Finding Coworking Spaces During the Time of Pandemic and Social Distancing
Run Rabbit Run. Remember the time when Monday morning blues were the worst part of the week? The humdrum of a 9 to 5 work routine was the cliched symbol of life not being lived to the fullest, a life lacking adventure and passion. Traffic, Work, Traffic, and repeat was the nightmare that a number of us were living in and whining about daily.
And not that we were completely wrong about it. Long hours of commute and work did squeeze the life out of us and affected both our physical and mental health. It was a lifestyle that was crying for change, a better alternative.
Fast forward to life in the middle of COVID-19 pandemic, at least twice a day we wish for the old life to come back. We miss the commute, the social interaction, the fixed work hours, we miss the routine that erstwhile made us miserable. What we called life has come to a halt and one of the most impacted spheres is our work lives. We miss the office days when getting up in the morning and dressing up to go outside, going to work was a daily ritual that we were committed to, despite its trials and tribulations.
In three words I can sum up everything I’ve learned about life:
“It goes on.”Robert Frost
Life in this pandemic has also found its way around and we are everyday finding new ways to cope with this new normal. While it is difficult to say if we will be able to go back to the typical 9 to 5 routine, an alternative, that comes with its own set of advantages, has gained popularity in the current scenario – remote working.
The concept of remote working
The concept of remote working is not new at all. However, earlier it was more of a luxury or convenience than a necessity. The entire world has moved indoors and people carry out their daily activities from there only. Companies were forced to embrace remote working for their employees, and even though they were hesitant in the beginning, the benefits of remote working are not lost upon them. Many big corporations, Twitter, Facebook, Infosys, Wipro, and many more, have decided to adopt the ‘remote-first’ model of working even after the pandemic is over.
As a bridge between the traditional office set up and the boundaryless remote working model, coworking spaces are trending as the new way of working that the combines best of both worlds. They overcome the shortcomings of working remotely (loneliness, overworking, distractions at home) and help businesses cut off on expenses incurred towards gaining and maintaining real estate and physical assets.
Remote working and Coworking are the new concepts that have entered the mainstream, public domain. Let us understand better what is meant by these terms.
Remote Working is working outside the traditional office space. One works alongside buying groceries, washing clothes, and doing the dishes while you request your family members to reduce the TV volume. In other words, it means working from home or in a remote location away from home. Sometimes even on the road, away from your annoying (but cute) niece troubling you to play with her.
Remote working offers
- The flexibility of time and schedule
- Cost-saving with telecommuting
- Better work-life balance
- Option to work for companies from across the world
- Increased productivity
Companies have access to a larger pool of talent from across the world and they can cut costs on acquiring and maintaining office spaces and equipment. Remote working also helps them retain employees for a longer period of time.
Coworking is a business model that provides people with shared workspaces that can be rented for a short-term, long term, and even on an hourly basis. Employees from different organizations work under the same roof and can interact with each other, share ideas, and network. These coworking spaces are packed with amenities and facilities that are needed for smooth work experience. Some of them are high-speed Wi-Fi, stationery, food and beverages, meeting/conference halls, restroom facilities, printers, scanners etc.
The coworking industry witnessed a massive growth curve from 2006 onwards, and it continues to grow. As the industry recovers from the impact of Covid-19, it is expected to register even more success in the coming years. Global Coworking Growth Study 2021 projected that the number of coworking spaces worldwide will reach about 20,000 in 2021. Also, by 2024, about 5 million people will be working out of coworking spaces, which is an increase of 158% from 2021.
Seeing the growth and statistics, major real estate players are increasingly investing in coworking spaces. For instance, Anarock Property Consultant shifted its focus to renting office spaces and witnessed a significant profit of 190 crores rupees in 2019.
The pandemic has companies in a desperate situation where they are resorting to every cost-cutting measure that they can think of. In the current scenario, the real estate expenses are a burden. Thus, start-ups, small and medium businesses and even big corporations are rethinking these overhead costs and looking towards coworking spaces. The rise in the gig economy has made coworking spaces the ultimate solution for freelancers and solo workers. Many individuals are acting on their enterprising ideas and embarking on the way to become successful business owners.
The workforces today, be it enterprise or freelancers would not be able to continue working from home for a long time. They will settle for hybrid work models that lets them explore coworking spaces as well as work-from-home or go to their office sometimes. Professionals are looking out for spaces that are easy-on-pocket yet functional, office vibe setup. And so, the coworking spaces are back again.
Getting into a business independently, freelancing or setting up a start-up or remote working alone can be deep soul tiring searching process over a time. To break to monotony and the vicious cycle we may need to find suitable and flexible spaces to spend a few hours and be our productive best.
The future of coworking and health protocols
Before we see how coworking and health protocols will stand in the future – we need to understand how businesses are changing according to the scenario. This infographic by cocofax can sum up how a COVID-19 proof business is able to run after all.
