Even though traditional offices are still around, it's undeniable that they are becoming less popular, since more and more working professionals are now delving into enterprises, small businesses, or freelancing roles. This has contributed to the rise of the shared workspace, which has rapidly spread in popularity around the globe.
Research from CoreNet Global found that while 65% of remote workers in Asia Pacific still prefer to work from home, 21% of workers prefer to work in a shared workspace, as compared to working in coffee shops or hotel lobbies (14%). This is because public venues are not usually effective replacements for offices, due to factors such as security, noise and availability.
The New Wave of Co-working Spaces
Over the years, changes in workspaces were driven by tactical needs such as cutting costs, attracting talents, and increasing collaborations. These are now all made possible with the availability of co-working spaces.
Employers and employees alike are recognizing that today’s workplace is no longer confined to only one location, and can include spaces both within, and outside of, the office.
This trend is growing in Asia Pacific. For example, more than 20 new co-working spaces have sprouted in Singapore within the last two years alone. This number is expected to grow even further in the coming years.
In Australia, major corporations are slowly shifting to agile working, which allows for greater flexibility for their employees. As of now, the co-working trend down-under is highly driven by the changing demographic base in the workforce, technological advances, and growth in the freelance economy. These spaces are also blooming in Hong Kong, with one of the main factors of this growth being the increase in rental and property prices.
Benefits of Co-working to Its Users
Compared to traditional and serviced offices, co-working spaces are largely open, collaborative, collegial and fun. The concept therefore allows users to feel less tied to traditional ways of working, instead encouraging creative freedom, giving individuals more autonomy and satisfaction over their work.
Besides that, co-working users get to focus on their tasks without having to face the rigidity, hierarchy, and politics that often exist in the corporate world. This allows them to do what they love, without external factors disrupting their efficiency. Some co-working spaces also provide special benefits for members: for example, wellness facilities or even childcare services.
Changing Business Priorities
Freelancers and remote workers are not the only people utilizing co-working spaces. In fact, more and more medium and large businesses have adapted co-working concepts as strategic advantages. First and foremost, workplace flexibility can help businesses to not only attract, but also retain talents. Studies have shown that work flexibility also increases employee engagement and satisfaction, which has shown to positively affect businesses.
Other than that, a typical business loses a high number of productivity annually due to absenteeism and presenteeism. However, Credit Suisse found that flexible work could reduce this by 30%. With less absenteeism, employee productivity is also increased.
From a real estate perspective, adapting to a co-working concept is a great move for businesses to reduce cost. Unlike traditional, serviced offices which collect lease fees, co-working services mostly operate on a membership model, which is a lot more affordable. There is also the flexibility to collaborate with other entrepreneurs, opening doors to further innovation.
The Future of Co-working
In conclusion, the co-working trend is set to stay, if not grow even further. While it may not completely eradicate the existence of traditional offices, there is no doubt that it’s shifting conventional working styles and habits.
It may not be ideal for every business; it is only through a deeper understanding of your own organisation, priorities and working preferences, that you can decide whether this change is worth embracing.