Post-pandemic, what does the future hold for co-working spaces in Asia? Will co-working continue to grow as more employees in Asia embrace hybrid lifestyles and flexible work opportunities? Emerging trends include community co-working, non-traditional models and corporate “Core and Flex” arrangements — as small and large businesses embrace the sharing economy.
Rise of community coworking: for parents, female-only spaces, coworking kitchens, and hackerspaces
Shared-Purpose Coworking Communities for Brand Loyalty
In 2022, we’re seeing more coworking spaces dedicated to a certain industry, or cause. For instance: coworking for parents, female-only spaces, coworking kitchens, coworking for tech, and hackerspaces. Collaborating over shared interests and expanding networks in a coworking space that’s specifically designed for your industry is a trend that’s strengthening in recent years.
The Wing, The Coven, Make Lemonade, One Roof and others have built thriving women- focused co-working communities. Started as a pop-up coworking space exclusively for women, One Roof saw a footfall of 200,000 people annually and was set to move to a new location by the end of 2019, until COVID hit. Helped by its strong community, One Roof pivoted to a digital membership for women leaders and entrepreneurs. In Asia Pacific — Hong Kong’s pet-friendly Garage Society, Singapore’s 80 RR Fintech Hub, progressive Eaton House, and others have created industry-specific and purpose-driven communities for creative professionals and digital nomads.
Community Coworking: The Hive in Jinnan, Tokyo
Corporate Coworking: “Core and Flex” for Big Businesses
Across Asia Pacific, non-traditional office locations are gaining popularity as their health and wellness benefits for employees and cost benefits to employers become apparent. With Fortune 500 companies like HSBC, Ernst & Young, Microsoft, and many others opting for satellite offices for employees worldwide, the future for corporate coworking looks optimistic.
The recent merger between The Instant Group and the technology operations of IWG, the world’s largest coworking operator, and the addition of DaVinci Virtual Office Solutions, a provider of virtual office solutions has interesting implications for the coworking world. The trend towards corporate coworking is evident when we consider how WeWork’s clients have evolved — in 2010 its members were predominantly freelancers, small business and startups, but more recently 40% of its clients are enterprises and large organisations with 500 or more full time employees.
Coworking for Enterprises grows in popularity as employers embrace hybrid
Dynamic Pricing, Suburban and Retail CoWorking, and More
Coworking is designed around flexibility and this has meant flexibility in terms of the contract, spaces and timings. But operators studying coworking trends have noticed obvious weekly and seasonal patterns — with employees preferring to working Mondays and Fridays at home and the rest of the week in a shared space.
As operators aim to sustain high capacity throughout the year, they’re leveraging new pricing structures to encourage more business in quiet months. Or encouraging flex workspaces for corporations looking to scale up or down as their employee needs change.
COVID-19 saw workers across industries work from home in the suburbs, and coworking operators have made note of pockets of demand for flexible workspaces closer to suburbs and smaller towns to meet the needs of working parents keen to cut down on commutes, but eager for a professional space closer to their residences. The quest for work-life balance has meant that coworking spaces across the world have opportunities to expand their offerings to include childcare services, fitness facilities, and more.
These are part of a larger post-pandemic trend that blurs boundaries between retail, office, residential and industrial real estate. Coworking spaces are featuring retail brands, retail spaces are using stores as fulfilment centres, office spaces are showcasing retail products, retail stores and coffee chains are debuting coworking spaces.
Coworking in Asia will embrace unconventional growth models
The startup environment and gig culture were what drove the co-working spaces boom in APAC up until the pandemic, with very few corporates globally going the shared spaces way. Going forward we are likely to witness more and more big corporations adopting co-working spaces over traditional offices and exploring “Core and Flex” arrangements, where enterprises occupy a long-term office space (core) and a flexible workspace somewhere else (flex). Hot desks or private cabins as satellite offices in shared work areas complement core office spaces, helping enterprises save on overhead expenses of large office spaces and offering flexibility to manage their real estate footprints.
Eaton House Hong Kong blurs the boundaries between hospitality, coworking and activism
As co-working recovers post pandemic, players are expanding to new locations, exploring new growth models: buy now pay later, franchising, mergers and acquisitions, and leveraged growth. We’re seeing co-working expand and evolve in non-traditional ways.
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