Mon Jan 09 2023
Both coworking places and shared workspaces have risen in popularity here in Hong Kong as an alternative to the traditional office space. But, as someone looking for an alternative workspace for yourself, a team, or your company, understanding which best suits your needs can be tricky. Small differences can make a world of difference when this is a place you are likely to spend a good portion of your week in.
There are undeniably pros and cons for both shared workspaces and coworking offices. But first, to truly understand how these differences might affect your decision, let's take a step back and understand what each of these options is.
A shared workspace is effectively the office equivalent to a serviced apartment. This means you will be able to move into a pre-designed and already set up office space. You’ll find many of the tools and equipment that businesses need, like high-volume printers and copiers, private kitchens, and more.
A coworking space or office takes a comparatively more flexible approach. Unlike shared workspaces, which often accommodate teams of varying sizes, coworking spaces are usually filled with freelancers, creatives, and other business people working on personal projects. Because of this, they are known for more casual, sociable, and relaxed environments with plenty of networking opportunities. Please note that this is not always the case, and many small-scale businesses choose to work within a coworking space for their range of benefits.
When compared to a traditional office space, both coworking spaces and shared workspaces come with an array of extra services. Many coworking places will come with amenities like coffee and food bars, meeting rooms, photo studios, relaxation areas, and of course front of house staff. Comparatively, shared office spaces might have receptionists, office equipment, and more professional-looking interior for hosting clients, investors, and so on.
Both a coworking space and a shared workspace offer more in the likes of socialisation, collaboration, and networking when compared to a traditional workspace. However, while a shared workspace might only offer the chance to work near a few individuals and businesses, a coworking space is where communities really thrive. Well-established coworking spaces will employ a community manager that is in charge of, among other things, organising social events for members, helping connect like-minded members, and building a collaborative environment. Because of this, coworking spaces are widely considered the better of the two options if one of your goals is to network and find people within your niche to work with.
The interior design and overall atmosphere of these workspaces is another thing with slight differences. While all coworking and shared office spaces are different, many having unique designs as key selling points, there are some trends. In general, coworking spaces have open-plan seating arrangements with plenty of solo desks for hotdesking. This is done to accommodate freelancers and solo workers. Additionally, coworking spaces usually have more trendy, casual, and warm interiors. This can add to what many refer to as a more bustling and sociable environment, as mentioned above, but can also hinder productivity for some people. In contrast, shared workspaces typically have more team-oriented seating plans that are more catered for teams and businesses to work in. This often offers a more private place to work and is more conducive to larger teams.
If flexibility is important for you, we would recommend heading to coworking offices. This is often considered one of the main allures of coworking spaces, and many pride themselves on being able to accommodate individuals from all walks of life. Many spaces have short leases, which means you can easily move around without committing to a single place. Furthermore, hotdesk arrangements mean you can have a change of scene on a daily basis or, if your coworking space runs several locations, have the freedom to move around different neighbourhoods in your city at your convenience. Shared workspaces may still offer some more flexibility in comparison to a traditionally rented office space.
With all the above in mind, the clientele of coworking spaces and shared workspaces unsurprisingly differs. In general, coworking spaces are filled with more freelancers, startups, small teams, solo business people, and even some hobbyists who need a workspace. If you fit this description, you might find coworking spaces the perfect place to mingle in with like-minded people and potentially find new contacts or business partners. On the other hand, shared workspaces target more businesses than individuals. Anything from small to large teams might enjoy the benefits of a shared workspace.
If you work alone or in a small team, need a flexible work environment and enjoy being part of a community, we would recommend heading towards a coworking space. On the other hand, if you are looking for a space for you and your team to grow as a business, a shared workspace might work better. But remember - ultimately, the right choice for you depends on your individual needs, preferences, and current situation, along with the location you feel best suits your business, whether that be in the heart of Kowloon or the epicentre of Hong Kong Island.