December 16, 2016 12:26 AM NPT
By: Joshna Karki
What was once a novel idea is slowing gaining traction here in Kathmandu
Ready to get out of your room or that coffee shop and into a real office? Before you strike out on your own and get locked into a long-term lease that you might later regret, consider a co-working space. They’re more affordable, full of other start-up geeks like you, and probably cooler than any office your start-up could afford. This innovative alternative to traditional office spaces allows independent workers and entrepreneurs to share an open workspace instead of the traditional cubicle or makeshift set up in a coffee shop. Co-working has proven to be beneficial in both running a successful business and maintaining a professional career.
While this idea has been around internationally for a while now, it’s only slowly catching up in Nepal. You no longer need to rent and renovate an entire office if you are looking for a personal working space in Kathmandu anymore. There are places that are defying the convention of what you would call an ‘office’ by providing working spaces that you can rent by the hour, week, or month. Co-working spaces provide facilities like that of an office – internet, photocopier, meeting room et al – at reasonable prices and can be used for a private working space. The added advantage, however, is that these collaborative spaces provide opportunities for people and companies to share ideas and network besides being extremely cost effective. With the prices of rentals increasing on a daily basis, co-working spaces can be the perfect solution for those looking for a place to work from at nominal cost.
The Platform Inc Uttar Dhoka, Lazimpat
“The main concept of creating a co-working space has been to give birth to collaboration for idea generation among freelancers, nomads, and expats of the Kathmandu and Lalitpur valley. Mainly, its target is to promote the freelancing culture in the valley,” says Kushal Bajracharya, marketing director of The Platform Inc.
The culture of co-working is evolving in the valley and it is serving well to the needs of workers who prefer being their own boss while having nothing to worry about running their office. The Platform Inc. is one of the few such spaces that cater to the wants of people who believe in rising up from the rigidity of a closed desk work to network with people and have cross-cultural learning.
“Focus on your Business while we run your office”
The Platform Inc is a place that provides all types of entrepreneurs a fully facilitated workspace to develop their business at an affordable price. The membership works on daily, monthly and yearly basis with a black smart card giving access to all facilities in its head office at Lazimpat and its sub-office, Evoke – a partnered cafe at Jhamsikhel.
There are different kinds of workspace available according to the needs of the worker.
Hot desks are usually preferred by foreigners and creative workers. It is a communal workspace perfect for those who work unusual hours. You can also have a designated workspace which you share with other members from nine to five. If you would rather prefer a private space for yourself then you can even rent a space for yourself that’s detached (or hidden) from the rest of the working area.
People who work from these shared workspaces claim that they have been more productive and meeting new people from different backgrounds has actually helped their businesses expand. “There’s flexibility of pricing and it’s a nice space for people who are starting off as they can focus on what to do rather than worry about logistics,” said one of the renters at The Platform Inc. Another said that it was convenient and comfier than coffee shops, not to mention cheaper. Also the fact that it’s not intimidating like a formal workspace enhances their creativity.
The Platform Inc provides spacious rooms for meeting and hosting events. With a power back-up and high-speed internet, it has magnetic swipe card security system. Storage solutions and mailing services with printing, scanning and photocopy services are among the other facilities available here. Importantly, it helps in building community networks with access to beverage and lounge. In a bimonthly basis, The Platform Inc organizes Train of Thoughts, a workshop where it selects the best three new startups providing expert opinions and feedbacks to enhance its job model. E-Beema, AAMO, Bhav Products, Hatti Hatti are some of the business that started from here.
Bikalpa Art Center
Bikalpa is a cultural community space where musicians, artists, filmmakers come and utilize its huge space for multiple purposes. It serves unlimited tea, has fast internet, charge less auditorium and discounts in its cafe for members.
Yoan Robin, a typographist, graphic designer, painter and machine designer, who worked for the opening sequence of How Funny, had rented a space in Patan Museum before and now after working in the studio of Bikalpa, which he has rented for a month says, “It is big enough to install the craftwork, wide and easy to work on different things and is completely free from sights and sounds of the hustle bustle of city life. After work, I can come down from my studio and relax by attending the different events hosted by the café. There are band performances and movie screenings hosted by the cafe.
Working at coffee shops can be a bit intimating. There is that occasional glare from the waiter, and the constant pressure to order something to keep using their free WiFi. But at Bikalpa Art Center, that has a café attached to it, you can work without feeling out of place. With a nominal fee, you can escape the rush of the city, the traffic noise, and work at your pace and convenience all day long. Since the place is also surrounded by trees and has a spacious outdoor area, you won’t feel cooped up like you would at a regular office.
At Bikalpa Art Center, there are private rooms, shared spaces, hotspots, and larger studio spaces. The shared spaces too have private tables and lockers. The studio space here is ideal for artists, craftsman and people involved in creative works. People register online and it’s usually youngsters and entrepreneurs looking for such working space for experimentation of their ideas. The fact that the price is reasonable – Rs 3000 to Rs 10,000 on a monthly basis contributes to its popularity too. The cost of bigger studio rooms are, however, a little higher.
The benefit of working at a co-working space like Bikalpa Art Center is that you are surrounded by creative and innovative people and ideas. And the lineup of people keeps changing which makes the working environment vibrant and fun.
In co-working spaces, the people around you can present so many opportunities. They could include your future business partner, someone who gives you the piece of advice that gets your business rolling, or even a potential client. For this reason alone, a co-working space can be the perfect environment to begin on any
At home, you may be used to waking up at 12 am, working till 9 pm, and doing some of your work on the sofa. This may not be the most productive option. Working in a co-working space, however, you can become accustomed to working with the office’s opening hours, and develop a healthier work routine. Having others around you working hard, is also the best motivation to keep you going on.
Some co-working space companies offer business services, helping companies start-up, grow and stay up-to-date. At The Platform Inc at Lazimpat, a range of such services are on offer. They organize workshops where you can share your ideas, get feedback and expert opinions too to enhance your business idea.
A co-working space can be a great option, especially for start-ups, in that it requires less financial commitment. All-inclusive membership fees including all amenities can be a life-saver when comes to starting up a business. You don’t have to worry about skyrocketing rent costs and paying for the utilities when you just have to shell out a fixed weekly, monthly or yearly cost.
One of the best benefits of co-working space is the supportive environment of people around you, who can provide advice, share their experiences or expertise and also be a source of motivation. You will feel like working when you see others hard at work, and sometimes working with likeminded people, you can also draw inspiration and strength from them.
Working at home, where you sleep, eat and are always surrounded by the same environment can hamper inspiration and those creative bursts. Being in an entrepreneurial, innovative environment, however, can help boost entrepreneurial thinking. It also allows for easy reach for advice and solutions to problems.