Innovative Models Entering Coworking Spaces

Sparsh Khandelwal, Founder, Stylework Young and talented entrepreneur, Sparsh is accomplishing his objective of constructing comfortable work spaces

Ever since the advent of coworking spaces around 2012, the industry has witnessed a massive growth over the years. It has revolutionised the way work is done, and not just for startups or freelancers but also MNCs, who are now looking for coworking spaces that fit their needs. About 13 million people are expected to work out of coworking spaces by 2020, making India the second-largest market for flexible work spaces, second only to China. Still an emerging and rapidly growing sector, the market for coworking spaces has doubled. While Bengaluru, Mumbai and Delhi NCR have emerged as the hub for co-working culture, the industry players are branching out to two tier cities as well now.

However, expansion in area isn’t enough. Innovation is the true test of an industry’s worth, and the coworking spaces are constantly updating and innovating themselves, not just to attract more customers but also to provide their customers with better services, and stay relevant. The competition in the sector is healthy, and has resulted in the development of many innovative models.

In cities where rents are sky rocketing, affording a place to work from is a dream for many. Coworking spaces have made this a reality for those who were once forced to scavenge for place. Many companies offer seats at very reasonable prices, with the range starting from as low as Rs.5000.

In addition to that they offer different kinds of passes. For example, there are Flexible Passes for those who don’t have a fixed time of work, there are Dedicated passes for those who work for a specific time period every day, and then there are Multi location Passes, for the wanderers who prefer to or need to work from different locations.

Niche spaces are also cropping up curated for a specific group of workers. Some companies offer flexible timings to cater to the needs of those night owls who prefer to work only when after the sun has set. Some spaces are women centric that aim at the pool of women who are looking for a safer work environment that they are comfortable working in. Then there are luxury spaces designed especially for high end
enterprises that prefer not to invest money in setting up their own office as leasing a coworking space is more economical.

Ancillary Services
Basic amenities such as high speed wifi, ergonomic seating, airconditioning, etc. are provided by every coworking space. They are the foundation of such spaces. However, there are spaces that go above and beyond to offer ancillary services for which their customers would have to otherwise hunt and look around, and waste their precious time. Legal services for all those contracts, a good Chartered Accountant to keep the accounts in order, Courier Services to make sure all the papers are delivered in time, etc. For many startups or freelancers these are extremely valuable services that help them make the right choice from among the many coworking spaces in the market.

Coworking spaces are realising that catering to their customers’ important nonwork needs and requirements is also essential

Community Building Events
Businesses do not thrive in silos. They need community engagement through workshops, seminars, conferences, etc. to expand their network learn, and grow. Coworking spaces, today, are focusing on conducting such events that help workers grow and learn. Some even have a dedicated calendar for hosting such events at the allocated areas in their workspaces, on a regular basis.

Child Care
Coworking spaces are realising that catering to their customers’ important non-work needs and requirements is also essential. In cities like Bengaluru, Mumbai and Delhi NCR, usually, both spouses are working, which makes child care difficult and a major cause of concern that usually affects productivity. Keeping true to their strength of improving worker productivity, many coworking spaces are coming with creches and other child care facilities that are secure and affordable.

While it’s every coworking space’s endeavour to make work as stress-free as possible for their clients, there are still health risks associated with a sedentary lifestyle that most of the urban working class leads today. Safety and security are imperative, and many coworking spaces have started to focus on these non-work needs of their customers, as well. While providing seats, some coworking spaces also offer insurance plans, such as health insurance, life insurance, disability cover, etc. It conveys that the wellbeing of their customers is always paramount.

Wellness & Fitness
Insurance isn’t the only way to say ‘we care’. There are other ways to take care of the clients, and many coworking spaces have come up with nap rooms, standing desks, and healthy/organic food cafeterias, that help the workers stay healthy while performing their best professionally. Some also offer spa and gym facilities, which can be also included in the price of the seat or the pass.

From discounts on meals at some restaurants to concession on a pass or another seat there are various benefits offered to clients by coworking spaces in order to attract customers. Every day, spaces are coming with more innovative and lucrative deals to have an edge over their competitors.

We are seeing new emerging trends and innovations that help the coworking industry hold on to its USP of being unconventional. This sector is undergoing transformation even as it grows and expands into Tier 2 citiesand it will be particularly interesting to see what other innovations does it unearth while dealing with the challenges that come up.