Just recently, I shifted my operations to the Gurgaon version of WeWork, the acclaimed global pioneer of shared workspaces. There are many full-fledged organisations, including well-known start-ups, that consider this to be home, attracted by a universal culture of lovable productivity. To thrive in dynamic business environments, customer-facing functions from every possible industry will find this arrangement most rewarding.
For many rooted to conventional mores, there will be certain conceptual sacrifices to be made. Mostly, the emotional gratification of having a permanent and unique office address, a crucial pillar of stable identity as per traditional wisdom. Perception of ownership as well, as the official visitor could earlier walk in to a dedicated reception, bearing the colours of the corporate brand. Which also fuels a comfort of confidentiality, unnecessary truthfully for most modern entities, where digital protection has overtaken manual filing. Some may find the diversity disconcerting, especially when the deviation from familiar culture is rather stark, also the freedom in the air may become a theoretical source of annoyance. Having dealt with every kind of corporate culture during my days in advertising, there is sufficient conviction that fears of this nature are deeply unfounded, scale and integration the only genuine drivers for insisting on a dedicated and autonomous office setup.
Every customer-facing industry faces the challenge of satisfying the fickle customer, textbook definitions of loyalty having long evaporated. The Co-Working experience physically liberates us from manufacturer’s blinkers, the physical atrium doubling as the marketplace metaphor, a melting-pot of heterogenous segments. It works best when there is constant conversational interaction, it works sufficiently even if that does not exist. When an International Yoga Day is celebrated with gusto or when a nutrition expert cautions wisely about late-night-binging, there is a subtle, yet definite impact on professional worldview. To the interested observer, the diverse populace is an able representation of the business customer, offering inspiration and ideas from actions and dialogues, well-facilitated by the breezy architecture earnestly mandated. Dedicated offices, even in large commercial complexes, do not lend themselves to this inclusive interaction, fostering instead the practice of constantly looking within, truly dangerous in our times.
Culture, that intuitive magic potion binding employees, will benefit immensely from the Co-Working environment. It will permit the new-age officer, blending ethical affiliation with wishful exploration, the chance to stay grounded while taking flight in imagination and engagement. Happiness is an integral element of the co-working space, so companies will not have to try extra hard, the daily co-curricular agenda (for WeWork certainly) making the HR task far easier. In fact, this can easily become a recruitment attraction, youngsters wanting to be part of such setups for its sensorial fluidity, a Third Place in spirit rooted firmly to work. Youthfulness, as a value and not a point of data, is also the stock-in-trade of such locations, thus reducing the average age of cadre quite dramatically, in attitude most certainly.
While productivity at large will certainly be enhanced, the biggest difference will certainly be in the dominion of innovation. We all know by now that innovation is the final frontier for the super-intelligent Indian, a rigid culture of engineering preventing the right brain from coming sufficiently to the party. Free-flowing physical spaces, blessed with sufficient formality, can be the beginning of this change, leading seamlessly to the opening of the mind. This connection has been proven successfully by successive studies, the correlation between liberal physicality and original thinking. In fact, as a manpower innovation, companies must consider placing their closest-to-customer divisions (Marketing and Product Development) in a location like WeWork, through such new-age outsourcing. Imagine Pepsi, GSK, GE and Ford and others taking such a bold move to help crack the elusive consumer code, currently threatening sustainability of major businesses. They will benefit immensely from this environment, reporting to the traditional headquarters easily facilitated through video-conferencing and neighbourly visits. In an increasingly asset-light world, the CFO will certainly see sense in this model, resources enhanced or depleted in just a month’s notice, without any responsibility for infrastructure. The DIY systems of such workplaces will also reduce the dependences of the typical Indian manager, walking to get your own print-out or cup of coffee a limited but definite marker of lighter hierarchies.
As mentioned earlier in brief, the influence on culture promises to be the finest legacy of the co-working space when fine-tuned to ripeness. Culture in terms of innovation, happiness, diversity, interactions and most notably, a potent blend of ownership and exposure, finally two unified, not divergent, entities. If you are single or mid-sized, nimble and delighted to mingle, seeking an edge designed to last, shift to a co-working space today. When we start working like the way the world works, our potential will be closer to fulfilment.
(Shivaji Dasgupta is the Founder of INEXGRO Brand Advisory and can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org)
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