Of fluid offices
The evolution of work culture and office spaces is a welcome break for start-ups and young entrepreneurs
One of the best fallouts of my entrepreneurial journey has been fluid workspaces. Strict office confines always bored me. I never did believe that one has to be in office all the time to be actually productive. Similarly, it does not matter where one works from as long as the work gets done. Around the world, work culture has evolved and thankfully, it has caught up in India.
Many women, especially the ones with young children, prefer to work from home. It is easier, safer, hassle-free and, they are able to balance life better without having to sacrifice either. With several big corporates allowing 'work from home', it has helped many career-oriented women from falling off the professional bandwagon. Some companies even allow lesser compulsory office attendance, so you could go to office twice or thrice a week and work from home on the other days.
The entry and popularity of co-working spaces is yet another evolution of the conventional office. For young companies, establishment costs can drill a sizeable hole in the pocket. But with co-working spaces, costs are minimal while the amenities are akin to any corporate office. Your wifi, electricity, printing costs are all covered and you even get office assistants in some cases. It is a bonus that several co-working spaces offer opportunities to avail mentoring, networking, and community-building. With so much to offer, it is little wonder that shared office spaces are growing in Gurgaon, Bengaluru, Delhi, Mumbai, and Kolkata. WeWork, BHive, Nwook, 91Springboard, Awfis, etc. are all doing brisk business and the list is ever-growing.
A research report by JLL and WeWork last year predicted that co-working spaces are likely to get a whopping $400 million in investment by 2018. The segment itself was expected to grow by 40-50 per cent to reach over one million sq. ft. of leased 'alternative' workspaces by the end of 2017. With almost 100 per cent occupancy, in at least the branded co-working spaces, the tribe of co-working spaces is fast increasing. Add to it the cost savings of 20-25 per cent and every fledgling entrepreneur gets the most bang for his buck.
Full marks too to senior professionals who have broken corporate shackles and are as open to discussing a work deal with young entrepreneurs and professionals across a coffee table as they are in a boardroom. These changing mindsets have made work fun, saved young entrepreneurs from heavy establishment cost bills, and the embarrassment of not being able to 'keep up with the Joneses'.
Start-ups and the new economy have heralded a novel change in what was once the 'office'. Even where there is the need for an office, the caged cubicles have made way for open workspaces with greenery, light, bright hues, foosball tables and bean bags. The idea is to make work enjoyable and employees should look forward to coming to work. If they are happy at work, they will be the most productive. A content staff also means lower attrition rates; therefore, the management also saves in training and orientation of new employees – a win-win for all.
A busy Starbucks for meetings, a quiet café for writing, a green park for ideation, or the study in my flat to meet urgent deadlines, are welcome workspaces. The small team of people who work for me full-time and part-time are located in different parts of India and a few are overseas too. Helped by digital tools, we communicate frequently, we plan diligently and execute professionally. I don't need them in my face all day to see tangible results. Personally, I know I can't avoid putting down office roots forever and have already started scouting for spaces. But for the moment, I am enjoying being free.
(The writer is a journalist and media entrepreneur. The views expressed are strictly personal)