There are some misconceptions around coworking. The image that springs to mind when coworking is mentioned is the instagram shot of a large, cool, open plan workspace with millennials working away on macbooks wearing t-shirts and jeans. The reality is different, in fact, over 60% of users are aged 30 to 50.

Coworking, by definition, is a working practice that involves different businesses collaborating for a greater end result – the physical manifestation of this is not necessarily sharing an open plan work environment, it can be achieved through slick technology platforms, as well as physically occupying space in close proximity to other businesses. The most successful coworking operators offer curated environments where a Community Manager knows their members intimately and is able to engineer the environment to ensure the success of individual businesses and facilitate collaboration within their community and beyond. 

Initially, coworking was simply an open-plan workspace where small businesses worked in close physical proximity and often collaborated, or chose spaces where they had synergies with other users of the space. This type of space boomed around three years ago, driven in part by the growth in the contingent workforce and funding of start-ups. In the past few years, start-up growth in the region has been enormous, particularly in Singapore and China. However, multinational corporations have seen the benefit of using this space and are increasingly common users. 

The early incarnations of coworking as a physical product have now morphed into what could be considered similar to traditional serviced offices, but with a more contemporary design, often including exposed ceilings, wooden floors and glass partitions, teamed with extensive break-out areas designed to bring end users together physically, while relying on technology to provide a platform for collaboration. These spaces often have larger private offices than traditional serviced offices, enabling them to capture larger teams and, in turn, be attractive to both multinational corporations and start-ups. 

The model differs from operator to operator, but loosely speaking we are now seeing a split of 80% private offices to 20% of open plan working and lounge areas where end users can work and interact. 

Finally, we are also seeing traditional serviced offices starting to remodel their spaces to accommodate a more modern look, often with similar design and greater lounge areas – with traditional serviced office and coworking space converging, the term ‘flexible workspace’ has arisen to encompass both.

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