What do you do if you’re self-employed or a freelancer who just can’t sit at home to work, maybe because of the multiple distractions or lack of adequate resources such as a stable internet or don’t prefer isolation?
The same applies to a startup that has around 3-4 members, and would require many at times to set up a meeting with a client or avail a conference room and most importantly is low on capital?
How many times can you go to a coffee shop or a park to work? Remember I’m not mentioning libraries because hmmmmmmm lets not forget we’re talking about Pakistan?
The most common answer nowadays is coworking spaces!
This has been the case pre-covid and with most people being laid off from their jobs and now venturing into new business horizons due to the current pandemic that continues to disrupt lifestyle while carving the concept of the new normal.
In its simple definition as also found in Harvard Business Review:
Coworking movement aspires to, include community, collaboration, learning, and sustainability.
Wikipedia calls it:
“Coworking is an arrangement in which workers of different companies share an office space, allowing cost savings and convenience through the use of common infrastructures, such as equipment, utilities, and receptionist and custodial services, and in some cases refreshments and parcel acceptance services.”
Pakistan and Coworking Spaces or Setups: A bandwagon trend or a comfortable reality?
Pakistan too has seen a clear rise in the demand for coworking spaces despite the deficit in supply. With the rise of the emerging startup ecosystem, freelance community and new enterprises joining in the trend, it’s no secret that the majority of these freelancers and startups don’t have ample amount of capital or resources to set up an independent office for themselves
Did you know the value of real estate in Karachi rose from 50% to 100% as reported by Geo News.
Coworking spaces welcome a learning conducive environment and exemplify aesthetically pleasing setups where one just wishes to sit in peace and work or just simply read or do anything productive.
With their perfectly utilized small spaces and spectacular design, most of them have managed to design spaces that bring out the most utility in terms of space and thus profit for them.
Spaces in coworking spaces are rented out and I don’t mean just a desk space, we’re talking about conference rooms, meeting halls, cafes, outdoor areas etc.
However, despite all these optimistic claims a lot of people view these spaces as not good for productivity and just simple places to hang out and socialize.
But that’s just one of the many benefits of these coworking spaces especially for startup founders who would want to connect with new and like-minded people which may serve as a good business decision from a strategic lens.
Imagine a place where you can find freelancers, SME owners, startup founders all under a single roof. I mean just the presence of such enthusiastic, passionate and contagious energy can set the feeling of a professional working environment where making money and helping each other out goes hand in hand.
This brings us to:
Benefits of Coworking Spaces? A place to mingle or collaborate?
I mean the heading lays out the question plain and simple.
Either it can be a place just to mingle and socialize or actually serve as a productive and collaborative space where passionate individuals eventually build or grow a small enterprise/venture into the next big thing (as they call it).
Well let’s find out:
An Aesthetically Pleasing Professional Setup
An appealing design is never a bad idea whether it’s for a restaurant or a coworking space. Believe it or not, minor changes that bring out the aesthetics of a workplace can lead to enhanced productivity.
By simple I mean the decor, the physical space layout. Lightning can benefit and facilitate a diverse group of professionals in a cohesive environment.
Modern coworking spaces have also made room for open-air benching – meaning there is no assigned seating, just mere a table and chair waiting to be occupied by the next pair of buttocks that resets itself there.
Apart from people who would require desktop setups in this day of age where the majority of professionals only require a laptop, or a smartphone, and a few files or documents, there’s very little use for a full-sized desk or an office space.
The beauty lies in the big windows or open spaces that attract natural light in the day or dazzling lights and neon signs during the evenings, colourful and comfortable bean bags, bright coloured wing chairs etc.
Everything Is In The House If Not On The House
You heard it right! One of the many benefits of coworking spaces is that they are fully equipped with almost anything you may need in a professional setup,
To begin with a steady WiFi!! Ahhhh what most would do to get a stable internet connection, probably kill. Be it remote work for freelancers or making exhaustive proposals for startups founders, a solid internet is mandatory for all.
Moving onto specially designed collaborative spaces like Conference rooms, board rooms or meeting halls. I mean a desk space just isn’t enough, professionals need a separate space in case they have an in-person client meeting or need a space for internal workers to brainstorm ideas.
And most of all a Cafe or a kitchen space, what do you even call working professionals who can work without a cup of coffee or tea. Food stations that provide food or snacks, or a nice coffee, just make work more fun.
Some coworking spaces also extend the support of their internal staffers out of which the most important are IT support staff, and rarely finance consultants.
Connect & Collaborate In Coworking Spaces
Indeed one of the most remarkable traits of a coworking space.
One can feel lonely or drained out of ideas running a one-man show and like the popular narrative “a human being is a social animal”, we need people around who we can connect with and collaborate with.
