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Embracing the future of workspaces

These days, it’s no longer surprising to see employees of different firms sharing a single workspace rather than cloistered in their own office buildings or units.

This trend of “coworking,” first set up in San Francisco in 2005, arose with the advent of globalization, technological advances and sharing economy, further enhancing worker mobility and flexible work arrangements.

Research data show coworking players worldwide will more than double this year—from 7,800 at the start of 2016 to 16,100 at year-end. Also, an estimated 3.8 million people are expected to work in coworking spaces by 2020, four times the number today at 976,000.

Riding the wave

Many business startups in South East Asia now embrace this trend. U.S. real estate services firm Cushman & Wakefield projects coworking spaces to comprise 15 percent of the region’s total office supply by 2030.

Coworking is gaining popularity in Malaysia, Singapore and Hong Kong, where short-term workplaces gain adherents over traditional offices.

Acceler8, Manila | Manila Bulletin

Acceler8, Manila | Manila Bulletin

In the Philippines, the trend is catching on. “Coworking has barely scratched the surface in the Philippines, but it is growing rapidly,” Mikko Barranda of Acceler8 told FlySpaces, South East Asia’s leading online workspace marketplace and booking engine.

Acceler8 is one of Manila’s most innovative coworking spaces. Barranda foresees coworking to boom with the rise of the millennials, enticed by the promise of work flexibility to match their highly mobile lifestyle.

The diversity of South East Asian landscape has lent local touches to the western concept of coworking. In Singapore, for example, some spaces host daycare facilities for coworking moms and dads. In Manila, there’s a space that offers craft beer after normal working hours, while a space in Kuala Lumpur features bean bags.

Tearing down walls

The openness provided by coworking also breaks down hierarchical barriers among company managers and employees, and even attracts freelancers.

This fosters collaboration and inputs even from people with different backgrounds and industries—qualities that entrepreneurs, small and medium enterprises, and even multinationals value.

Among those who resort to coworking spaces, Deskmag reported that 71 percent feel more creative and 62 percent see improvement in the quality of their work.

PenBrothers, Manila | Manila Bulletin

PenBrothers, Manila | Manila Bulletin

The benefits extend beyond workers’ satisfaction. FlySpaces notes that while businesses in South East Asia pay higher rent for coworking spaces, they can otherwise save 18–26-percent by forgoing costs on workplace design, occupancy and upkeep.

Real estate companies like Singapore’s CapitaLand and the Philippines’ Ayala Land take notice, reconfiguring their business models and adding coworking spaces in their portfolios.

Coworking adherents can also maximize the space they rent and the office amenities provided, including high-speed internet access.

With millennials the driving force behind coworking’s steady success, there is also a noticeable shift in career aspirations—from climbing the corporate ladder to treading the entrepreneurial path.

“This entrepreneurial mindset embraces the ideals of coworking because of the savings, flexibility and community,” said Gabrielle Pratte, manager of PenBrothers, one of Manila’s biggest coworking spaces.

Lars Wittig, Philippine manager of Regus, said championing the adoption of flexible workspaces—coworking spaces and hot desks—in its more than 3,000 locations worldwide puts the company in a strategic position in an evolving market. For Wittig, these trends are “the future of workspaces.”

Regus, Manila | Manila Bulletin

Regus, Manila | Manila Bulletin

To learn more about flexible workspaces, visit www.flyspaces.com