Shared office spaces – A networking haven

Gone are the days of the traditional workspaces. The recent surge in the number of coworking spaces/business centers is a testament to this new phenomenon of sharing your workspace with others. The last few years have seen more and more freelancers, entrepreneurs, start-ups, SMEs and even multinationals embracing this new concept. So why is this concept gaining popularity? Primarily because it is a cost-effective and hassle free proposition for many companies and individuals. It saves them the time, effort and money involved in finding and setting up traditional office spaces. But another less obvious reason why many choose to co-work is the benefits derived from networking.

Sharing office space with others gives you the opportunity to interact with likeminded as well as non-likeminded (which is sometimes even more beneficial) people. It is an opportunity to share ideas and thoughts with people from varying professional backgrounds. For freelancers, start-ups and smaller teams, shared office spaces offer them the advantage of working in a professional setting, saving them from working from their homes or cafes, which can often be a lonely and monotonous experience. Cafes and common areas in shared offices, often become networking havens where members congregate, to not only get a break from work, but also to meet their coworkers with whom they share information and knowledge. This in turn can convert to generating leads and partnership opportunities. In our own shared office space in Mumbai, we have already seen this happen numerous times. Not only have we witnessed members sharing leads and referrals, but we have also had members investing in each other’s ventures and utilizing each other’s skills and technical knowhow. Many shared office spaces, like ourselves, also organize high teas, lunches and other events at the centers, which provides additional opportunities to network and know the people you are sharing your office space with. For those who truly want to reap all the benefits of coworking, attending these communal events is very necessary.

Multinationals too benefit from the networking opportunities that shared offices provides. Last year, we were approached by a leading Indian technology company wishing to take 40 seats with us, despite having a huge office set-up in the very same city. An internal study at their end had concluded that working in a shared office environment would lead to a potential increase in productivity and creativity. This exposed us to a new train of thought and the changing perceptions of multinationals towards shared office spaces. With more and more talented individuals, especially those in the tech field choosing to be freelancers, multinationals are realizing the benefits of working in shared offices where they are surrounded by this talent pool. By setting up some of their specialized teams in shared office spaces, multinationals are creating opportunities where they can accommodate and harness the talent of external freelancers. We have instances where multinationals are willing to bare the cost of the shared office space seats for freelancers even if these freelancers are not on the exclusive payroll of these multinationals. Thereby dispelling the myth that coworking is only beneficial for start-ups and small teams.

To conclude, as an operator of shared office spaces, here a few tips for those wishing to maximize their networking experience at a shared office space:

  1. Don’t eat lunch alone at your desk/cabin, make an effort to go to the pantry and break out areas of your centre during lunch/ tea time
  2. Don’t be shy to introduce your self to your fellow coworkers
  3. If you are shy, get your community manager to facilitate introductions
  4. Attend events, luncheons and other activities organized in your centre
  5. Keep abreast on all the latest happening and new members of your tenants by interacting often with your community manager
  6. And lastly, be as open to sharing information and knowledge as receiving it.