August 18, 2014

Collaborative workspaces at Social

One of the many joys of working as a freelancer is that you can work from anywhere, from a cafe or even in your pajamas. No more cubicles and fluorescent lighting. The only thing is, try sitting in a cafe while sipping on a solo cappuccino for four hours straight and you start to feel like a common wi-fi thief. Your work day is interrupted by unruly children, loud kitty parties and sometimes, surreptitious glances from cafe staff who will continuously proffer the menu, hoping that you’ll take a hint and either eat something or leave.

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The other option is working from home. Yes, pajamas are great, but close proximity to your bed and fridge can have serious side effects on your productivity. Working at home can also get very lonely, and the opportunities to meet and connect with people is practically non-existent.

Co-working spaces have proliferated in other countries as an answer to this dilemma. For a monthly fee, you get access to a desk, necessary services such as high-speed internet, a printer and office supplies, and an environment of like-minded people around you. Here, you’re expected to get in when it opens and stay as long as you like, and interaction between fellow “co-workers” is encouraged.

In India, the trend is starting to catch on, and we’ve seen a few spaces come up all over the place. Social Offline is the latest entrant, and having opened workspaces in Bangalore and Delhi in the last year, the founders have now set their sights on Mumbai with Colaba Social. Impresario, the parent company of Social, is also responsible for the ever-popular Smokehouse Delis, Saltwater Cafes and Mocha restaurant chains, but this is their first foray into creating spaces designed for work and fun.

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Riyaaz Amlani, CEO & MD, says “at first, it might seem revolutionary. To us, we saw it as something that was already happening. We just decided to make it official.

“People have been coming in to use our cafes to work from, hold meetings, make presentations. All we did was build a space that caters to that need, a productive space driven by a radical 9-6 creative community, a space for doers and makers to work and network.”

Social is a collaborative workspace, a hub for artists, designers, and innovators. Offering boardrooms, conference areas and wall space and independent working areas, the Social saw the need to take people offline while still keeping them connected; creating a place where networking can happen.

Shobita Kadan, President of Marketing at Impresario, explained “Coffee shops and cafes have been projected as your “Third Place”, a place away from home and your work/college. With Social, we’re introducing the Second Place concept for the very first time in restaurant history, a place where you can both work and play.”

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The interiors of the spaces have been left raw and “undressed” – a blank slate for creative people who use the space to interpret in their own way. All the furniture consists of up-cycled or repurposed pieces. The overall branding of the Social is laid-back and projects a distinct attitude that reflects the sort of people they hope to attract. The emphasis is on small, cheeky details that are hidden in plain sight. While anyone can walk in to the restaurant, workspaces are reserved for members who pay a small monthly fee redeemable towards food and beverages. Applications go through a selection process, where the Social team tries to create a dynamic mix of people, whose skills and interests might complement each other. It’s where entrepreneurs meet photographers, writers meet web developers, creative independents meet to bounce ideas off like-minded peers.

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The Colaba Social is much smaller than the Bangalore and Delhi outposts, which average several thousand square feet, with ample space for multiple uses. Plans are underway for a significantly larger Social in Lower Parel.

One of the aspects of the Social that definitely hits the mark is their pricing. While spending your entire work day at a cafe can seriously hurt your wallet, the Social have made a concerted effort to keep the food and even drinks affordable. They’ve also put their daily staff meal on the menu, so if you’re in the mood for ghar ka khaana, the Social will make you feel right at home.

For more details about how Social Offline works, visit socialoffline.in
To apply for membership, fill in an application here

Photos by Shobita Kadan

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