Youth catching up with ‘co-working’ culture in India

Youth catching up with ‘co-working’ culture

If you happen to be a coffee-shop frequenter, you might well be used to finding people sitting alone on tables; either immersed in their notes or hooked to their laptops. In general, these individuals are freelancers, work-at-home professionals or people whose work schedules require them to travel often, resulting in relative isolation. However, there has been a sharp decline in the number of such solo-occupancies at tables in eateries over the recent past; a development which can largely be attributed to the rapidly budding phenomenon of co-working spaces. After being a success in several major cities across the country, the idea has now found its way into Nagpur too. We take a look at how the city reacts to this new working concept.

coworking-people

City getting accustomed
In layman terms, this is a style of functioning that involves a shared working environment, often an office, and independent activity. Unlike in a typical office atmosphere, those who are co-working are usually not employed by the same organization. "Co-working spaces are essentially flexible working areas. They help start-ups, entrepreneurs, freelancers and remote workers access all workspace amenities without having to incur fixed costs," further simplified Shailesh Deshpande, the owner of the first such facility in the Second Capital. Within the first few weeks since its inception, the office has attracted around half-a-dozen young professionals from different backgrounds, indicating the city's quickly growing acclimatisation of this new working culture.

Building a community
As more young professionals are tending to set up their own start-ups, the initial days are rather spent in solitude. But co-working is not only helping them deal with this isolation but also making them feel a part of a community with its own culture. "Being a solo-founder, I hardly had any human interaction earlier apart from the handful of interns who I used to meet twice or thrice a week. So co-working helps deal with the resulting detraction along with which, you also feel a part of a working culture without being in a proper office," said Abhijeet Khandagale, who operates his IT start-up from the co-working space. Adding to this, Jayesh Bagde, who owns a Nagpur-based e-commerce website, said, "Despite early days into this working style, we try to catch up with our co-workers for knowledge-sharing and exchanging ideas. Feeling comfortable in one another's presence makes it easier."

Gateway to easy networking
Working with individuals from diverse spheres of life in the same space has been another attraction for young professionals. Anup Wadodkar, who uses the space to work as a freelance content writer, supported, "Belonging from the industry that I do, networking and meeting new people is an important aspect of my work. So instead of working alone from home or coffee-shops, why not be a part of a co-working space that offers you the chance to come across interesting professionals under one roof and build relevant contacts." To this, Shailesh added, "Say, if you have an IT start-up in a co-working space and a person running a digital marketing firm works in the same space, you can seek mutual benefit without any trouble."

Co-working trivia*
– Concept originated in USA
– Over 2,00,000 users worldwide
– Majority of people in 20s or 30s
– Over one-third are women
– CWSs doubling every year since
2006 *stats from a survey

MIHAN been there
Although the city has recently been introduced to the concept of co-working spaces, the Multi- Modal International Hub Airport at Nagpur (MIHAN) has been providing such a facility since 2010, but only exclusively. "We have a central facility building which can accommodate upto 1,50,000 people. However, its usage is restricted to just the export companies within our project, who don't have a proper office but want to start operations immediately," said Atul Thakare, MIHAN's marketing manager.

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