In a country with the youngest population in the world, and an economy in constant flux, millions are bucking traditional companies and corporate-ladder-climbing to work independently. India is the second largest player in freelancing after the US, according to Elance, an online service that connects freelancers to projects, with average earnings of about $15 (Rs915) per hour and rising. Freelancer.com, one of the world’s largest freelance hubs, reported that even back in 2012 more than one-third of their 3 million users were Indians.
For these freelancers, a normal office is out of the question. So entrepreneurs across the country have launched co-working spaces to provide an alternative to the coffee shop or home office. An alternative, they say, that provides much more than just a desk and WiFi.
A new wave of entrepreneurs and freelancers has created a market for places to work with each other, not just next to each other.
From eco-friendly and artist-led South Delhi spot The Studio to the homey feel of Bombay Connect on the Mumbai seaside, India’s coworking spaces today are as diverse as the characters that use them. Some spaces are filled with artists, writers and activists; others are home to social entrepreneurs, web developers and graphic designers.
They can choose between funky lampshades and graffiti-inspired wall art, or sprawl amid bean bags and beaded curtains. Membership fees typically vary from around 2,000 to 8,000 INR — roughly $30 to $120 — per month, which is much more affordable than renting traditional office space.
“India has a unique mentality, and sometimes it’s difficult to explain this to Western clients if work is delayed or done differently, for example. So I like to cowork with Indians because I can ask for suggestions and get local opinions on things,” said Sarune Baubaite, a French national who runs an online travel agency called Nomaday Travel.