuals who want more personal space and storage space.
Freelancers who do have supplies that they want to set up at their workspace opt for Dedicated Seat membership plan.
Private Cabins are membership options built to cater to small startups. The pricing of Private Cabins varies, depending on the size of the office and the number of people who can use the membership.
The major advantage of opting for Private Cabins membership plan is that it allows members to have the privacy of their own office as well as interact with their coworking partners.
Most membership options provide benefits such as beverages, high-speed internet, wi-fi, printing.
There may also be differences in facilities with more pricey membership options including 24×7 access, extra printing privileges or additional access to conference rooms.
Want to know more about coworking space options, check out Workstreet for detailed options and pricing!
Pricing of Coworking Spaces
Minimizing costs is one of the major motivators behind freelancers and organisations opting for coworking spaces. So pricing is a major aspect of coworking spaces that has to be paid attention to.
Shared office spaces all over the country offer a variety of membership plans for various business entities, ranging from freelancers and startups to big organisations.
How much coworking space costs may also depend on the designing, the number of people it can accommodate, its location and also the amenities available.
In India, the pricing should be such as to ensure that it does not prove to be too exorbitant for the freelancer and also so that the organisation owning the shared office space does not suffer losses.
The pricing plans for the various membership plans in coworking spaces in India are:
Flexible Desks: Coworking spaces offer Flexible Desk membership plans per month for as low as INR 4,000 and they can go up to INR 15,000. The cost depends on where the coworking space is located, what amenities it can offer and the overall feel-good design of the space
Dedicated Desks: Dedicated Desks offered by shared office spaces in India can cost you anything in the range of INR 6,000 per month to INR 30,000 per month
Private Cabins: Private Cabins offered to startups or big organisations cost anything in the range of INR 8,000 per month to INR 50,000 per month
Weekender: The hourly rent for a coworking space ranges between INR 300 to INR 40,000.
Now, we’ll focus on how shared office space prices vary in different areas in the country.
Mumbai is the most expensive place in India for coworking on average. Coworking prices in Mumbai have increased by 35% since 2016.
Bhopal is the cheapest city if you want a shared office space in India. Low cost of living and lack of coworking spaces in the city is what drives down the prices.
Bangalore, the tech city, sees the widest range of prices ranging from INR 2000 to INR 21,000. Bangalore has also seen a 50% rise in coworking space prices from INR 5250 in 2016 to INR 8050 in 2019.
Delhi NCR, as opposed to Bangalore, has the least variation in coworking prices in India. Prices range from INR 4,900 to INR 12,600.
The Coworking Life
Shared office spaces give freelancers, remote and independent workers the opportunity to network, collaborate and chat with each other. It’s all about creating a community that can bring together an often wide variety of members.
One of the best ways to attract people to a coworking space is to host events that provide that sense of community.
Tech and other meetup groups are always looking for new spaces to gather. Many shared office spaces open their doors once a month or so to a meetup group. This is a great way to attract new members and show off the coworking space.
This serves two purposes. Marketing as well as networking.
Tech Talks are organised at shared office spaces. It is a good idea to centre each event around a different time or even a different type of catering.
These tech talks help coworkers upgrade their skills, which in turn increases the popularity of coworking spaces.
Many shared office spaces partner up with local businesses and host a weekend hackathon. The local business is perhaps owned by someone who is a member of the shared office space.
Hackathons ultimately help in networking.
When hackathons are organised, the skills of coworkers become apparent and thus, it brings potential partners closer to one another.
Coworking spaces also invite local entrepreneurs who are members of that coworking space to tell their success stories. Their success stories include the obstacles they encountered or still do and the lessons they learnt or are learning along the way.
Shared Office Spaces are the thing of the future. Freelancers, startups and large organizations are all flocking to shared office spaces spaces due to the multiple benefits that they offer. With the boom in startup culture, the growth of coworking spaces is bigger than ever.
Coworking spaces are the perfect centres of collaboration and cooperation that help individuals and organizations grow their business through networking and by reducing costs.