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Is your co-working space inclusive?

Over the past decade organisations across sectors have shown a positive and more dedicated shift towards the commitment of creating an inclusive, equitable and diverse workplace. We have come a far way from corporate boardrooms displaying intent to now committing budgets and designing policies that help convert that intent into consistent action.

There is progress towards analysing how individual identities and experiences have a significant impact on the work environment and subsequently towards the growth of a business.

While a lot is being done towards this commitment,  we still have to take conscious steps that allow a safe work space that enables an individual to bring one’s whole self to work.

While individual businesses strive to up their DE&I impact, there are business solutions like the shared workspaces, that strategically focus towards curating a more inclusive and diverse work environment. *As per a recent JLL report, the co-working sector in India is expected to cross 50 million sq ft by the end of this year.

Co-working spaces or shared workspaces offer a lot of benefits to their members as well as their own employees.

Impact by design

Shared workspaces offer corporates a variety of options to operate out of different geographical locations, provide access  24*7 and reduce their capital expenditure as well as operational hassle significantly. By choosing to be a part of a co-working space companies are able to reduce their commute time, access their workspace as per their convenience and also embrace flexible work culture. 

By custom designing the workspace as per a customer’s requirements and by being a partner who works with them to understand their values, their team and their brand, we are able to subtly yet effectively allow for their culture to shine through their workspace. For example teams having the freedom to sit in an open workspace layout or a private cabin, being part of a larger member community and having the ability to interact with individuals from various backgrounds helps enhance their workplace experience.

It allows members to be a part of a workspace that is designed to include the differently-abled as well. For example at Dextrus, we have accessible washrooms, wheelchair accessible buildings, signages that help navigate the space easily etc.

Inclusivity is more a feeling than a statistic

A lot of co-working spaces make conscious efforts to add value beyond just offering a desk space. Partnerships that add travel benefits, offer discounts and access to a variety of healthy and conscious FnB options, collaborations with organisations like Mann, that help you hire differently-abled and allow them to be a part of your team etc help offer a well curated and wholesome employee experience.

A lot of workshops, learning and development sessions and events that are curated by the community team help companies keep their team members engaged, help them have equal access to resources and upskilling opportunities and be a part of something much larger. For example a ‘Gifting for Good’  activity wherein members have the opportunity to learn about an NGO, interact with their beneficiaries and make meaningful donations, helps instill a sense of purpose and community among all.

Leading by example and intent

A lot of the internal policies of co-working spaces in turn allow room to create awareness, inspire action and have the ability to formulate policies. For example an initiative to help ‘Make your workspace a Zero Waste office space’ can help inculcate a habit of reducing use of paper, help replace plastic and create a policy of waste segregation. Creating awareness towards a robust anti discrimination policy that can be implemented via awareness sessions, fun games and activities, role plays etc allow for employees and members to be conscious of workplace ethics and conduct.

Creating a safe space to share and form communities that help empower and offer growth opportunities, for example collaborative women’s groups across employees and members can bring together women coworkers for a cause. A workspace that fosters mental well being and has access to well being activities like yoga, meditation, recreational games etc allow you to take a break from work and connect with your passion and yourself.

Impact by collective experiences

As individuals and as organisations our story of inclusion and our identity will be different, but it is important to acknowledge and respect each journey and its significance. It’s equally important to be cognizant of cultural and geographical influences and ensure it does not hinder the experience we create for one another.

Individually, as organisations and teams, we are held back by the limitations of our knowledge and experiences. However, as part of a larger ecosystem, we have access to diverse perspectives and resources that can enrich our inclusion journey.

The goal should be to design policies and experiences not just for ideals but for tangible realities, and this is possible by treating different people differently but with equal respect.

(Guncha Khare, Senior Director Strategy, Dextrus)

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