As an upcoming and ambitious digital marketer, Ali would often find himself working out of a coffee shop or library, with the former being a popular spot to meet potential clients and finalize “deals”.
Despite the fact that Ali’s work timings were flexible and he was, more or less, his own boss, he needed a formal workplace with a robust infrastructure to help grow his digital marketing services.
In 2018, he came across CoSpace on Main Shahrah-e-Faisal in Karachi and decided to rent a working space for his startup, which now has 15 talented individuals to its name, offering bespoke digital marketing solutions to businesses of all scales.
How popular is Coworking in Pakistan?
In recent years, Pakistan has seen a steady stream of co-working spaces popping up left and right – some not very successful, while others a raving success within weeks.
At heart, the aim of each co-working space is simple: to bring together startups, entrepreneurs, freelancers, work-from-home professionals and small-to-medium business owners under a single roof, offering them access to a fully equipped office space with 24/7 high-speed internet access, housekeeping, dedicated spaces for work and relaxation – the works!
For Ali, the experience wasn’t just limited to being part of a community of like-minded professionals, but also belonging to one that would be quick to offer suggestions, bounce off ideas and network like there’s no tomorrow. A place where he felt ‘professionally safe’ and didn’t feel that he had to hold back his creative flair.
Young Ali is just one of many, many examples who have opted to work from home or bypassed a regular office job altogether to pursue their own business dreams. As such, the demand for well-equipped coworking spaces has witnessed an unprecedented rise in Pakistan, particularly in the last 3 years.
How the co-working trend has gained so much traction in the last 3 years
Many young and mature professionals alike in Pakistan have welcomed the idea of coworking with open arms because some feel that working out of a small and often ill-equipped office can be a depressing, lonely and counter-productive experience.
Others feel that there are minimal opportunities to network, share values or bounce off ideas because of the ideology and culture the management upholds or because the trend simply doesn’t exist to begin with.
Many freelancers and business owners have been overjoyed with the idea of coworking because they say it helps them vent out whatever ‘professional frustrations’ they may have, without having to worry about the repercussions. “Nobody understands at the office, but here at my own coworking space, people not only listen, but they are quick to offer suggestions and helpful remedies. I love how good-spirited everyone is, when it comes to supporting each other professionally”, says Ali.
As of mid-2016, there were close to 30 coworking spaces available for rent all across Pakistan. This number has risen to around 200 coworking spaces at the start of 2020 and is still rising as we speak, as coworking offices continue to become a ‘first choice’ for freelancers, business owners and start-ups alike.