Opinion | Consider option of co-working offices while travelling on business
If you travel a lot, sign up for a co-working space that provides a roaming membership
During the years of my career in business development, my travels took me to many cities around the globe. And while there were opportunities to work at the local offices of my organization, there were also many trips to cities where there were no offices. At that point of time, I would work from my hotel room when not in meetings.
For those of you who have been in the same situation as I was, you know that hotel rooms are not the best places to work, given you don’t have all the facilities you need. I’ve worked out of rooms with slow internet connections, with bad lighting, uncooperative air conditioners, and all sorts of impediments that would hamper productivity. To mitigate those circumstances, or on days I just had day travel, I would sometimes work out of coffee shops, inevitably spending money on beverages I did not need, to make sure I could use the space.
I first walked into a co-working space a couple of years ago, and I instantaneously felt the difference in my productivity. A co-working space is a sort of an open office, with a mix of flexible “hot desks", private offices and meeting rooms. There are many brands of co-working spaces in India, including global players such as WeWork, Indian players such as Awfis and CoWrks, and city-only players such as Ministry of New in Mumbai.
Co-working offices are not new. They’ve existed in the form of executive offices lurking around in the corners, and you would remember seeing a Regus board in the major metropolises in the country.
Over the years I’ve figured, even though I work from a single office most days, I’ve found it productive to keep a co-working space membership in my pocket, even if I spend only a fraction of my time in a month there. There are many reasons to consider a co-working office. The lights are always on, the printers are available, so even if I have to work late, I can depend on them. Having a working space, allows me to keep my personal and professional life separate. However, do check if the co-working space you are signing up for allows 24X7 access. It’s only a feature available in few co-working spaces, so don’t depend on everyone for it.
If you travel a lot, you could sign up with someone who provides you a roaming membership, such as WeWork or Regus. This should be of interest because it would enable you to travel across cities as a tenant at a co-working outfit and be able to access exactly the same facilities across the globe. This provides a certain amount of consistency which enables your travel since you don’t need to configure new internet passwords or printers on the road. Even in the same city, it allows for better use of time, which is great in a city like Mumbai where one could easily spend one hour commuting for a meeting one-way.
The other reason to look at co-working spaces is the ability to network. Co-working thrives on networking, and various outfits have different approaches to it. For instance, WeWork organizes Monday morning breakfasts, frequent networking events and provides access to an app, which doubles up as a closed social network. At Awfis, they would organize events. What also helps is that a lot of people work next to each other in an open space, so that helps in striking up conversations as well.
Last but not the least, holding a co-working membership solves another major problem. The constant struggle to find a place to conduct meetings ends, since one can just book a meeting room, good for anything as small as two people to as large as a group of ten or more, sometimes with just an app and at other times, with a community manager. This has saved so much productive time normally spent scouring and negotiating meeting room rates with other meeting room vendors such as hotels over a period of time.
While signing up for a co-working space ensure if their network works for you, the time they are able to keep the office for you, what benefits your membership gives you as a part of the bundle and what opportunities does the network offer you. Also, as a business traveller, look out for the portability as well, meaning, ability to use the membership across locations. Then get set to reap the productivity benefits that comes with it.
Elevate Your Travel is a column for the business travellers by a business traveller.
Ajay Awtaney is founder and editor of Livefromalounge.com, a frequent-flyer website.