Shared offices or co-working spaces are trending across the world. In India, too, entrepreneurs are drawn to the cost-saving benefits of a shared rather than private office. It also allows tremendous flexibility: work when you want, where you want, without any overheads and without the hassles of running an office.
And there’s a very attractive hidden benefit as well. Sharing an office with others has the potential of leading to valuable future business relations. The open environment is conducive to the ebb and flow of a wide and varied canvas of professionals during a working day. Start-ups, creative professionals, lawyers, web designers, digital marketing agencies, programmers and developers, small business owners and social media consultants land up there – it’s the perfect breeding ground for a networking culture that can be more rewarding than membership to a regular networking club.
Imagine the scenario. You get immersed in a vibrant working community which is a wonderful start for any business. There are no partitions. The ambience is friendly and informal. Sitting right next to you may be just the person you need to help in your area of business. If not, he or she may know someone who could help and the beauty of it is that in this environment it’s natural to share contacts. E-mail ids and mobile numbers, not so easily obtained in other circumstances, are shared. People may go a step further and personally put you in touch with someone they know who may be the answer to your problems.
An open environment makes people open to change. It just happens. You find people shedding pre-conceived ideas and listening to suggestions to which they might have had a closed mind earlier. “Why not give it a shot?” they think. And it usually works. Ideas and initiatives suggested on a one-on-one basis tend to get accepted more easily. Productivity is known to improve in this kind of environment.
You learn a lot through casual conversation about business trends in general and also about your particular area of business. No corporate secrets are given out, of course. But it’s surprising how much one can discover about a company’s work culture and business philosophy through a chat over a cup of coffee. All this is grist for the mill for an entrepreneur taking his or her first steps in business.
In an open environment, hierarchical lines tend to blur. The person sitting next to you may well be a senior executive who can give you advice and suggestions based on his or her wide experience. Your chances of meeting such a person in a regular office are remote. And they would most probably not be so open and approachable in a conventional business setting.
The exciting thing about these hidden benefits is that they are yours for the taking. The mere fact that you set your laptop down at a table shared by other people opens up possibilities. You don’t have to wait for an introduction. In a few minutes you are sharing problems and concerns and helping each other.
And to think that all this is good for the bottom-line. You have access to amenities such as 24×7 wifi, copiers and printers. You can retain an independent work-style, be with like-minded people who are probably embarking on the same journey. Shared offices and co-working spaces are definitely an idea whose time has come.