After my last article on coworking spaces, I was intrigued to learn that a company like Discovery Channel recently moved their entire headquarters to WeWork, a coworking space. I found this interesting because the last office they occupied was at Maker Maxity, the plush, conventional office complex in Bandra-Kurla Complex, Mumbai.
The Discovery team confirms that the 24/7 culture of a coworking office suits their ‘Agile Working’ policy. It’s a combination of flexible working hours, locations and improved autonomy on team projects. This is feasible in a coworking space since it provides a blend of hot desks, quiet zones and team tables. Over and above this, the meeting rooms are plentiful and can be booked for any immediate requirements – something that a traditional workspace would not make possible. As one Discovery team member says, “We can move around the space depending on our productivity. More importantly, companies can book any meeting room from any of the 16 floors available, through a special app.”
According to the folks from Discovery Channel, the greatest advantage from the move to a coworking space has been the surge in opportunities to connect with people of different unique abilities. Participating in the coworking space community activities allows team members to interact with other companies. Coworking space providers also strive to keep the ambience upbeat with a series of events and activations, to bring all the companies together. These events could range from something as simple as a community breakfast to a post-work stand-up comedy evening for the coworkers.
The shared ecosystem also has an impact on the work culture inside each team. Aside from young startups, Discovery now shares its workspace with companies ranging from Jaguar-Land Rover to channels run by YouTube comedians. Discovery Channel India thus gets an environment dynamic enough to be charged with the innovation of a car manufacturer as well as the diverse energy of creative writers. Coworking spaces also offer unique value additions to enrich the office experience. For instance, the music played across all WeWork branches globally is streamed from a central radio station. So the teams working out of the New York office would be listening to the same stream as the ones working out of the Mumbai office. It’s a small but noteworthy step taken to add a global touch.
Another thing that struck me as significant about Discovery’s move to a coworking space was the timing. Around the same time they relocated to WeWork, they also relaunched the channel in India. It is heartening to see the marriage between the administration and business goals of a company. Both sides now work to keep the network’s content young and vibrant, and to attract millennial team members as well. The charged ecosystem of a coworking culture would thus work in their favour. With new-age business gatherings like a community breakfast or Zumba classes – the workspace offers the cosy, modern and spirited atmosphere that most new entrants to the workforce seek.
Discovery Channel has thus emerged as a company that’s not only reinventing its product, but also the ethos of its workspace. They are willing to break away from the staid, structured methods of their predecessors and evolving into something new and unique. Since media companies in India are usually the early adopters of trends, I expect this trend would hit companies from other fields too. Satellite teams of finance companies and software giants have already made their way to coworking environments. It would be interesting to see other large companies setting up their entire core operations out of a coworking space.