From beer-on-tap to testing an app for a donut, here’s how co-working spaces are bidding traditional offices goodbye

WeWork Delhi
  • India is home to over 200 co-working spaces and their seats are filling out fast.
  • But their popularity is surging because they are more than just office rental spaces.
  • In India, co-working spaces had leased about 2.9 million square feet in area just between January-March 2019.
Dhruv Mullick, a sports management professional who handles Mayank Agarwal, the Indian test cricketer, used to work out of a Starbucks in Bengaluru . But one day when he had to sign a confidential legal contract, he needed an office space. He walked into WeWork in Churchstreet, Bengaluru, signed up for a membership for half a month in December, 2018. Today, he runs a business out of there.

American entrepreneur Carolyn Horner needed to do a beta testing for her app, all she had to do was look across the room, offer a free donut and in return get real-time validation for her product. Horner, the co-founder of Jenzy, an app that makes it easy for parents to find the right fit shoes for young children, could do all of this just by sitting at her desk at WeWork in Philadelphia.

Mullick and Homer are among many entrepreneurs who have embraced co-working around the world for their many benefits, ranging from affordability to a chance to network to finding business deals.

In India, co-working spaces have opened up in almost every other corner of big cities and are now also entering Tier 2 and 3 cities in India. They have found favour with entrepreneurs mainly for convenience, affordability, and a place to network and become a part of a community, without having to invest in real estate.

With seat prices starting as low as ₹7,000 a month at some places, many of these places can be a steal for business owners. According to a report done by property consultant Knight Frank, as of 2018, there were about 200 co-working spaces in India, with the likes of WeWork, Regus, Awfis etc., being the most popular.

Such has been the craze of co-working spaces in India, that WeWork which launched in the country in 2017, already contributes to ₹6,788 crore of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) across its centres in Delhi-NCR, Mumbai and Bengaluru.

Not just seat sharing

But co-working spaces are evolving from being just seat sharing office spaces to a hub of mentorship from experienced professionals, giving entrepreneurs a chance to test their products before it goes live or just fall back on their peers when they are at a fix.

Many co-working spaces also encourage networking events which also include beer-on-tap, creating a fun work environment, one which millennials love.

And Amit Ramani, CEO of Awfis points it out – a millennial wants a break every hour and a half. “The fundamental question is if an office just has a meeting room and seats, where does that millennial go? The infrastructure with new age technology has even attracted corporates to co-working spaces - which offer activity-based settings,” Ramani told Business Insider.

Infrastructure happens to be the key attraction of a co-working space. Mishu Ahluwalia, Founder & CEO, GoHive, a co-working space based out of Delhi NCR, believes that in a co-working environment a startup gets open access to a whole pool of networks which they can leverage for mentorship, vendor empanelment, recruiting and peer to peer learning.

The model has worked so well that now co-working spaces are making money off offering services and building partnerships with corporates.

“Co-working spaces now make focused efforts to give a bouquet of business services (including the likes of accounting, recruitment help, employee engagement, knowledge exchange, training) and on building value-added services, partner discounts and specific startup friendly rate charts to increase engagement within members and amidst people,” said Ahluwalia.

Mullick, five months after he went into WeWork, has now set up his own firm – zlait Sports Bangalore LLP. “It was only because of the community which really motivated me to start up. You meet so many diverse professionals and get to bounce your ideas off them,” he told Business Insider.

And the popularity of this shared workspaces is only set to grow. Reports suggest that co-working spaces had leased about 2.9 million square feet in area just between January-March 2019, and this data comes from just seven cities.

See Also:
WeWork's India chief is inviting Jet Airways staff to apply for jobs
Here are the 25 most popular workplaces in India, according to LinkedIn
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