The feeling of being part of a community can offer huge benefits such as casually bouncing off new ideas with people of diverse skill sets and like-minded individuals alike, making these places a space of support as well.
People with different backgrounds bring a diversity of experience to the table that can help an aspiring professional or founder to grow.
Diversity in these spaces exist but within the commonality.
Let’s take an example of a startup founder who may need a social media team but can’t afford to hire one, well within the same roof, he/she can find a team of creative freelancers to help with social marketing efforts and the same can be applied to different domain areas such as finance person or a tax expert to help you file your annual taxes.
Affordability of Coworking Spaces: Money is What Money Does
Ahhhh probably one of the most important unique selling propositions: the affordability factor.
Affording a desk space at a coworking space can be quite budget-friendly that lets you enjoy other amenities you would find in a regular office e.g. high-speed Wi-Fi, Kitchen station, meeting rooms etc.
Instead of paying rent, electricity, phone and other bills, salaries to maintain a quality space – a coworking space exempts you from all this financial and human resource hassle that too at half the price.
Top 5 Coworking Spaces in Pakistan
Now that you’ve gotten the gist of why coworking spaces would be most suitable to your needs if you’re a freelancer or a budding startup founder, let’s examine some of the modern workspaces that strive for collaborative culture.
A little bias never killed anybody – and with that said Colabs in my opinion is just a beautiful example of all the points made above.
Offering small spaces for small teams on flexible monthly plans as well as private offices for big teams.
Founded and created by the two brothers Omar Shah and Ali Shah, Colabs is a perfect example of a spacious coworking space that has been artistically designed to create a space that welcomes a collaborative culture.
It hosts separate spaces for meetings, events, conferences, workshops and networking sessions, a rooftop garden and a terrace among many things.
Well equipped with lockers spaces, Multipurpose Studio, and a Lounging area making this the ideal stop for a freelancer or everything you would require in a coworking space to fulfil your needs.
Currently, Colabs hosts more than 100 companies out of which 60% are tech startups.
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Daftarkhwan is another example of beautifully designed workspaces that offer huge benefits for entrepreneurs and other professionals
Just as their slogan claims: reinventing the way you work since 2016, this agile workplace provides affordable workstations for small to large teams as well as have been at the centre of community building through their initiatives such as Daftarkhwan VC Exchange that connects startups and pitch to multiple leading investors through one on one investment meetings.
Like many coworking spaces, Daftarkhwan also provides its coworkers with a great range of facilities including Hi-speed WiFi, Meeting & Conference Rooms, Lockers & Storage as well as printing, scanning and photocopying services.
Although Plan9 is largely known to be an incubator for tech startups it’s not known by many that it also entails a state-of-the-art working space for freelancers.
The Plan9 was launched in 2012 and has made a name to become a go-to place for all tech enthusiasts.
As Pakistan has been previously ranked in the top five most active countries on Freelancer and oDesk, Plan9 – an initiative taken by the Punjab Government to provide affordable workspaces for them every quarter.
Located on the 5th Floor, inside Arfa Software Technology Park, Lahore, the space also offers collaboration and networking opportunities for freelancers and aspiring founders.
The space has the capacity of 144 spots available for freelancers as well as have access to all amenities including availing the services of an in-house business development consultant.
Bringing to you now the only dedicated incubator and Co-Working space for women professionals and entrepreneurs, WeCreate is a specially designed space for women where it helps build women-backed enterprises as well as help grow existing ones.
WeCreate Center is a result of a public-private partnership between the U.S. Department of State Bureau of Economic and Business Affairs (EB) and TiE Islamabad in an effort to provide a safe and centralized location for female professionals and entrepreneurs to gain access to vital economical empowering resources.
An ideal setting for women that provides workspaces, meeting halls, a prayer area, a day-care facility for working moms as well as storage and a self-help kitchen space.
WeCreate Center also hosts multiple programs like the StartUp Academy. SheTalks to provide mentoring, networking, specialized training to help access markets and capital.
The uniquely designed space is located in F-11 Markaz, Islamabad and has a women-led staff to help females feel at home.
Though The Hive is one of the oldest and one of the most creatively designed spaces which include perfectly placed egg chairs or hanging chairs, it is slightly overpriced than all the other coworking spaces mentioned above.
The Hive offers fully serviced, scalable offices and coworking solutions for professionals, small teams and mature companies. With its presence in 3 cities i.e. Islamabad (Blue Area), Lahore (DHA) and Karachi (Clifton), it covers over 125,000 square feet in workspace facilities.
You can also rent event halls and meeting rooms that have the capacity to accommodate up to 30 – 40 people.
They also provide standard and custom-built offices for large teams offering serviced offices solutions for convenience, scalability and efficiency.
Coworking spaces definitely have a future in Pakistan. With rising rents, costs to infrastructure and even security issues; they can be the perfect alternatives for people to collect and collaborate.
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