High ceilings, friendly sunshine through huge French windows, and gorgeous splashes of colour welcome you to a new world. A world that allows you to cherry-pick your work space.
Be it a spacious phone booth or a 1950s detective's office, a 'Sherlockian' study, or even a Greek garden; this world is commonly known as a co-working or collaborative space.

It involves a shared working environment of a group of independent individuals, who are looking for a place that is conducive to their style of working but don't mind sharing this place with other like-minded people and are interested in the synergy that is produced by different minds working together in this space


Today, the very nature of work has changed. Way back, people had one career or one job their whole life. Many years down the line, it became two. A generation later, many started switching jobs every 3-4 years. Now, this trend has shifted into people wanting to do different things at the same time. This has led to the need for co-working and collaborative spaces, explains Shobita Kadan, Director – Marketing & Strategy, IMPRESARIO handmade restaurants, the parent company of Social - a hangout that skilfully combines work and play and has outlets in Mumbai, Bangalore, and New Delhi. The system of working within four walls and 50,000 rules and regulations is dying out a little bit. More and more younger people want to work in a space, which allows for creativity to flow and for them to interact and network. Co-working and collaborative workspaces is where the future is going. It's a huge and viable change


As the demand for co-working spaces increase, and all and sundry go ahead with plans to open such spaces, one needs to keep in mind certain factors, clarifies Rohan Sabharwal, Co-Founder, CraYon Impact, a design and innovation social enterprise, focussed on leveraging various creative media and artists, based out of Mumbai. "Co-working spaces are offices and should function like them. No matter what the decor or feel, we have to get work done and one must be mindful that while promoting the recreational aspect, the workspace in itself should allow for silences, thought, and be as free as possible from distraction. All offerings, whether connectivity, conferencing or even stationery must be made available" Simply put, your space needs to work as hard as the people who work in it. It might be through the combination of people you have on board; like a writer, a musician, and an app creator. It can be for example through arranging the film screening of an independent film maker who uses your space. It could be through a marketing or PR push of a member's work. It may be support through skill-building workshops and networking opportunities with the right people. Basically being more than just a venue for the communities that you house


A prerequisite when hunting for a good workspace is cost. Most co-working spaces across the country work within a similar ballpark. One could be looking at anywhere between INR 2,500 - 10,000 per month on an average. This figure also works out to pretty much the same if a group of about 4-5 people rent out a 1-2 BHK in the suburbs and use it as a co-working space. The added advantage of choosing a mainstream co-working environment are of course the luxuries of a café/bar, part or full of your paid amount being redeemable on food and drinks, while you work, and access to all the outlets of that particular co-working space, no matter where in the country you might be


Collaboration is another game changer that has allowed for dynamic spaces to develop. Different minds, new thoughts, novel talents can get together to work on projects that benefit greatly from forged alliances, feels Balraj Singh Ghai, Owning Partner, G&G Ventures LLP, owners of Tuning Fork, a community building platform, in the suburbs of Mumbai, for music and art born out of collaboration. "At Tuning Fork, our model revolves around the idea of collaborating to create new content. We believe that art in any form - be it music, poetry, comedy, storytelling, painting, photography etc. should have a platform. So we created a stage that enables people to showcase their talent and encourages partnerships to create new concepts"


While the path for co-working and collaborative work spaces looks optimistic, it is not without challenges. Anyone who creates such a cosmos needs to first understand the limitations and then work from there in order to build a sustainable environment


A major test is staying ahead of the curve. What more are you doing for the people using your area and how do you constantly create value for that? Shobita believes that the idea is to shape the community that works within this universe. "At Social, we constantly work towards giving the creative community the opportunity to better their own game, assisting them in growing their business. We persistently strive in taking things to the next level without just being a table to occupy. We are relentless in asking ourselves - How are we giving them more than what they can get elsewhere?"


There is, of course, this fine line between engagement and interference. Rachana Iyer, Co-Founder, CraYon Impact, is of the opinion that one should not be overbearing or over enthusiastic in your role as a community manager. "Understand people's need for privacy from interaction and conversation beyond a certain point. Working toward creating a safe environment and reinforcing what will and will not be accepted, is crucial at the onset"


Money is only one part of the investment agenda, but often becomes the one hindrance. This happens when one loses sight of creating an atmosphere conducive to varied work styles that encourages the fruition of creativity and collaboration. "We wanted to create a space that leads to producing the best of an art form, while not letting money be the motivation," describes Balraj. "Once the stage becomes a commercial one, only those performers that attract a crowd would get a chance to perform, thus sidelining amateurs and rendering our concept a futile one. Instead, our food and beverage sales is what we concentrate on in order to get back our returns"


So, be it every day of the week, or just a meeting or a brain storming session; a change of scenery, a cosy environment, which allows for new ideas and inspiration; now that's the clarion call that's being answered by this entrepreneurial vehicle called co-working spaces. Understanding every entrepreneur and their business so that one can tailor-make packages, creating meaningful engagement across the spectrum, recreational activities, events, performances, redeemable coupons, and distinguishing your space through constant innovation are just some of the equations that are a part of this winning formula. If the scene so far is anything to go by, we are building a vibrant ecosystem for all the explorers, trailblazers, swashbucklers, and pioneers out there. You never know, you may just be providing the space for a brain that invents something as simple as self-tying shoes or as fun as the hoverboard scooter or as lifesaving as a superior stethoscope or as creative as a musical instrument that anyone can master!

As shared with IFIN Panorama Editorial Team

About the Author
Ayesha Dominica, is a fiercely independent writer, published since age 13. When she's not intimidating strangers with her love for polysyllabic words, she works as an artist manager for DJ Russel. She is prone to withdrawal symptoms if distanced from her books and is easily distracted by the colour yellow


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