With the entrepreneurial boom setting India ablaze and multiple startups mushrooming in everyday, one tends to wonder how these early stratups create engagement for their employees and create a seamless working experience in a manner that matches up to working in any large MNC.
Co-working spaces are the obvious and much required solution to this problem. As the name suggest co-working is a place where people come and work on the projects together. It can be used by a small company with fewer employees or just a solo freelancer looking for a place to sit and work. For India, co-working is a fairly new concept that is getting extremely popular day by day.
Our Editor-in-chief, Ekta Capoor spoke with Francois Gramoli, Creative Director, WeWork and Yaron Ben Shoshan, General Manager, India South, WeWork to understand the nuances of a co-working environment, what experience it offers and how a well designed co-working setup gives startups the much needed energy and culture boost.
WeWork entered India in late 2016 through a joint venture with Bengaluru-based real estate developer Embassy Group. It started operations in July 2017 with the first co-working office space in Bengaluru. In 2017-18, the company completed six buildings across Mumbai, Gurgaon and Bengaluru. WeWork aims to double its leased space by the end of 2019 and is looking to enter newer markets such as Pune, Hyderabad, and Chennai by 2020.
- WeWork provides innovative workplace solutions for any type of member organisation, regardless of company size, maturity, or space needs.
- WeWork’s mission is to create a world where people work to make a life, not just a living
- WeWork is leading the change in the future of work, creating an environment that encourages collaborative thinking and community-building, and ultimately creates a more engaged workplace for members.
- WeWork came into India in July 2017, with backing from the Embassy Group. The first location set up was in Bengaluru. Since then, WeWork has expanded to 3 cities (Mumbai, Bangalore and NCR), with 21 locations and over 30,000 members. There are currently over 35,000 WeWork desks and over 50% of members are enterprise companies.
What are the various aspects that you need to consider while designing a coworking space?
The main objective of designing a coworking space is to keep in mind the functional and emotional needs of the members. Co-working spaces need to be designed in a way that allow members to interact with each other within the spaces that have been created for them.
At WeWork, the spaces are designed keeping the community at their core. Our goal is to create an environment that inspires collaboration, networking and interaction among our members. What makes WeWork different is that we look to design and engage in a holistic manner, and we work towards improving our members’ experiences. Whether a member is with us for a day or for a year, we aim to create environments that make them feel welcome, comfortable, next only to home. WeWork is a platform for creators and people who love what they do, so we design spaces that encourage them to humanize the way they work.
Credit: Francois Gramoli, Creative Director, WeWork
How has the concept of co-working spaces revolutionized and redefined the workspace culture for small entrepreneurs and solopreneurs in India?
In a coworking environment like WeWork, fresh off-the-block entrepreneurs, as well as established business owners work out of the same space. This enables them to network and understand the value of creating mutually beneficial partnerships. This leads to expansion of businesses and more avenues being opened up. Over 50% of our members are large enterprises. The rest are SMEs, startups, freelancers and entrepreneurs. Co-working also offers flexibility to these entrepreneurs. It gives them the tools and facilities to expand their business and present it in a way that’s comfortable for them. For example, it gives them the space to have one desk at a location, and allows them access to a well-designed conference room for meetings with investors and business partners.
What are the advantages of a Co-working environment viz a viz any other rental space. What are the various features that distinguish and make it a better choice?
India is one of the world’s most preferred markets to invest in today, thanks to its growing economy and excellent startup ecosystem. Businesses are growing and the demand for office space is growing as well. With real estate proving to be an expensive upfront cost, not only for startups who are only just signing on their first customer, but also enterprises, who would rather invest in business growth and people, coworking spaces have created for them an ideal solution.
Coworking environments have also proven to increase productivity. According to global research, 74% of coworkers are more productive, while 93% have a bigger social network and over two-thirds feel more creative because of collaboration. The culture at a coworking space is unique and different from a traditional workspace. It provides members with a work-life balance, giving them the flexibility to decide how they want to work, the space that suits them best, at a location that is close to home. WeWork offers a range of flexible plans that cater to the varied needs of our members. It also provides weekly events ranging from fitness classes, boot camps, seminars and lifestyle services.
How does a co-working environment generate engagement amongst its inhabitants?
Coworking environments look to create an ecosystem of members from across the globe, by enabling easy sharing of ideas and bringing a global perspective to their business, to help them grow. At WeWork, we have seen many of our members interacting and collaborating across industry domains and cultures. Over 70% of our members have collaborated with each other and 50% have ended up doing business together. This not only leads to multiple benefits for the members, but also encourages members by creating a community. WeWork has built values and a strong belief system, and this is what the WeWork experience is all about.
Credit: Yaron Ben Shoshan – General Manager, India South, WeWork