The trend of co-working spaces has been on the rise, particularly in Singapore, Hong Kong and Taiwan, with entrepreneurs, creatives and start-up businesses engaged in these spaces.
The main benefits of co- working spaces are that they allow start-ups to save capital on rent and share creative ideas. Rex Loi, a Macau- based entrepreneur, recently opened a co-working space in the region and he aims to grow the trend in Macau.
Co-working spaces are generally grouped into three categories, according to their variety of tenants. The early and still popular model targets young freelancers and artists, while the other types mainly cater to startups and multinational companies.
Loi, who is the owner of ItWorks! co-working space in Macau, said he first experienced the trend when he resided in Taiwan and upon returning to Macau he saw the need for such spaces to be available in the region.
“I was originally a freelancer and I met a group of people that have a need for this space. Because some spaces in Macau are too big, they don’t need that much space,” the young founder explained.
The company caters to freelancers and startups in the city and provides users with a set of equipment and a set of services.
With a monthly membership fee of MOP1,500, Loi said ItWorks! currently has five members in addition to their casual users who only acquire a day pass, which costs MOP80.
Speaking to the Times, Loi remarked that rent remains a challenge to new entrepreneurs and startups who do not require a large space. With the use of co-working space, these residents will be able to save a significant amount of capital.
Referencing several regions where co-working spaces are widely used, the entrepreneur is confident that the trend will also increase in Macau.
“It’s just the beginning. Hong Kong has developed this culture for a long time but we just started a year or two ago,” Loi argued.
“There are more and more start-ups in Macau and some technical freelancers only need to use the computer to start their jobs so they should try to rent just rent a [space] and start their work,” the founder recommended.
ItWorks! also offers users access to conference rooms to conduct business activities and events when they have the need.
Meanwhile Matthew Lam, a user of the co-working space, believed that the space is useful for expanding his network.
The 23-year old user noted that he chooses a co- working space rather than working from home, noting a “co-working environment enables me to work more efficiently, it has less distractions” and he continued to say that “ItWorks” is a great place for him to meet people.
For the co-working space owner, he believes that such spaces increase the users’ collaboration by providing them with a place and a community where sharing ideas relating to their projects and businesses will happen naturally.
“The main core value of the working space is people, for example connections. In Taiwan, it’s more prominent,” Loi compared.
The founder added that the culture of co-working space in Macau is not as evident compared to Hong Kong or Taiwan but he predicts it will expand in Macau. Most of its local users are under the age of 40 and are not yet capable of renting a space independently through the real estate market.
“Usually these people are starting their business or careers, and usually the problem they face is the rent. The rent is too high so they are attracted to this place,” Loi said.
In the future, Loi hopes to hold activities so that the users will be able to share their experiences of working in the co-working space with theirs who are considering becoming members.
New work trend in Hong Kong attracts multinational companies
he popularity of co-working spaces has risen significantly in Hong Kong.
A recent report by the South China Morning Post indicated that the users of co-working spaces are diversifying past individuals involved in start-ups and small businesses; the spaces are becoming attractive to multinational companies who are keen on building flexibility in their real estate portfolios.
As cited in the report, Hong Kong based co-work space Campfire Collaborative Spaces offers private and shared office spaces, meeting rooms and chill-out zones.
Occupying a few floors in an industrial building, Campfire aims to create an ‘industry- oriented ecosystems – co-working communities for people in the same field.’
Along with solving the dilemma of the city’s high rents, Campfire also aims to create a network for young entrepreneurs.
“We’re entrepreneurs in multiple industries, and we’ve always found we draw the most inspiration from people in the same fields. We’re creating these spaces with that in mind,” says Albert Fung, one of the company’s co-founders.
The founders of the co-work space also aim to create links among each other and facilitate introductions for suppliers, partners and distributors and clients to assist their co-entrepreneurs to run their businesses.
Co-founder Wang Tse even hinted that such spaces would allow entrepreneurs and startups to focus more on their businesses’ resources rather than worry on spending its capital on rents.
“Our members add value to each other, and co-working enables them to save money so they can pursue a more balanced lifestyle and utilize their resources towards developing their business,” Tse said.
Real estate services firm Colliers indicated that by 2030, 30 percent of all office space will be co-working. These co-founders believe that sharing economies will give developers the chance to better utilize space.