Chances are if you ask a business owner if he/she has heard of co-working spaces, he/she is more likely to answer with a NO than a YES.
Co-Working spaces are not new. In fact, they used to be called by another name not so long ago – business centers!
However, co-working spaces have evolved from the business centers of the 1990s and the early 2000s.
Where business centers were focused on providing time-based tools to connecting to the internet like timeshare computers, co-working spaces are focused on building communities and making it convenient for businesses to grow.
Although similar, co-working spaces are slightly different from serviced office spaces championed by Regus, the serviced office and virtual office provider.
The major difference is that whilst Regus rents out space based on square footage ( or meters), co-working spaces sell access to their communities.
Globally, WeWork is regarded as the leader in co-working spaces. WeWork is a concept in which startups get plug and play offices without getting into the hassle of renting office spaces, remodeling the office, paying long-term leases (in some countries, you need to pay rent for 2-3 years in advance) and you get to save money due to shared resources like an open space, the internet, electricity etc.
WeWork’s business model, which combines real estate with technology, plays into the “sharing economy” trend that has captivated investors in recent years, thanks to hit companies like Uber and Airbnb.
Both companies infused established industries (car services and vacation rentals) with a high-tech touch, and as a result, both companies have garnered valuations far beyond their established predecessors (taxi and limo services and hotels).
And so it goes with WeWork.
Today, it is estimated WeWork is worth about $17 billion.
NEW KID ON THE BLOCK
Similar to WeWork’s phenomenal growth in the US, something is brewing in Asia.
The new kid on the block is just 14 months old but is dominating the co-working space in Asia. This new-born is called NakedHub.
NakedHub currently has 8 locations in Shanghai which it opened within 10 months with plans to open 24 locations in other cities in China as well as other parts of Asia Pacific in 2017.
The first time I entered into a NakedHub location, the design felt rustic, African and beautifully crafted.
They have been able to successfully replicate this design in all the NakedHub locations and it stands out.
It is little wonder that they have won several design awards including best-designed co-working space. In a city with several WeWork locations, winning a design award is a major feat.
CO-WORKING SPACES & THE EFFECT ON THE LOCAL ECONOMY
Small & Medium Enterprises (SMEs) typically hire the bulk of workers in most economies.
SMEs are the engine room of any economy and by allowing these SMEs to collaborate, save money, and grow, co-working spaces are a contributing to the growth of economies.
It is possible that at a point in future, the strength of a country’s economy may be measured by the quality of the companies in its co-working spaces?
Who knows what will happen next? What we do know is that for now, it’s a safe bet that co-working spaces will thrive.
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