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The new normal: theDesk’s quick guide to the who, how, when and why of co-working

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Are you new to co-working? Or are you thinking about using a workspace like theDesk? We bet you have many questions about who chooses co-working, why they want it and how they like to work.

To answer your questions, we checked the latest global data on co-working spaces. We proudly present you theDesk’s quick guide to the who, how, when and why of co-working.

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What’s the alternative?

If it’s not co-working, what are the main options? The likelihood is, working from home is your chief alternative. In fact, around 45% of new co-working members worked from a home office.

If not, then you are likely one of the quarter of people who choose a traditional office as an alternative.

And you’re wrong if you think the coffee shop is bursting with entrepreneurs. Only around 6% of people think of them as viable places for serious work.

Rules of attraction

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Co-working offers people far more than a place to work. It fosters meaningful connections between people.

Working from home can be isolating. It requires active self-discipline to keep a healthy work/life balance. People choose co-working spaces such as theDesk because of the social atmosphere (59%). For 56%, it’s about getting the range of interactions they need to do great work.

For 55% of people, the main benefit is the community. In a recent article, the newsDesk explored different forms of community. We focussed mainly on the concept of ‘inclusive community’.

Read more: Expert Advice: Colman Ho – Lessons from a serial entrepreneur

An inclusive community focuses on creating valuable and mutually beneficial relationships between members and the neighbourhood.

The clinchers

What other factors do people look for in their ideal workspace? More than anything, increasing numbers say proximity to home is significant (51%).

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It’s not all collaboration and interaction. People give high priority to proximity to home.

It’s not all collaboration and interaction. People give high priority to proximity to home.Following that, 41% of people prioritised value for money and convenient transport connections. Fewer people – 38% – pay attention to necessary office infrastructure. These days, we expect all workspaces to have good wifi and connectivity.

Working hours

Many things have evolved in the world of work. But one thing that hasn’t is the working hours.

Co-working members tend to work traditional office hours. Over 50s, singles and parents tend to work longer and more irregular hours.

The average co-worker’s day is around nine hours, just like working in a traditional office.

Depending on the plan, theDesk is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, throughout the year. Flexibility is a crucial factor for our members who may have clients in other time zones, need to work on to an urgent deadline, or need the flexibility to fit in with their broader schedule.


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Co-workers often combine working from home with going to a workspace.

Not all members work every day in co-working spaces. Data shows that 40% of people go at least five times a week, and 30% go three or four times a week.

Currently, a majority of people combine working from home with going to a workspace. However, the trend is towards workspaces, like theDesk, being the main workplace.

Who are co-workers?

In a recent newsDesk article, we busted the myth that co-working is about millennials. In fact, the average age is 36. And ages are increasing depending on the sector. For example, employers with staff have an average age of 40. Freelancers are 38 years old, on average.

Globally, 44% of co-workers are women. But more and more women are choosing flexible workspaces. This is a trend we see at theDesk

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Co-workers are typically a well-educated bunch. 85% completed some form of academic education.

The survey also highlights the high level of education among co-working members. 41% of people hold a bachelor’s degree, and 41% a master’s. 4% have already received their doctorate.

Globally, around 44% of members are women. But among sectors, we see the share of women increase to 46% of freelancers and as the majority of company employees. Reflecting inequalities in the workplace, women make up only 24% of employers with staff in co-working spaces.

Women in Business: Championing women’s success with Kristina Pavchenko

Who pays?

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theDesk’s flexible plans and pricing are attractive for people starting or growing their business.

According to the 2017 global survey, 60% of members pay their fees. Only 1 in 4 people say their employer or client pays for their workspace.

Interestingly, 6% of people arrange alternative forms of payment. For example, they may provide services or offer their time and work. Also, 4% of people or companies are allowed to work for free.

Popular memberships

It’s hard to be specific about membership types. At theDesk’s space in One Hysan Avenue, for example, the neighbourhood characteristics mean the majority of space is given to private offices. The Sai Ying Pun workspace combines dedicated desks and hot desks with spacious and well-lit private offices. Many have space for up to 12 people or more.

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Whatever your work, co-working offers a wide range of tailored and flexible solutions.

From the survey, monthly subscriptions are the most popular membership type (83%). 6% of members take hourly, daily and weekly subscriptions. Passes, for example offering ten visits in a month, are popular with around 10% of co-workers.

Working together or alone?

The best co-working spaces understand that the main objective for members is to get work done. Not to lounge on sofas or play ping pong in fancy surroundings. It’s no surprise that 1 in 2 people work alone.

Read more: Bubble or business? Co-working spaces in Hong Kong

But there is an increase in the number of teams using flexible workspaces. This is something we notice at theDesk, where established businesses taking private offices are becoming the norm.

One key reason people choose co-working spaces is that working from home or in a coffee shop does not provide them with the calm environment or social atmosphere of being in a shared workspace. The survey backs this up with around two-thirds of co-workers preferring to work in teams.

Desks and offices

Some spaces dedicate themselves to hot desking. But we know that fewer people are hot desking or using dedicated desks in open work areas. And the trend is more towards a dedicated place to work, with 60% of people preferring to have their own desk.

Globally, private offices are becoming more popular. But 74% of people still work in open areas. And over half continue to work at flexible desk areas.

Read more: How to create the best co-working and events space in Hong Kong

The design of a workspace is essential to allow people to work undisturbed, interact with others when they wish to, and accommodate the needs of all members.

Your dream workplace – theDesk in Causeway Bay and Sai Ying Pun

We have the space. You have the ideas. Together, let’s make it happen together

Contact today. Discover how our inclusive community, flexible plans and pricing can help start and grow your business.

Check the sources

Much of the data in this report is taken from the independent analysis of the 2017 Global Coworking Survey, performed with Social Workplaces & was supported by Nexudus, Essensys & Communitas.

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