Boom in NCR’s shared office spaces

- August 16, 2023
| By : Mohd Shehwaaz Khan |

There has been a drastic increase in demand for co-working spaces in Delhi NCR since the pandemic, as the concept offers flexibility to scale up or down depending on the market conditions

<strong>COST EFFECTIVE:</strong> Shared office space offers reserved seats to freelancers and corporates for the payment of a low rent

Three young men are exchanging business ideas. Another two are relaxing in the nap room. A woman is doing squats in the fitness studio. The walls are plastered with inspirational quotations from business leaders like Jack Ma, Tim Cook and Bob Iger. This is Stirring Minds, a co-working space located at Asaf Ali Road next to the Delhi Stock Exchange. 

“There were hardly any players back in 2013. I was doing a tech services business back then and I was constantly interacting with the startups in the Silicon Valley and there I noticed the concept of co-working for the first time,” says Pranav Bhatia, founder, Stirring Minds. 

“There were business centres here in India but they didn’t cater to the startups at that point of time. When we started the co-working space, we had put out the concept in different groups on social media like Facebook in Delhi. Back then when anyone would search for a co-working space in Delhi, we were the first result in Google. We have helped many international companies set up in India including Acquia.” 

A co-working space is an arrangement wherein workers for different companies/individual entities share an office space. Commonly used infrastructures include equipment, utilities, receptionist and custodial services. Surabhi Dewra, founder, CareerGuide, is a member of Stirring Minds. 

She explains, “We all were forced to work from home during the pandemic. However, once things started getting back to normalcy, my task was to get a co-working space. The interesting thing about a co-working space is that it requires less formalities in the sense that the process of meeting with the landlords, giving deposit, lease period and an agreement are done away with. Moreover, little things such as housekeeping, maintenance of machinery and other stuff is all shared by the co-working space owners.” 

WORKING TOGETHER: People from different backgrounds, companies and industries work together in a co-working space

Over the last 10 years, Stirring Minds has helped hundreds of startups and other medium and independent working professionals. 

“We have around 15-20 medium scale companies using our co-working space physically. Over 1,200 people are also using the space virtually,” informs Bhatia. 

By using the co-working space virtually, he means that people use the co-working space address as their registered office address. And most of them don’t come to work physically. This is precisely for the GST registration, company incorporation, MCA records etc. A lot of people who don’t have office in Delhi and need to show an office in Delhi on their website simply use their mailbox services where Stirring Minds receive their couriers. Those clients visit the space occasionally to collect their couriers. 

Feasible for mid-size companies  

Speaking on the rising demand for co-working spaces in Delhi NCR, Aditya Verma who is the founder of The Office Pass, a co-working facility in Gurgaon, says, “During the pandemic, offices were shut for almost eight to nine months. When things returned on track, many employees weren’t ready to join due to rumours about the pandemic. Many were laid off. However, the companies were forced to pay the rent for infrastructure to the landlord. Now, the companies wanted more flexibility over the conventional lease system. They didn’t want to pay for the services. “Co-working space offers the flexibility to scale up or down, which isn’t possible otherwise. For example, today a mid-size company has 200 employees and tomorrow the company will have just 20 employees depending on market fluctuations or anything. In such a scenario, why would the company pay hefty price for the space to the landlord. That’s exactly why so many companies migrated to co-working spaces post pandemic. Today, if a company’s team size is 10, it would pay for those 10 only and tomorrow if the size expands to 1000, the company would pay for those 1000.” 

The Office Pass has two plans — one is called the fixed seat plan and the other is flexi seat plan. 

In a fixed seat arrangement, a seat is reserved for a person irrespective of whether he comes to the office or not. However, in a flexi rest plan, a seat can be rented for 3, 5, 10, 15 days in a month depending on requirements. 

The co-working company has the option to sell the seat to someone else on those days when you do not come to the office. The fixed plans are priced between 10,000/- to 12,000/- per seat per month. The flexi seat plans are 15-20% lower than fixed seat plans. The Office Pass is located at Unitech Cyber Park (UCP), which is close to Huda Metro Station. 

Verma, 51, observes that freelancing community faces loneliness. 

Freelancing community 

He says, “Freelancers have different work but they choose a co-working space not just to utilise the services but also to build a bond with people around. For example, if an insurance agent is working day in, day out, then he would obviously yearn for companionship which is absent in individual work. In office, you have your colleagues with whom you chill out and relax in between work. I have closely looked at the freelancing community that chooses The Office Pass to create companionship.” 

Hybrid working culture and freelancing has become the new norm for people. According to a report, there has been an upsurge in new freelancers in India. The percentage has increased by about 46% in the past two years. In addition, many workers are being laid off across the country in different companies. Whatever the reason is, people are looking for growth at an individual level. Working independently allows people to break away from the conventional work atmosphere. 

Rahul, founder of Spaced Out, a co-working space situated in Shahpur Jat opines, “Work from home culture isn’t appreciated by all the working folks. We missed going to the office as our brain was conditioned to that kind of a working model.

“So, after the pandemic we received a lot of queries from small scale companies who had to shut down their own offices due to debts but they wanted to work and rebuild,” he said.

“We are located at the heart of south Delhi and Shahpur Jat has emerged as a hub for entrepreneurs. While startup culture is still prevalent in India and young minds are always brewing new ideas, I have noticed that independent workers and especially, fashion industry has grown very big and versatile,” he said.

“Shahpur Jat is home to several fashion stores and every now and then there are young fashion designers coming in to seek opportunities. A co-working space is a blessing in disguise for such people,” he further added. 

Sruchi Datta is a content writer working for a firm based in Mumbai. She didn’t relocate to the city but feels the loneliness that comes with working independently. 

She says, “I have never been at home as I always loved going out and meeting people. While working from home is a choice for independent workers like me, we don’t necessarily want to be isolated. I often feel that while I am working like any other employee in a firm but only remotely, I don’t socialise much. This deprives me of the kinship in the office premises. Scrolling through the social media and looking at the funny reels freshly made out of office made me upset.” 

“One day while sitting at Social Offline, Hauz Khas, I saw a bunch of entrepreneurs discussing a project and totally absorbed in it. In the meantime, the waiter brought their food to the table. This actually intrigued me. Upon enquiring about the reserved space, I came to know that Social Offline doubles up as a co-working space. Soon after I joined as a co-worker with Social Offline. It was simple process of a few clicks on the website filling basic details,” she added. 

Social Offline is a space that blends the best of the office and the café. Overlooking the Hauz Khas Lake and the fort, Social Offline is a collaborative workspace, a hub for artists and innovators. 

FUN OPTIONS: Co-working spaces also offer cafeteria and games facilities for people to unwind and relax

The membership is Rs 5,000 per month, for which you get a dedicated space from Monday through Friday 9am-6pm, highspeed internet, and the full luxuries of being in a café/bar. The entire amount is redeemable on food and drinks when you’re at work. Membership to the workspace gets you access to all the branches of Social Offline across the country. 

Sruchi has been working from Social Offline for a year now and she has made many friends over the café-cum-co-working space. Over the past couple of years, co-working spaces have become the go-to option for hundreds of startups and freelancers.