The different remote workspaces like the coworking, shared offices and other flexible space are going to be the second home for remote work professionals. Keeping a space safe & clean environment is today’s necessity. And the coworking space owners are accentuating the importance of right environment and health protocols to be followed in their easy walk-in spaces.
The coworking spaces understand that the pandemic health protocols are going to be a part of our lives going forward. The spaces owners are making all efforts to overcome the uncertainties and any pandemic concern of their users. The operators are doubling their efforts on sanitation and hygiene. Many operators are gradually leaning towards minimalistic décor and interiors making the maintenance simpler. From keeping the check on every entry into the workspace, assessing their well-being to multiplying the cleanliness of high touch points like lifts, buttons, doorknobs, switches, desks, chairs etc. Efforts to regularize hand washing, sanitizers, face masks are being ensured to ascertain every individual inside the space are safe and healthy.
What are your options for flexible spaces?
The quarantined lifestyle has taught us the importance of a right & meaningful work environment. As we unlock the lockdown, people are looking to choose flexible workspaces around their safe neighborhood. Here are some of the coolest flexible workspace types that people prefer to choose from depending their tasks and requirement:
These are office spaces that are gaining popularity in the commercial office segment. These short-term office rental places where tenants are ready to share their excess seats, excess capacity. This concept helps the owners to monetize in addition to creating an amazing community culture in the workspace. For example, one office is shared by two different team, different companies. This helps teams during the time of recession by lowering their respective rentals and also maintaining all necessary health protocols.
Coworking spaces bring about dynamic office vibes and numerous facilities. They are most preferred for the amazing networking opportunities it leads to and also helps to break the loneliness tedium. But with current social norms, users prefer widespread, vibrant independent spots, cabins or workpods that lets them enjoy the space and right atmosphere combined with safe distances practices. Some of the workpods start as low as 150/- per person or even 200 hot desks. These often help in building daily dream offices for the teams.
Some cities also boast of amazing coworking cafes. These are best suited for solo workers and digital nomads, coworking cafes are available at extremely affordable rates that start as low as INR 250 per day. These spaces are quirky yet comfortable, fun yet conducive to work-mode, so you can get your job done efficiently. Working cafes offer 24×7 WiFi, a variety of beverages and snacks to satiate those hunger pangs in the middle of your work.
What to look for in a coworking space?
Choosing the right coworking place requires a thorough thought, for your place of work is crucial to your productivity and quality of your work. It is the place where you will have your best ideas, where you go to every day to solve problems and where you need to apply your best self to your work.
There are coworking spaces that offer a free one-day trial. You have the option to take it up and see if a place works for you and your business. But before you do that, here are some guiding factors that you need to consider before jumping in to explore the different choices available to you.
- Location: As discussed in the beginning of this article, hectic commuting can take a toll on your physical and mental health. If your workplace is too far from your house, it also takes a financial toll on you. So, look for spaces that are in proximity of your residence or your team members. To save on travel expenses, go for spaces that are commutable by public transport and easy to find. It would be ideal to choose a coworking space that is centrally located for you as well as your teammates.
- Amenities: Apart from a few basics like WiFi, tea/coffee provisions and restroom facilities, different kinds of work require different special services and equipment for daily operations. A business with frequent client meetings and presentations will require easy access to the conference room, projector and white screen. Some people may require scanners and copiers every other day. In case your work has any special requirement, make sure it is met by the coworking space you finalize on.
- Schedule: When you are fairly new to the business, it takes long nights burning midnight oil before you taste success. This requires you to have 24×7 hassle-free access to your workspace without the owner interrupting and telling you to go home at closing hours. Look for a workspace that is flexible on working hours and functional during your hours of working.
- Your team size: If you are a freelancer flying solo, you can fit into any type of workspace. It is just you and your laptop screen and, of course, your client as well on the other side demanding you to revise your work all over again. But as a start-up, you have a team, a company whose secrets rely on you. A private space is essential to safeguard your intellectual property and provide your team a closed space for passionate discussions on the important project. Check for the variety of spaces your co-working space provider offers you. As a team, you might need a private office or at least a meeting space.
- Save that money: At last the most crucial bit, the budget. Ensure the workspace you are choosing complies with your budget restriction. Keep in the mind the kind of work you do so you can save the unwanted rent money. If your work requires you to have only weekly meetings then renting on an hourly basis would suffice. It would be wiser to opt for remote working for the rest of the days and work in a hybrid work model that allows you both team interaction and cost savings.
Where to look for a coworking space?
Websites like GoFloaters, Sneed and Coworker help in finding co-working spaces in your neighborhood. These are great guides to find the coworking spaces around you and notify you with updates on any up and coming co-working spaces. Do check it out.
Every workspace is unique, we need to make our choice based on our requirements. We must weigh the pros and cons of flexibility, amenities, and affordability. Any time you feel a particular set up is not working for you, just take a step back, analyze the plethora of options and pick for the one that would suit your work and set your experience smooth and pleasant.