PROVIDING THE right environment for staffs from various companies to work and interact with each others in a shared premises is the objective of a co-working space, said David Danille Poh, 40, the owner of interior design firm Harvest Le Design Pte Ltd, a member of JustCo co-working space at Marina Square in Singapore, during an interview with The Nation.
“We have a team of eight working at JustCo, doing design work and meeting our clients in a setup that is easy to manage, convenient and economical, he said.
Nicholas Holmes,34, the owner of journalist application provider Clippings.me Pte Ltd and a member of JustCo, said he opted for a co-working space instead of an office because of the lower rental fee.
“JustCo provides quality services. It is a new business model with easy access to our partners,” said Holmes, a UK national working in Singapore.
He moved his company from another co-working office to Marina One, to be close to his home in the country.
Kong Wan Sing, chief executive officer of JustGroup Holding Pte Ltd, the operator of JustCo in Singapore, China, Indonesia and Thailand, said he foresaw the rise of co-working spaces a few years back when entrepreneurs began making changes to their work style.
They needed a place they could share and collaborate with their business partners amid the emergence of startups and the digital economy.
A co-working office is where entrepreneurs, startups, small and medium companies can gain from each others.
Currently, JustGroup manages eight co-working centres in Singapore; two in Bangkok, three in Jakarta and two in Shanghai. The company also operates five serviced offices in Singapore and will inaugurate a third co-working site in Bangkok at Samyan Mitr Town, next year.
It provides a combined space of 70,000 square metres, with an average occupancy rate of over 70 per cent.
The company plans to invest more than US$100 million (Bt3.2 billion) in another 100 locations in 13 Asian markets by 2020, Wan Sing said.
Aside from Thailand, new centres are earmarked for India, Vietnam, Taiwan, Japan, South Korea, the Philippines, Hong Kong, mainland China, Australia, Singapore, Indonesia, and Malaysia.
As many as 40 centres will be launched in China, occupying more than 4,000 square metres each.
The company has set a target of 250,000 square metres in the 13 Asian countries and territories by 2020, he said.
Co-working spaces have grown to account for about 5 per cent of the total office market in Singapore, rising from just 1 per cent two years ago. The segment is enjoying growth of up to 9 per cent a year, he said.
In Bangkok, co-working spaces currently make up about 1 per cent of the office market of approximately 8 million square metres. Wan Sing predicted the share of co-working spaces in the Thai capital would reach 5 per cent in 2020.
At present, the company manages 9,200 square metres of co-working space in Bangkok at AIA Sathorn Tower and Capital Tower. With the opening of its new premises at Samyan Mitr Town next year, that will increase to 17,200 square metres before reaching 30,000 in 2020, he said.
An occupancy rate of 60 per cent is needed for a new working space in order to recoup the investment within four years, he said, adding that the uptrend in demand presents an good investment opportunity for the company.
Noelle Coak, Regus’s country head for Thailand, Taiwan and Korea, said recently that co-working spaces have emerged as the definitive environment for startups, entrepreneurs and those who think outside of the box, to not only work but to bring people together and build a real community.
“Most startup employees and entrepreneurs are millennials, accustomed to being connected all of the time,” she said, “so it’s no surprise that they are increasingly looking for more inspiring options when working, such as business lounges, co-working spaces, short-term offices or drop-in centres.
“Worker demand is changing, and it’s up to Thai businesses to evolve with their changing workforce.”
Regus is opening a new venue at the Chiang Mai Icon Park Hotel on Maneenopparat Road in June and will start up another premises in Bangkok at the Singha Complex in August. The Regus business centre opened its doors at Bitec’s Bhiraj Tower early this year.
According to a research by Angel Real Estate Consultancy Administrator, ‘Co-working space’ was set up in San Francisco in 2015 and since then it has gathered monentum. According to the World
Economic Forum, freelancers now account for 35 per cent of the total workforce in the United States, 16 per cent in Europe and is accelerating in Asia.
Globally, co-working spaces have been growing rapidly, surging from just 75 spaces in 2007 to more than 7,800 in 2015, according to a CBRE report.
According to Colliers, the first co-working office in Thailand emerged in 2012, pioneered by local operator Hubba in the Ekamai area.
The number of co-working space projects nationwide rose from four in 2012 to 12, 20, 60, 120 and 132 from 2013-2017 and projected to reach 150 by end of the year.
There will soon be 25,000 square metres of new space from 10 projects in Bangkok this year, boosting the total to 125,000, he said. However, that would only account for a mere 1-2 per cent of the total office supply, estimated at 8.8 million square metres.