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Coworking Spaces

The State of Coworking Spaces in Asia

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Once upon a time, it was mostly freelancers who used and founded coworking spaces. These days, the share of freelancers is declining and more employers and employees are taking their places. How these two worlds of coworking spaces differ from one another and how they are blending together can be seen in Asia. The situation there offers a glimpse into the beginnings of the coworking movement as well as the future of corporate coworking. This is where the largest coworking spaces in the world are created, with a high share of private offices for companies. And this is also where you can find the smallest spaces that don’t even offer a meeting space. Today we will take you on a quick tour through the Asian results of the Global Coworking Survey.

On average, Asian coworking spaces have 73 members. However, this number isn’t really describing the entire reality because we filter the smallest and largest extreme outliers out of the results when calculating the average*. And these outliers are more extreme in Asia than in other parts of the world.

You will find state-of-the-art coworking spaces on 8 stories, as well as tiny backyard one-person apartments where eight members are now sitting at desks. Roughly half of all coworking spaces in Asia have less than 50 members. Their share has gone down significantly since last year, but the share of especially small coworking spaces with less than twenty members remains exceptionally high.

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The independent analysis of the 2018 Global Coworking Survey was supported by WUN SystemsNexudus Essensys. The results were presented at CUASIA2018. Download the free report.

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Surprisingly, the market share of large coworking spaces with 150 or more members hasn’t increased (16%). However, within this group, significantly more members are working in every space than one year ago – and they raise the average of all coworking spaces by a wide margin. If we factor in these extreme values, then the average coworking space in Asia has 205 members, more than on any other continent.

Overall, Asian coworking spaces assume that their competitors are working more economically than one year ago, 39% of them think they are profitable. Compared to the global average, their own estimated profitability is significantly higher, one out of two coworking spaces stated that they operate at a profit. However, more operators depend on their profits from the coworking space as their sole source of income. The share of coworking spaces as a side business is lower.

The average margin rate of profitable coworking spaces in Asia is currently around 9%, which is lower than the global average of 12%. However, they are one year younger on average and have started their operations 23 months ago – the global average age is 34 months. Likewise, they need more time to reach the break-even point (17 instead of 13 months)*.

They make up for this with their opening rates. Nowhere else is the planning, construction and opening of coworking spaces done faster than in Asia (4.2 instead of 7.2 months). Almost a quarter of all coworking spaces owns their location. Only around 60% are renting their spaces, globally this number is around 70%. Likewise, management contracts or joint ventures are more popular than in the rest of the world.

For this reason, their average rent payments are proportionally lower. The largest cost blocks, the operational costs and the costs for employees, are consequently above the global average – in relation to all other costs.

The most important difference of Asian coworking spaces are their target groups: Only two third of all spaces has a strong focus on individual users, the initial nucleus of coworking spaces. Roughly the same share focuses mainly on companies with fewer than 10 employees. They are placing an above-average focus on companies with 10 or more employees.

This results in a higher share of private offices in coworking spaces. They are also using noticeable amounts of space for event spaces, which has the appropriate results on their revenue.

The pure renting of desks, outside of private offices, only generates roughly a quarter of their profits. If you add combined memberships, which include for instance the use of meeting spaces, then you are still below one third. With 34%, the share of open workspaces in Asia is also lower than anywhere else.

These and other results were published in February in CUASIA 2018, which is available for download as usual.

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The 2018 Global Coworking Survey is officially supported by the following organizations:

Main Supporters: 
Essensys - A management tool for coworking spaces
Nexudus Spaces - A management tool for coworking spaces
WUN Systems - A management tool for coworking spaces

Distribution partners: 
Coworker.com - A platform to find and book coworking spaces
Social Workplaces - An event organizer and consulting agency for coworking spaces
AgoraRDM - A consulting agency for coworking spaces

Official Supporters: 
GCUC Austin, Coworking Croatia Zagreb,
Mutinerie Paris, Kaptár Budapest,
OfficeHub Sydney, ImpactHub Taipei, 
NexCore St. Louis, Plexpod Kansas City, 
Coworking Out Loud San Francisco,
Talent Garden Milan, KinSpaces NYC,
Blocktime Coworking São Paulo
Deskpass Chicago, Hive Vancouver,
CUASIA Ubud, Cowork Lisboa Lisbon, 
Shhared Hamburg, Open Milano Milan, 
Seats2Meet Amsterdam, CAAP Ubud,
El Moli Lab València, AreaWorks London, 
FutureWard Taipei, Sundesk Valbonne, 
GCUC Taiwan Taipei, Habu Bristol,
Senda15 Coworking Vitoria-Gasteiz, 
German Coworking Federation Berlin, 
Homestead Edmonton.

The 2018 Global Coworking Survey was running online from November 8, 2017 to January 30, 2018. 1980 people took part. More about the background.

*Unless stated otherwise, we express average values of unrestricted or open scales in 5% trimmed mean. This means that the lowest and highest 5% of all values are not taken into account. The result is that we can filter the extreme outliers from the average. However, all average values (mean, 5% trimmed mean and median) are always contained in the graphics of the results.

Update: In an earlier version we wrote "only a third of all spaces has a strong focus on individual users", but it's two third of all coworking spaces - as it also can been seen in the charts. It doesn't change the message behind the sentence. The percentage is still significantly lower than in other parts of the world. In other words: a third of Asian coworking spaces is not interested in hosting individual users.

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