(Written by Conrad Ko & Justin Castro)
So you wake up at 6AM, the greatest idea ever comes to your mind. You start thinking about it; day in, day out it’s the only thing you think about. You come home at 6PM, and the only thing that greets you is your family asking you to do chores or favors. But of course you’ll do it, you’re 27 years old and you’re still living with your family. You finally finish everything at 10PM and finally have the time to start working on your own project. Only problem is you’re being bothered. Still. Continuously. Without end. So you decide to move out, find your own flat for privacy. But you can’t because it’s so expensive. So you put your dreams on hold until you grow old to be around 50 when you can finally afford it only to realize that someone else had done it. All because you put your little dream on hold. But it doesn’t have to be like that. Let me introduce you to the most brilliant and most glorious idea of our modern working lives: coworking.
What is Coworking Space?
Coworking, not co-working as some people would spell it, is a booming idea in today’s technologically driven world. The premise is simple: one rents a table or space away from his or her home to do his or her work there. It sounds simple, but there’s a whole lot more to that (but really, it’s simple. Just keep on reading).
Why not a coffee Shop? Why don’t I work at home?
You might notice that if you are a regular to a coffee café, certain people almost always occupy the same seats, hunched over their laptop, their coffee already hours old and still just half drunk. These people are usually freelancers or startup entrepreneurs. They tend to congregate towards these cafes because of the availability of internet and an ambiance that helps them work. There are a variety of reasons as to why this is. Some people cannot concentrate on doing any sort of work at home as they do not want those two spaces (work and rest) to mix with one another. Some people might like working alone, and with the rising cost of real estate in Hong Kong, young professionals just starting out their career would find it hard and expensive to buy or rent their own living space. This is where coworking spaces kick in.
The Origins of Coworking Space
Coworking spaces began in the United States. Back in the mid-2000s, when the social media/smartphone/new internet scene hadn’t taken off yet, the primary users of these coworking spaces were professionals like accountants who needed office space to conduct their professional service but weren’t necessarily employed to a company. Coworking spaces offered these without the huge capital required to set up one’s own office. It was a win-win; coworking spaces would have a steady amount of clients who wish to use their facilities while workers were able to conduct their profession without spending too much on space.
But as the Internet 3.0 exploded, these spaces suddenly became more in demand. From a mere 75 spaces in 2007, there are now near 2000 of them in 2012. In a span of five years, it expanded over 2500% as more and more professionals seek their own private-yet-not-personal space. And so these spaces evolved as well. From very traditional offices with cubicles, they became hip and colorful spaces, with bright and colorful décor to match their elegant furniture. These spaces became more reminiscent of the Google campus then the typical work space office.
These crowd working spaces then started catering more towards this crowd. High speed internet was almost always a must. Snack bars, light recreation and lounges became more commonplace. Social events that allowed fellow coworkers to mingle with each other were now held weekly.
As to why they exploded, it’s primarily because of the very human need to socialize. Because of the internet, a lot of technology based startups can work almost anywhere, provided they have a laptop and stable enough internet connection. This allowed anyone with a great enough of an idea and the skills and dedication to back it up to create their vision. But as most creatives would understand, it is also necessary to get feedback and criticism. These coworking spaces became the avenue of that. At any given time, there are a large variety of projects happening inside these coworking spaces, with the people inside of the freely trading ideas with one another. At the same time, they get to socialize and meet new people that they might potentially work with in the future. These coworking spaces have then replaced the traditional office.
What are the benefits of Coworking Space?
Coworking spaces are highly ideal for individuals or very small startups. Traditional companies that are large and have a more vertical organizational structure will find it hard to adapt to coworking.
Coworking Spaces in Hong Kong
Coworking spaces in Hong Kong are quite common nowadays. Almost all of them offer the same base amenities mainly high speed internet connection, large and open workspaces for individuals and a lounge for socializing, usually at around 1500 to 2500 HKD. Individual rooms for groups, 24/7 access, conference rooms, photography studios are available for extra. Do note however that most of these spaces require an application, some spaces might already be filled up and full while some spaces tend to look for certain applicants. The Good Lab, for example, is dedicated to those who are more socially oriented and one might not get his application approved if his idea is more of a commercial venture.
List of Coworking Space in Hong Kong
Geographically, the spaces are spread out all over the city. Sheung wan, Kowloon, Sai Kung and Tin Hau are home to the well-known coworking spaces.
- A good list of them could be found at http://www.littlestepsasia.com/hong-kong/articles/play/top-10-co-working-spaces.
- The coworking wiki at http://wiki.coworking.org/w/page/16583530/CoworkingHongKong also has a good directory that is updated by those who advocate coworking.
- There is also a Facebook group at https://www.facebook.com/groups/565714903561747/ if you’d like to chat with some of the people who use coworking spaces on a regular basis.