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Old 29th April 2012, 15:39   #1
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Default Co-working - Another alternative to office

I read this nice article on The Economist few months ago, and wanted to share with all of you:

The rise of co-working: Setting the desk jockeys free | The Economist

Here is brief introductory quote from TE:
Quote:
NINE hours of isolation or 30 minutes trapped by the office bore? The attentions of the boss or the distractions of daytime TV? The choice between slogging to the office and working from home can be pretty unappealing. For increasing numbers of people, the answer is “co-working”.

The concept of co-working is elastic but at its broadest means working alongside, and often collaborating with, people you wouldn’t normally. Users book a space in a co-working office, plonk themselves down where they can and start beavering away. (Opening the laptop in a Starbucks is not quite the same thing: enough stick-in-the-muds go to coffee shops to drink coffee that it is not a proper working environment.)
The rise of at least two following technologies in last few years has made remote working ever more possible than before:
  • Video conferencing - The rise and adaptation of cheaper video conferencing software like Skype, Google video chat, Facetime, and online meeting providers like WebEx, GotoMeeting etc.
  • Cloud - which provides flexibility in terms workstation and data access from almost anywhere.
Of course this will be suitable more to professions where daily physical presence at office location is not required e.g. IT, Back office, Financial services, Consulting etc. If you work in areas such as manufacturing, retail, travel, health care, education, law etc. then this is not for you.

Also even if this might work for some industries, it will not completely replace the regular office, and depending on work you might need to go to office once or twice a week.

I see lots of advantages of this:
  • Savings in commuting time
  • Fuel cost savings
  • Reduced stress
  • Better work like balance
  • Overall more productivity due to above factors
  • Reduced pollution, better for environment
  • Reduced traffic on roads, local buses / trains
  • Reduced stress on roads, public transport infrastructure means that local authorities can possibly save some money.
  • Possibly more women in workforce
  • Possibly fewer accidents / deaths on city roads
  • Cost savings for companies, because investment for big offices, prime real estate not required.
I hope and really wish that co-working becomes a common phenomenon in near term, particularly in India.

What are your thoughts on this? How would you feel about going to a nearer co-working location than a regular office away from your home?

Last edited by MandarMax : 29th April 2012 at 15:49.
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Old 30th April 2012, 14:33   #2
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Default Re: Co-working - Another alternative to office

I've heard about this concept a lot but don't quite understand how this is better than working from home?
For people in consulting and marketing there is the advantage of meeting new people and getting leads but for the regular Software engineer or Financial analyst, I don't see any benefit.
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Old 30th April 2012, 14:58   #3
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Default Re: Co-working - Another alternative to office

Concept seems to be promoted more by the space management companies renting out locations/cubicles/spaces to different firms. Then they are trying to promote 'some' of the benefits, so that HR can start thinking for this 'out of the box' kind of solution.

If office locations are fixed (as in present scenario), that itself will offer benefits due to optimisation. But changing locations will not mean it will offer ALL benefits cited in bold below -

Quote:
Originally Posted by MandarMax View Post

I see lots of advantages of this:
  • Savings in commuting time
  • Fuel cost savings
  • Reduced stress
  • Better work like balance
  • Overall more productivity due to above factors
  • Reduced pollution, better for environment
  • Reduced traffic on roads, local buses / trains
  • Reduced stress on roads, public transport infrastructure means that local authorities can possibly save some money.
  • Possibly more women in workforce
  • Possibly fewer accidents / deaths on city roads
  • Cost savings for companies, because investment for big offices, prime real estate not required.
How would you feel about going to a nearer co-working location than a regular office away from your home?
As I understand co-working does'nt mean employee will be sitting at home. He has to go to one of the "offices", where he can meet different set of people; who in turn belong to different firm. Benefit will really come in when they are from complimenting fields of work.
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Old 1st May 2012, 10:31   #4
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Default Re: Co-working - Another alternative to office

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jaguar View Post
I've heard about this concept a lot but don't quite understand how this is better than working from home?
For people in consulting and marketing there is the advantage of meeting new people and getting leads but for the regular Software engineer or Financial analyst, I don't see any benefit.
I am not sure if you completely read the article. The concept is that when working from home, you might not be as productive because of distractions at home - TV, Kids, Spouse, Pets etc. Also home environment is more relaxing than office, so you might not be able to avoid the urge for a siesta after a nice meal. Secondly you might not have the same infrastructure at home e.g. power backup, redundant internet connections etc. So if there is net outage then that can be an issue. Also in my opinion very few people are able to 'lock' themselves up at home and concentrate on work, and for those who can, there might not be any real benefits. I am not saying there are no distractions at work, but working from home is still different for the reasons mentioned above. Secondly, many people like to work in office atmosphere, people who like to socialize, gossip, make new friends, party (after office hrs) etc. So the co-working option might provide a good balance between working from home and commuting to far away office. Hope this also sort of addresses your comment about 'no benefits' for software engineers.

Quote:
Originally Posted by anoopap View Post
Concept seems to be promoted more by the space management companies renting out locations/cubicles/spaces to different firms. Then they are trying to promote 'some' of the benefits, so that HR can start thinking for this 'out of the box' kind of solution.

