The whole concept of coworking was first described in 1999 by Bernie DeKoven, and explained how people could collaborate supported by new and upcoming technologies. It wasn’t until the mid-2000s, however, that actual co-work spaces were built in the US. By 2007, there were 75 such spaces around the world.
It’s 2017, and there are around 50 coworking zones in Mumbai itself! This kind of growth is phenomenal, considering that the idea caught on much later in India. Hyderabad, Bangalore, New Delhi and even Goa have innumerable co-working spaces now as well. Here’s the full list of co-work spaces in Mumbai.
The largest of cowork spaces is the upcoming WeWork, an entire 16-storeyed building in BKC. This New York City-based marque has spaces all around the world, with two upcoming in India – Mumbai and Bengaluru. Regus has the most branches – they have at least eighteen within city limits and more in neighbouring cities like Thane. Awfis comes in second place, has eight branches in Mumbai and has partnered with some five-star hotels to bring work spaces closer to travelers. Both Regus and Awfis have branches in the Domestic Airport as well – talk about convenience. What better to do than catch up on your work as you wait for your flight?
When it comes to aesthetics, Harkat (Versova) and The Ministry of New (Fort) would have to share the gold medal. At either of these places, it’s quite easy to forget that you’re working in an office. One might even be convinced that they’re sitting in a quaint old café in the Greek Isles, surrounded by light colours and the aroma of fresh coffee.
Are coworking spaces here to stay? A fairly large chunk of their customers are startups, and the startup bubble burst wide open last year as quarterly startup funding crashed to $583 mn in Q2 2016 from its peak of $2.9 bn. In Dec ‘16, HT’s Youth Survey revealed that over 58% of people think that startups will benefit the economy a lot less than expected. Not too great for the offices they sit in, right?
The news isn’t all bad. India’s economy is still growing much faster than the rest of the world so there’s huge potential for new companies to arise. Also, several companies that aren’t startups are also relocating to coworking spaces. Eg. AccessWork has a couple of NGOs running their operations there. Freelancers can book single desks all to themselves. People who aren’t from the city can also set up a temporary base at a coworking spaces.
Are 50 coworking spaces too many for Mumbai? Maybe not. Maybe 50’s too less. London, according to this guide, has 211 and Greater New York has 156. Any firm with 25 or fewer employees would benefit from shifting to one. They are full of life! A stimulating environment, fast internet, unlimited coffee and a clean work area, all taken care of by the coworking space. Why should a small company utilize time and money buying desks, arranging for cleaners and arguing with ISPs? They can concentrate in the core areas of their business while the cowork arranges for the nitty-gritties.
Another awesome part about coworking spaces is networking. In an ordinary office, it’s not that easy to network with people from other companies. When you cowork, you run into them all the time, especially in the pantry that pours infinite coffee. This means making new contacts, and potentially opening up new business opportunities.
A recent twist in the coworking industry has been restaurant coworking. WorkPlax allows you to rent a table in a restaurant for a few hours at a time, which works out cheaper than renting an office. This works out in favour of both the restaurant (business during hours of low traffic) and the startup (low cost workspace). However, it isn’t a long term solution. No restaurant can serve as your permanent office address! The pub chain Social also converts restaurants to offices for a few hours each day, allowing you to work at reasonable prices.
The coworking revolution has just begun, and it has brought numerous benefits. Most coworking spaces are branching out across the country and shown to be good not only from a user standpoint but also for their business potential – good enough that Awfis recently raised $20 million to build 100 new Awfis units all over India. Here’s to hoping that coworking stays put for the long term, makes our work life easier and turns us into more productive employees!
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Now that you have your coworking options sorted, next time you’re at a coworking space, fire up Ohai and start meeting professions that are working along you! Click here to download.
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