The Rise of Global Coworking
Over the last 5 years the word 'coworking' has become increasingly prominent throughout the working work.A trend that started in America has now found its way in almost every city you can think of. Coinciding with ever more advancing technology and younger generations who work and think differently to their predecessors. coworking has become, for most, a convenient place to work for those seeking a modern fully equipped office space at a low cost.
I was first introduced to coworking back in 2015 by a developer based in Dubai. Over the following weeks I began researching coworking on a global scale and was amazed to find out exactly how fast the office industry was evolving. The questions I asked myself were:
Why is the global office space scene changing?
Why are workers shifting from traditional offices spaces to coworking locations?
What does the future hold for coworking in Asia?
Here are a number of key points which have led to such drastic change in the office space scene.
The 2008 financial collapse has forced companies to seek alternatives to traditional long-term lease office spaces. Office leases tend to be a major expenditure for most companies and being able to adopt more flexible workspaces for those employees who do not need a fixed desk 24/7 makes sense.
Younger generations value convenience more than their predecessors. Having a coworking membership allows members to work anywhere they want for as long as they want without holding them to a fixed term contract.
Regus and Servecorp are outdated and expensive. For new startups a serviced office is often the only option they have over taking their own long-term lease with expensive refurbishment costs. Coworking has provided all the benefits of a Regus model with many more perks, open spaces, at only a fraction of the cost.
Networking is key to most businesses. If you have a traditional office it is sometimes difficult to connect to others. Regus and Servecorp provide private offices for each company with little to no communal space. Coworking embraces networking and often has multiple large open spaces and mobile applications where all members can start a dialogue with each other. Coworking spaces often also hold in-house events where local companies can pitch their business services/products to each other.
It was clear to me why millions of workers are opting for this unique style of office. This led me to look at our local markets and find out if places like Singapore and Malaysia were exposed to this contagious coworking frenzy.
in 2015 Singapore had two luxury coworking locations while Malaysia had none. When I say "luxury'' I refer to a modern standard of office space like the one in the top photograph. Both Singapore and Malaysia have many coworking locations that are not "luxury". The spaces were poorly converted, warehouse type spaces which often can only attract the young crowd who are on a very tight budget.
By 2017 Singapore had amassed to 36 Luxury coworking locations while Malaysia rose to 6. Upon visiting a few of them in Singapore and personally working in 3 of the locations in Malaysia, to my surprise they were all 100% full within the first 6 months of launching, some even sooner.
The largest coworking company in the world right now is an American based firm called Wework. They have over 120 locations across the world with over 55,000 members. They are the only global player with offices in multiple countries which made them the pioneers of the industry.
Every other coworking company I have researched stay local. They have not opened offices in multiple countries which is where I see the gap in the market. Being able to offer members a place to work in the cities they travel to the most can enhance the value of a single membership and opens up countless cross border networking opportunities for millions of members.
2 years ago, I met with a man named Sean Phillips. Sean was one of the founding members of the largest gym chain in the world, Fitness First. He saw the potential to open a company that rivals Wework and started a new company called Ourspace. With their first office now open in Spain and Dubai close to follow, this will make them the second coworking company on the planet to have locations in multiple countries. These guys will be the ones to watch out for over the next 5 years.