Bare unfinished walls and naked bulbs coupled with plush leather sofas and community tables lend Social a distinct character — unlike any office space. Impresario Entertainment and Hospitality launched Social earlier this week, a neighbourhood workspace-cum-cafe-cum-bar in a hybrid format that focusses on collaborations between like-minded people in an informal environment. With the advent of technology, changing dynamics of the global labour market and need to break away from monotony, growing number of people opt to work independently. “This is a growing trend in India too. That’s why we call ourselves the second space. Coffee shops call themselves the third space — a home away from home and office. We are a place where you work and play,” says Riyaaz Amlani, whose joint will have a subscription model where you can book table space for a month.
For Erika Taylor, 31, a typical work day involves finding the nearest coffee shop and turning a corner table into her office for a day. “Even when I was living in New York, I never had an office address. I would either work from cafes or from my bed or sofa,” says Taylor, who moved to India three years ago and handles social media for lifestyle brands in India and the US. “Another reason I like working from cafes is because I remain adequately caffeinated.”
Creative folks and artists swear by unconventional spaces to stimulate ideas. “I prefer working from a cafe instead of my office as the change of environment helps in ideation. At the same time, when you meet like-minded people they act as a sounding board for ideas,” says Chaitanya Rele, who works for Kyoorius, a not-for-profit organisation that connects designers. Most freelancers work out of cafes that offer free wi-fi — a feature that draws them in large numbers. “With the availability of free wi-fi at most cafes, it becomes easy for us to show our work and discuss the same when we meet people over a cuppa,” says Taylor. Social has taken this a step forward by offering easily accessible lockers, printers and scanners.
One of the biggest benefits of this ‘work from cafe’ culture for independent professionals is the chance of networking with complete strangers. At Delhi’s Social in Hauz Khas Village, which was launched in July, event planner Geet Nagi met jewellery designer Ageerika Hari. After a few discussions the two have started a luxury fashion event called the Sorbet Soiree in the Capital. Social is also launching a mobile app that will allow those who work from its various outlets to connect with each other. “People can upload their work profile on the app, much like LinkedIn. Once you check in, you can use the app to make professional connections within Social. The app can also be used to put up job-related posts,” adds Shobita Kadan, President of Marketing at Impresario.
Filmmaker Ayudh Roy finds Bandra’s Bagel Shop an ideal spot for meetings and brainstorming sessions but confesses that with many advantages of working from a cafe, come certain disadvantages too. “When you frequent a place, you end up making a lot of friends and this can be distracting. Sometimes you see a pretty face and even that can get very distracting,” says the 34-year-old.
Like most such new-age workspaces, Social functions as a collaborative workspace from 9 am to 9 pm. But post that, Social changes character. As it gets darker the music gets louder and lights are dimmed to create a party atmosphere. After loosening your tie, you can wash down the day’s stress at the bar.
Social at Church Street in Bangalore is already a full house, with more than 50 professionals working out of the space for the past few months. Within a week of its opening, Colaba Social has received over 20 applications and counting. Encouraged by the numbers, Amlani is already scouting for his next location in the city. “We are looking at a bigger space in Lower Parel that can accommodate more people,” he adds.