Side by side: Coworking spaces bring in new work culture in Chennai
The south has been at the forefront of the IT boom and today, south Chennai also is seeing several coworking spaces cater to a new kind of work culture that is on the rise.
Almost two decades back, south Chennai saw a new revival thanks to the mushrooming of job opportunities along the IT highway. IT parks were the new norm and hordes of citizens shifted their homes to southern parts of the city. But in the years that have passed, work cultures have undergone a drastic change and today, we are at the cusp of yet another transformation.
In the last few years, co-working spaces have become hugely popular and a preferred option among young professionals. “Buoyed by the central government’s efforts to create a viable eco-system for young entrepreneurs, India is witnessing the mushrooming of multiple start-ups and SMEs across the country. Such businesses are increasingly focusing on coworking spaces,” says Anuj Puri, a realty expert.
Chennai too has had several such spaces come up in the last few years and South Chennai has been abound with coworking spaces. Ashwin Shankar and his brother Shravan started a coworking space in Perungudi in 2014, when the culture was still nascent in the city. Today, their offices are spread across the OMR, Nungambakkam, Alwarpet, Nungambakkam, Guindy, Kilpauk and Anna Nagar.
“We started many of these office spaces close to residential areas as we realised that in our business, location is king. For people who use our premises for part-time work or for specific projects, these neighbourhoods seem to be the right choice. Also, all these offices cater to a different crowd. Our co-working space in Perungudi is largely IT-centric and the one in Nungambakkam caters more to people working in sales and business development. On the other hand, the one in Alwarpet is used for largely creative purposes,” says Ashwin, whose Perungudi and Alwarpet spaces have seen maximum footprint for his network of offices.
A year back Jinal Patel started a co-working space specifically for women in Adyar. She chose Adyar as there was a demand for such an idea in the neighbourhood and connectivity to other parts of the city was also good. “Being a residential area, there isn’t much noise around and it is well connected too. We realised that women are increasingly taking up the path of entrepreneurship (especially post maternity) and are looking for viable space options to work from. Besides, many college students also utilise this space for their work,” she says.
Anuj feels that while many players are jumping on the bandwagon and venturing into co-working space, what bears watching is how they keep pace with the increasing demand for such options from the millennials without really impacting their profit margins. “As long as they are able to sustain a sound business model and earn decent returns on their investments, coworking spaces will continue to thrive,” he says.
Arjun Narayanan, Times Property, The Times of India, Chennai