If office locations are fixed (as in present scenario), that itself will offer benefits due to optimisation. But changing locations will not mean it will offer ALL benefits cited in bold below -

As I understand co-working does'nt mean employee will be sitting at home. He has to go to one of the "offices", where he can meet different set of people; who in turn belong to different firm. Benefit will really come in when they are from complimenting fields of work.
I don't understand why you think it is promoted by real estate companies. With that logic your argument sounds more promoted by car or petrol companies who might lose revenue if people don't travel as much. . There is no logic in that argument because these things are governed by demand and supply. E.g. If a company having 100 employees decides to go for co-working option, they will not hold up to the same office space for 100 people, they will bring it down to say 20-25 people who would be working from the main location. The other employees will work from different locations around the city. The freed up capacity of 75 people can be used by another company / companies who need a co-working location in that area. This will also explain the benefits that I had mentioned in my original post. e.g. if 100 employees travel 20 kms roundtrip to a central office then that is 2000kms all put together a day! assuming they all use a separate car. Whereas if all employees work from different co-working locations that are average 5kms away (10 kms roundtrip) then the fuel as well as time savings would be 50%. That's huge in my opinion. Regarding points related to stress etc. you will understand if you are used to a long tedious commute every day.

I have not personally tried this but in theory it should work. It is already being used and becoming popular in the US (according to the article), people are seeing benefits, so I think it should work here as well.

Last edited by MandarMax : 1st May 2012 at 10:34.
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Old 1st May 2012, 10:58   #5
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Default Re: Co-working - Another alternative to office

WFH is quite old now.
My previous company had it for quite a few people.
Only thing was, there had to be extenuating circumstances, as well as profile match to be away from office.
Typically individual SMEs with focussed knowledge whose input was required on specific points in a project, Women who found the commute too much, or wanted to leave due to children/marriage.

I do remember that that the conveyance component from the salary went to 0( a sizable loss), but the company picked the tab for internet and phone(justifiable).
They did have to log in and out at proper hours, and be available on the intranet messenger in that duration.

There was also the option for us guys to not want to go to office, and call in and let our boss know we were working from home.

DIfference was, when these guys worked from home, they received work, and they finished it.
When I worked from home, I didnt .....
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Old 1st May 2012, 20:23   #6
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Default Re: Co-working - Another alternative to office

Quote:
Originally Posted by MandarMax View Post
I am not sure if you completely read the article. The concept is that when working from home, you might not be as productive because of distractions at home - TV, Kids, Spouse, Pets etc.

E.g. If a company having 100 employees decides to go for co-working option, they will not hold up to the same office space for 100 people, they will bring it down to say 20-25 people who would be working from the main location. The other employees will work from different locations around the city. The freed up capacity of 75 people can be used by another company / companies who need a co-working location in that area. .

I have not personally tried this but in theory it should work. It is already being used and becoming popular in the US (according to the article), people are seeing benefits, so I think it should work here as well.
I didn't go through this article fully but I know about this concept from long before. Distractions are there at home and office; believe me you, the entire floor of my previous company will vouch for this . Depending on colleagues (and strangers in case of co-workers) distractions cannot be predicted.

Coming to your example, the company will have one smaller centralized office and will rent multiple co-working centers across town right? Running cost of multiple centers will definitely work out to be much more than a single office. I am talking from experience here. My company works out of a ready-to-use office space and the rate they charge is ridiculous to say the least. For eg. each internet port costs Rs. 6k per month.

What works in US will not always work here. The co-working culture in US is fueled by the high number of start-ups and self-employed (like bloggers, SEO/SEM consultants etc). I suppose the number of such work force is much less here in India. So we have a long way to go.
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Old 1st May 2012, 20:25   #7
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Default Re: Co-working - Another alternative to office

Quote:
Originally Posted by mayankk View Post
WFH is quite old now.
My previous company had it for quite a few people.
If you read my post and the article carefully, you will realize that co-working is NOT the same as WFH. It is an alternative to working from home and working from your regular office. WFH is common in US, Europe etc. but not so much in India, in fact very few companies have friendly policies that allow this. Co-working seems to be a much more practical approach to me.

Quote:
Originally Posted by mayankk View Post
When I worked from home, I didnt .....
That's precisely why co-working is a good idea
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Old 1st May 2012, 20:32   #8
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Default Re: Co-working - Another alternative to office

The most important factor is security and confidentiality. Most companies have very strict contracts with their clients and maintain very secure network and physical access.

Directly working as an employee may be less strict, but still various regulations require a certain amount of security compliance, very difficult to achieve in a shared office.
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Old 1st May 2012, 21:02   #9
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Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by MandarMax

If you read my post and the article carefully, you will realize that co-working is NOT the same as WFH. It is an alternative to working from home and working from your regular office. WFH is common in US, Europe etc. but not so much in India, in fact very few companies have friendly policies that allow this. Co-working seems to be a much more practical approach to me.

That's precisely why co-working is a good idea
That's what I said.
People like me who had some issues coming in one day would call in for wfh, which basically meant -for people like me who had not taken up wfh- co working .

Maybe for full wfh people it was productive, but I got 0 work done on such days.

(Possible that I may be missing the concept entirely. If so, please ignore. I am typing this on my device at home )
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