When ambitious entrepreneurs begin their journey, the major impediment is to search for a work or office space. In this new age, where the way we work has changed; coworking spaces have redefined the way entrepreneurs approach their work.
As a freelancer, co-working space was almost a utopian solution for me. I wasn’t even aware of this concept and was searching for a library or a hall where I could peacefully sit, write and work. But, as I began searching for such a space, it looked like it could be possible for me to get something more, like a wi-fi connection, coffee machine, proper space to sit comfortably, couches, conference room, attendant, mailing address and plus a vivacious environment. Thus, I was introduced to the concept of coworking space.
A new office started in San Francisco in 2005, called the San Francisco Coworking Space. For the first time, it provided place for startups to work and collaborate; an office where they could sit untroubled and work. If you work from home, it makes you isolated at times, so today, coworking spaces are a big sound relief as a remedy to the problem providing the exposure and letting you be a professional in your own desired way.
Services or products spring from some deficiency in the market, a need gap that is fulfilled. And coworking space is one such concept that provided a perfect solution to the woes of freelancers and start-up entrepreneurs.
WeWork is one such coworking space that kicked off in Boston in the year 2010, and is now valued at $16 billion after raising another round of funds recently.
WeWork is aggressively expanding and has enrolled more than 50,000 customers (read members) at 77 locations around the world. It has witnessed the inception and growth of many small businesses. WeWork has also been a place where employees of large companies working from remote locations, chose it as their working place. One can get dedicated desks and fully equipped conference rooms there.
The best part of creating a space in such an arrangement is that you sit closely, so invariably you chat, exchange ideas, and find solutions if you are facing a challenge; long story short, this all happens with like-minded people. You chat with people from varied work cultures and industries. It gives an exposure of how the world is innovating, launching ideas and selling them.
You interact with people from varied professions. Also, you get to hear the experiences of leaders who battle challenges to get some solid advice to scale up your businesses. It becomes an entirely different experience of learning, least to say!
So, all in all, these shared office spaces are transforming the way we do business and work. There are a lot of companies who have 3 to 5 employees, they have a cash flow but, they don’t have enough investment to rent a place. Thus, coworking spaces rent a cubicle, an office on month-to-month basis to provide the environment and resources of an office. Doesn’t it look like a perfect solution? Now, freelancers working from coffee shops or backyards have a proper office with amenities and a work environment.
Day-in and day-out you meet people from varied backgrounds and get used to interacting with them, which gives a sense of community. You develop connections that you cannot develop in a closed office environment. This gives each one of them a feeling that they are doing something considerably different, interesting and distinct.
Since these spaces are open 24×7, you can decide when to work for extra hours or if you decide to work for lesser hours you can. It gives you a control over your work hours, and aren’t force to look at the number of hours spent. It provides you liberty! It is rather the number of productive hours you spent that are calculated.
WeWork, “seeks to create a place you join as an individual, ‘me’, but where you become part of a greater ‘we’.”
The social mission as inscribed in Coworking Manifesto (members from more than 1,700 coworking spaces have signed this online document) is, “Coworking movement aspires to including community, learning, sustainability and collaboration’.
So, everyone who visits a coworking space is a part of this social movement.
Companies like Apple, Facebook and Google are redefining their work spaces or offices too. Apple offices are designed to represent the obsession that Steve Jobs had with simplicity. While Google offices are colourful and designs are bold and avant-garde. Apart from the design, they are changing the way their team works.
Employees at Google don’t have a permanent desk. Everything depends on their task and schedule of the day, they have a laptop in hand and choose to work at a desk station, on a large conference table, couch or in a private room. They can choose the workspace that suits their task they wish to focus for that particular moment. There are wide open spaces that encourage collaborations, spots for informal meets and places for quiet work too.
Facebook’s office at Menlo Park infuses a culture of self-expression in its workplace. It has an artist in residency program which lets new artists contribute artistically. Employees are motivated to contribute their creations, art and are provided with walls where they can scrawl messages to each other. The workplace reflects the core values of Facebook with slogans around the campus like “Move Fast, Break Things” and “Fortune Favours the Bold”. This imbibes the culture of change and innovation.
Recently, India’s unicorn startup, Paytm has collaborated with Innov8 for their Bengaluru office. Coworking spaces are redefining the way we work and challenging the traditional offices. Above everything else, coworking spaces are building a community of workers who swear by flexibility, creativity and freedom.
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