Author : Sabrina Korreck

Occasional PapersPublished on Jun 19, 2020 PDF Download
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New Space for the Future of Work: Co-working in India

  • Sabrina Korreck

    The nature of work is changing, leading to the loss of some jobs and the creation of others that require radically changed skills. In India, as the requirements of this evolving labour market change, co-working spaces fulfil many of the new needs. The aim of this paper is twofold: to describe the development of the co-working industry in India, its driving factors, as well as the architecture, design and social aspects of the work environment; and explore the demographics of co-workers, the kind of jobs they do, their work conditions, interactions, career aspirations, and satisfaction levels. The study builds on a survey of 462 people working at co-working spaces operated by WeWork, and was supplemented by interviews with staff, as well as a literature review.

Attribution:

 Sabrina Korreck, “New Space for the Future of Work: Co-working in India,” ORF Occasional Paper No. 255, June 2020, Observer Research Foundation.

Introduction

The nature of work, in India and in other parts of the world, is changing due to emerging technologies associated with the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) such as artificial intelligence, robotics, internet of things, and cloud computing. As a consequence, major socio-economic transformations will characterise the future of work: Many jobs are being lost, while other jobs, some of which have not existed before, are being created. In India, it is predicted that by the year 2022, only 54 percent of jobs will remain unchanged, while nine percent of the workforce would be deployed in new jobs that do not even exist today.[i] A significant number of jobs require new and radically changed skills and it is estimated that 37 percent jobs in India fall into this category.

Moreover, the future of work often requires different ways of working. In particular, flexible and agile ways of working will become more common as they allow companies to react faster to changing conditions in the business environment. Along with this trend, more work will be project-based and involve external staff, which in turn increases the importance of networking and social skills. Work life will also be influenced by the pressure for cost efficiency and by the expectations of the “millennial generation”, who are seen as the driving force behind the growing digital economy.

Purposefully designed offices can facilitate such new ways of working and co-working spaces fulfill many of these changing requirements of the labour market. As the concept has become increasingly popular over the past few years, the number of spaces has increased fast, and today India is considered the second largest market in the co-working industry after China.

This paper describes the development of the co-working industry in India, its driving factors, as well as the architecture, design and social aspects of the work environment. It explores the demographic profile of co-workers, what kind of jobs they do and the work conditions thereof, their patterns of interactions with other co-workers and how they benefit from them, their career aspirations, and satisfaction levels. The study builds on a survey of 462 people working at co-working spaces operated by WeWork in Gurgaon, Haryana. The study was supplemented by interviews with staff from the co-working spaces, and a review of literature.

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