Undeniably, flexible workspace operator WeWork is among the most successful operators in the coworking space market, becoming one of the most valuable startups in the world. However, the U.S. based coworking provider shares the market with strong-performing domestic flexible workspace operators in the Asia Pacific region. Major names include Ucommune, CoHive, and JustCo. While larger international operators try to stay competitive through mergers and acquisitions with coworking space providers in the region, domestic independent companies intend to increase their market share by teaming up with one another.
A vital factor that attracts many businesses to operate in coworking spaces are the economical prices. Flexible offices are known for their famously lower rental prices compared to conventional offices. Cities across Asia Pacific, such as Tokyo, Hong Kong, and Singapore, who are famed for their astronomically high real estate markets have accommodated and provided space for flexible office centers. Flexible workspaces have also benefitted startup businesses greatly. Naturally, the uncertain nature of startups means that startup businesses are less enthusiastic to commit to long-term rental contracts for traditional office spaces. Thus, coworking spaces have adapted to the needs of startups and offer efficient workspaces without the pressure of a long-term, contractual agreement.
The emerging trend of digital nomads has also created the need for more flexible workspaces, as people all over the world are choosing to travel while working remotely. Asia Pacific, most notably, has always been a popular destination for digital nomads. While freelancers previously accounted for a bigger share of flexible workspace users, gradually, employers and employees have started to join this movement of working in shared office spaces. Figures have indicated that over half of the co-working tenants in Vietnam were start-up founders and entrepreneurs, while a lesser share were freelancers. Overall, flexible workspaces have gained popularity among corporations for a variety of factors. The main reasons given for choosing co-working spaces were the social and enjoyable atmosphere, as well as better interaction with others.
The success of coworking spaces has, however, been interrupted by the unexpected outbreak of the coronavirus, which spread throughout the Asia Pacific region. The introduction of lockdown measures at the beginning of 2020, has seen citizens confined to their homes. The implementation of home office has impacted the flexible office industry greatly, as many of these communal workspaces have been left abandoned. Despite the adverse effects the outbreak of COVID-19 has had on the coworking industry, it is probable that the market will recover once normality is reinstated and citizens are working in offices once more.