Co-working spaces, a growing real estate trend… also in Beijing

Beautiful-White-Library-Type-Working-Space

 

Shared offices, rental of office space by the hour and co-working… this is what’s new in office real estate and this is all about office sharing. The co-working trend is spreading quickly in major cities everywhere in the world, including Beijing. China’s State Council in January 2015 has introduced a new policy aboutCo-working Space” to promote mass entrepreneurship and encourage investment in co-working spaces and industrial real estate in Beijing.

Nowadays, people can stay connected everywhere at any time, using their smartphones, tablets, wi-fi… we have seen in the past years more and more people working from home or from Starbucks: in fact, you don’t need any more to reach the office to have access to all the information you need to complete your job. However, if working from any place can be fun for a while, people also need to interact with their colleagues, as well as to feel in a working environment.

Besides, the working place is changing and in the future, we will most likely not be working on the 9-5 schedule in a traditional office set up as we know for decades: according to MBO Partners, an estimated 2.4 billion people will be considered “independent” workers by 2018: co-working spaces are an answer to unconventional office spaces (where you are mostly on your own and may be lacking of stimulation). Co-working is also a solution for startups, who can’t afford renting a whole office but still need a qualitative working environment. 

Co-working space can be defined as a place where people pay a fee to work together or next to like-minded independents. This is a new way of thinking about work. However, so far, it mostly applies to e-activities (tech and digital, communications and media, and creative sector mainly).

 

Co-working spaces – disadvantages:

  • imagesNot as quiet as private offices.
  • Lack of confidentiality / privacy.
  • Lack of storage for personal files, computers and any kind of materials you would need or produce due to your business activity.
  • Lack of data security:  at some points, you will need to store data; you can’t consider trusting your laptop or even an external hard disk and the solution may be cloud storage. However, you may need to access your cloud space using Wi-Fi: wireless internet being the first place hackers target when trying to enter your data. 
  • For some industries, co-working spaces may not (yet) be the place to welcome an existing or potential customer.
  • Cost. Monthly fees can be high … you need to compare with conventional offices before making your decision! 
  • Business registration: this disadvantage is specific to China, where you can only register a limited number of companies in a given space. Some co-working spaces will not offer you to physically register your company, which is a basic requirement to operate business in China. 

 

Co-working spaces – advantages: 

  • Conceptual Rendering of 2nd Floor Coworking SpaceAffordable for most of start ups, compared to renting a fully equipped office (desks, whiteboards, WiFi Internet, photocopiers and other office equipment… that most companies can’t afford with their initial capital or would be quickly out of date – either because of depreciation or because the team extending too fast).
  • Flexibility in use and therefore, flexibility in cost: Most co-working offices offer usage related pricing. Flexibility also in time: if most startups can’t commit to traditional lease terms, they don’t need to define a term for using co-working spaces.
  • Office feeling: when staying in a co-working space, the environment looks like any other office.
  • Networking opportunity, positive atmosphere for meeting with relevant people (potential partners, future collaborators, technical experts from the same field) and eventually business expert consultants.
  • Increase self-confidence and productivity (through emulation and positive interactions). 
  • Aesthetic (and eventually equipped for air filtration): young business will not be able to afford renovation costs of a new office, while co-working spaces will offer well designed open office spaces.

 

Things to look at when selecting co-working spaces

When selecting your co-working space, you need to 

  • oficio-co-working-spacePrinters, scanners and photocopiers, phones, white-board… up-to-date !
  • Equipment related to your industry (example: 3D printers…)
  • Internet connection (speed, wi-fi or wired…)
  • Conference room 
  • Meeting room
  • Size of the co-working space or number of people sitting in the same room (will influence noise and your ability to concentrate on your tasks)
  • Accessibility: is the co-working space opened 24/24 and 7/7?
  • Own reserved desk or flexible desk: some people may prefer to work on their own desk… 
  • Kitchen and food offering.
  • Cleaning schedule.
  • Location: easy to access from your home? easy to reach for your clients?

 

SCOUT Real Estate recommendations:

When considering co-working office space, take your time and try to understand which inconveniences and advantages will apply to your specific case. You may also need to compare the cost of co-working spaces and corporate office space. Our team will guide you through this process. 

If co-working initially expanded amongst freelance workers for sharing the same workspace, it is now extending to companies who want to offer more flexibility to their employees, besides working from home (almost called corporate co-working). SCOUT is also advising on most relevant co-working spaces for your industry and your business in Beijing. We will also check for you how safe is the location, as we noticed that many co-working spaces have closed operations in the past years in Beijing, as the rental fee increased too much at the term of their contract.

SCOUT Real Estate can also find excellent locations for people who are looking for spaces to settle a co-working space.

 

 

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About Marketing

I am living in China since 2007. I am sharing my experiences for other expatriates to make their stay in Beijing more enjoyable. As I am writing this blog for SCOUT Real Estate agency, I am also computing updates about the Real Estate market in Beijing, not only on residential properties, but as well on commercial locals and offices. Hope you enjoy your reading!