Nobody can question the growth and popularity of coworking spaces in Mumbai. It was only 3-4 years ago that there were only a handful of ‘business centers’ in Mumbai (yes, they weren’t called coworking spaces back then) and in the last couple of years the number has grown from just a handful to well over one hundred different coworking spaces in Mumbai, Thane & Navi Mumbai! Mind you, this is over one hundred coworking space companies where some have several to over five different coworking spaces in Mumbai’s metro area alone.
So this begs the question…. Why has there been this growth?
Growth of Startups
The growth of coworking spaces in Mumbai has been correlated with the growth in popularity of startups. The popularity of joining a startup & startup success that filled the newspaper over the last several years (much more in 2015 & 2016 than last year to be fair) has led to more and more Indians starting their own “startups.” And a coworking space is a great option for those looking to start their own business as most companies will start with one to three people and the growth of the business is unknown so having the flexibility of a coworking space is very important over that of the more traditional office space for rent that usually requires at least a one year lock-in period.
Ditching Coffee Shops
Before, if one wanted a workspace outside of one’s home to work in, most were left with coffee shops to work from (this would largely be solo freelancers). And although a solo freelancer would still have to pay for a coffee or two to keep the barista away, it was still a cost and frankly a very distracting environment that is more designed for conversations than for sitting down and getting work done. If one looks at the amount it costs to buy all this coffee on a daily basis and then the cost of a coworking space, the cost may not be that different. There are some coworking spaces in Mumbai for instants that are for around only 5,000 rupees per month! Needless to say, many have ditched coffee shops for coworking spaces.
This point may not sit that well with a number of coworking spaces, but there is an element of some people “starting a business” and the feeling of “having a job,” that show up to their respective coworking space daily to keep their parents off their back and to let their friends know they are working like everyone else when in-fact they are casually at best working on their business. It’s not fully these individuals faults that they can’t land a job, it’s becoming increasingly more and more difficult for young Indians to land a job in Mumbai. To be more specific about it, there are tens and tens of thousands of engineers in Mumbai that can’t find work in the field that they have studied all these years for, not to mention all the C & D students that also are looking for work. There is a pressure in this City (and all over the world to be fair) to have an office space in Mumbai to go too on a daily basis regardless of how ‘real’ that job and/or company is. And not being able to get a ‘job’ forces people to become freelancers and entrepreneurs – who know, maybe this is an excellent thing and will force far more innovation than if there were all those jobs out there as there were not too long ago.
Thanks to WeWork kicking things off, it’s now cool to work at a coworking space. Just remember that it wasn’t that long ago that these coworking spaces in Mumbai were actually called business centers (boring right). The coworking spaces now are much more vibrant in terms of interior design and much more ‘start-up like’ which only attracts a younger crowd. Not to mention, that if you have a company and need to recruit, it may be much easier if you are working from a coworking space rather than your own office, which likely won’t be as well designed and have the perks like a lounge, and pantry and outdoor space that a number of these coworking spaces provide. In short, it’s ‘cool’ to work in a coworking space.
When people are asked if they would rather work alone from home or work in an office space with colleagues, nearly all say they would prefer to work with others. It’s part of being a human being, we are social beings – there are no two ways about it. A big part of coworking space success is bringing people out of the coffee shops and out of their living rooms etc to come to a place where it’s encouraged to interact with the rest of the members. Sure, you can share ideas and make friends in a coworking space, but basically, it’s to not be working all alone. There are likely many other reasons why the popularity of coworking spaces in Mumbai and across the world for that matter has taken off. We would love to hear from you, why do you think coworking spaces have become so popular in such a relatively short period of time?