Small businesses behind rise of coworking space
COWORKING spaces are on the rise in Metro Manila, with the growing number of professionals and small businesses prompting developers to offer more flexible office spaces.
In a quarterly briefing on Thursday in Makati, real estate service and workplace solutions advisor Santos Knight Frank said the concept of coworking spaces is becoming an alternative to traditional offices, with the first such development, called Co Lab, launched in the Philippines in 2011.
“The way coworking spaces work is a lot like a serviced office. So you have a provider, a landlord who leases office space in a building, and then they have members or tenants who come off and buy the seat, and then use the facility,” Santos Knight Frank Director for Tenant Representation and Office Agency Morgan McGilvray said during the briefing.
Mr. McGilvray noted that the flexibility that comes with coworking spaces is valued by small companies, as it eventually helps them save money for space they don’t need. Amenities typically include Wi-Fi, reception, and coffee for all-inclusive rates.
“We’re seeing a lot of offices where the smallest office is 300 to 500 square meters, which is fine for BPOs ( business process outsourcing). But if you’re a small company you don’t need that much space. With the coworking space you just lease by the seat so you’re not paying for the space you’re not using, and that helps your bottom line,” Mr. McGilvray said.
There are around 11,000 coworking spaces globally, according to Santos Knight Frank, growing at an average annual rate of 22%. An additional 2,500 are expected to be added to this number by the end of 2017, occupied by an estimated 1.2 million people.
In the Philippines, the firm counts at least 30 coworking spaces in Metro Manila, with 14 located in Makati, eight in Bonifacio Global City, and three in Ortigas. Firms offering this type of office include Acceler8, vOffice, and ASpace Manila. Average rates for coworking spaces in Makati range from P400 to P1,200 per day.
Ayala Land, Inc. has also caught up with the trend, after the recent launch of Clock In by Ayala Land Offices in Makati City. The 400-square meter office can accommodate 107 people who share work space, a meeting room, 15 private offices, a breakout area, and a pantry.
The listed firm targets startup ventures, small to medium enterprises, groups working on a per-project basis, online professionals, and freelancers, among others, to occupy the development.
“We believe the coworking space trend will grow further, thus creating a relative impact to the office sales in the future. Millennials would also be a valuable aspect in the expansion of this concept as 35% of the 2015 Philippine population are composed of people aged 15 to 34. Millennials will soon be dictating the office market, its concepts and the growth of new businesses,” Santos Knight Frank Chief Executive Officer Rick Santos said in a statement.
Overall, the property firm is remaining upbeat on the prospects of the Philippine real estate sector due to the continued economic expansion. Santos Knight Frank noted that the country remains the most attractive investment destination in Asia for information technology (IT)-BPO companies.
“(IT-BPO) companies are eager to capitalize on the country’s favorable demographics, strong dollar, competitive labor cost and continuous infrastructure development,” Mr. Santos said.
Asked about the effects of the declaration of martial law to the property sector, Mr. Santos said such events are temporary, and will not affect the long term prospects of the industry. “It’s business as usual,” he added.