Soundhariya Viswanathan / Reading Time: 6 mins
Google Search : "child friendly coworking spaces in india". Results : zilch (that was relevant).
The result was the same when I searched for other terms like “kid friendly coworking spaces in India”.
This surprised me. The coworking trend has caught on like wildfire in India and yet we don't have one coworking space that is kids friendly? At the same time you search for “pet friendly coworking space in India” you get a few relevant results.
The pandemic has had a silver lining with the adoption of remote work. Many companies are planning to extend this flexibility of working remotely even after the pandemic. This is great in general for knowledge workers from India. It is also great for the economy and is also proving to be the right thing for the environment.
When I searched for child friendly coworking spaces in other parts of the world, I did find a few places in the US, Europe and Asia. This led me to run a poll on LinkedIn to get the pulse.
I am getting right to the results.
90% of the respondents (roughly 800) felt that workspaces in India can do better to accommodate children into the equation. It was also very enlightening to read the comments from people. I am thankful to them for registering their opinion.
LinkedIn Poll - Comments
Overall most of them saw having child friendly coworking spaces as a “must have” in India rather than a “good to have”. I sincerely hope that the flex space and coworking space operators see this and come up with some plans.
The remote working adoption by companies in India and the further opening up of borders for talent to work for companies from anywhere in the world gives us new hope. One population that should be a beneficiary of these new opportunities should be women. Just as a reference point, if we take the Nasscom Women And IT Scorecard – India report you see that qualified women drop out of the workforce after a few years in.
NASSCOM - Women And IT Scorecard – India
The drop percentage is the maximum post-maternity for a woman employee. Remote work opens up an opportunity to address this issue. A 9-5 job that involves a 2 hour commute is unimaginable for a woman that has to nurture her child. If she has the flexibility to work from home and choose the time she works, working and managing a child could be possible. Isn't it?
Many of the workers have moved back to their native cities to be back with their parents. With elders at home, working mothers have the option to work while their child is engaged with their grandparents. How about working mothers in nuclear families? The answer seems to lie with affordable daycare for kids and child friendly coworking spaces.
Europe, North America and even Malaysia have child friendly coworking spaces. Why should India not have one? Can the big labels that operate in India like 91 Springboard, Awfis, WeWork, Cowrks and OYO look at this opportunity and work on it.
Let's look at some examples of child friendly coworking spaces from across the world.
Photo : The Wing
The workspace for professional women offers childcare at two of its locations in New York City's SOHO and West Hollywood, California. The childcare spaces are colorful, inviting and fully furnished. In addition to babysitting services, you can also avail of enrichment classes for kids, like music, art and yoga, as well as workshops for parents.
Photo : The Coven
The Coven offers a space focused on catering to women, non-binary and trans people. The space offers on-site, drop-in childcare provided by trained nannies and babysitters. The Coven offers books, games, puzzles and toys for all ages in the childcare room, as well as age-appropriate activities.
Photo : HackerMoms
HackerMoms is for moms who want to explore creativity, crafts, hacker/maker culture, entrepreneurship. This place offers on-site childcare space. HackerMoms also allows the kids to meander between their room and the workspace so moms can model active, creative lives for their kids.
Photo : JuggleHub, Germany
JuggleHub believes that coworking is much more than a flexible desk. JuggleHub is open for workers with and without children. They are also building a strong community of "ParentPreneurs".
A few more spaces in just photographs to inspire us further.
Photo : LinDees
Parents can keep a watch of their kids playing downstairs in the play area as they work along.
Photo : CoFamily Coworking
Working for many of us might no longer mean travelling 10s of kilometers to an office in another part of the city. Many of us will be looking out for coworking spaces that we can go out to work that are nestled in our own neighborhood. Child friendly coworking spaces could offer the convenience of working near home and at the same time having professional help to take care of our tiny tots while we are at work.
Another trend that could create demand for child friendly coworking spaces is homeschooling. There has been a steady increase (reports say 6% to 8%) in homeschooling of children in India. The pandemic has further increased the interest in homeschooling.
Working parents in tier 1 cities need a solution badly that addresses the challenges of managing a kid and a career side-by-side. De facto it is the women who end up sacrificing their careers in India. If this has got to change we have to make it easier for women to be able to work and yet have someone to take care of their child while they are busy at work. Child friendly coworking spaces seem to be one of the solutions to this conundrum. What do you think?