Big or small – coworking is for everyone

Asia Pacific /

Coworking has become ubiquitous in the last few years. According to a global coworking survey 2015-2016 done by coworking publication Deskmag, the number of coworking spaces worldwide surged from 75 in 2007 to more than 7,000 in 2015—an annual compounded growth of 79 percent. This global coworking boom is fuelled by the start-up culture, advances in technology and the demand for greater flexibility from employees across organizations.

The proliferation of coworking spaces in Asia Pacific

Asia Pacific has seen a rapid rise in coworking spaces over the past few years as well. The number of coworking spaces in Singapore has grown from one in 2009 to more than 30 offices in 2016 and is set to grow further.

With the number of people using shared workspaces expected to hit one million in Asia Pacific by 2018, we predict a proliferation of coworking spaces in major cities such as New Delhi, Melbourne, Mumbai, Hong Kong, Singapore, Shanghai and Sydney, comprising domestic and international coworking space operators such as WeWork, Regus and Collective works.

Regina Lim, National Director, Capital Markets at JLL agrees, saying “By 2030, coworking spaces could make up 10 to 15 percent of office stock in Southeast Asia, compared to only 1­­–5 percent today.”

Your case for coworking

Coworking is more than just a trend, it has affected the way employees are expected to work. While you might think that coworking is not suited for your organization, there are many benefits to coworking that also support broader business strategies. They include:

  • Collaboration: By allowing flexibility in where your employees work, they can easily collaborate with other employees, driving benefits such as knowledge sharing and innovation.
  • Innovation: With the introduction to new networks, coworking spaces provide a positive atmosphere for creative thinking and access to new ideas, approaches or technologies.
  • Flexibility: Coworking can help satisfy the growing demand for agility, fluidity and liquidity of space—without the need for an organization-wide change.
  • Talent attraction and retention: Employees are seeking control over how, where and when they work. Coworking can provide your people the mobility and flexibility they are seeking within an aesthetically appealing environment.
  • Cost reduction: In our current competitive economic environment, coworking offers you an opportunity for more efficient utilization of space by reducing costs without compromising on the quality of space.

Many companies have adopted coworking and enjoyed success with it. In 2015, DBS launched a DBS Financial Technologies (FinTech) accelerator in a 5,000 square feet coworking space named “The Vault” in Hong Kong. The accelerator is designed to help entrepreneurs facilitate the creation of ventures that can drive wealth creation and serve increasingly sophisticated customer needs, leveraging on “FinTech-focused disruptive technologies”. Since its launch, The Vault has connected innovators from across Asia and around the world and boosted the Fintech industry in Hong Kong. It is currently undergoing its second edition of the program.

Four models of coworking; a solution for every need

According to JLL’s report, a new era of coworking, there are four core coworking models that you can adopt, depending on your needs.

Internal collaboration
Internal coworking spaces can be created exclusively for employees seeking to improve collaboration, knowledge sharing and encourage innovative thinking. As there is no exposure to external companies, this model minimizes security risk and works well if security of data is one of your primary concerns.

Coworking memberships
In this model, memberships in external coworking spaces may be purchased to offer a variety of locations to your employees and accommodate any temporary increases in workforce. This is particularly great if your organization is fast-expanding and facing real estate limitations.

External coworking space
Another option is to work alongside a specialist provider to create a dedicated or ring-fenced external coworking area. This model results in minimal disruption to your existing space and allows you to test coworking with specific areas of the business before introducing more widespread change. It provides all the benefits of internal and external innovation and is associated with a lower risk of disruption.

Internal coworking space
This is a popular option that many companies are beginning to adopt. Companies behave like a coworking space operator by opening up a specific space to entrepreneurs and start-ups, often for free. This model provides access to a subject matter expert ecosystem and proximity to talent, enabling you to tap into knowledge and innovation pools; providing the fantastic value to your organization, especially if it has been exhausted from the inside.

Coworking is for everyone

Coworking is no longer perceived as a new age workplace practice, suitable only for start-ups. In fact, more companies of different sizes from various sectors are exploring the option to innovate, tap into entrepreneurial culture and take their organization to the next level. It is also a cost-efficient way of creating a flexible environment and provide a range of intangible benefits to improve your company’s competitive position.

Interested in coworking but not sure where to start? Here are four key points to consider before deciding on the right coworking model to adopt:

  1. Having a clear understanding of the objective: Is the goal to promote innovation, encourage a cultural change, or attract talent?
  2. Weighing coworking solutions against your company’s resources, level of investment, and time constraints
  3. Mitigating the risks of potential threats by selecting a coworking model that can minimize the risks based on the identified thresholds
  4. Testing the model. Move from a model of the least operationally complex to a more multifaceted setting involving a larger group of participants. This will ensure that the cultural impact is minimized and controlled.

Interested to find out more about Future of Work? Learn more about our outlook on the changing world of work here.

To find out more how you can make coworking work for your company, click here.