With the post COVID office environment in Asia, companies are no longer confined to traditional office spaces. More and more corporations are moving into workspaces that offer both flexibility and amenities for employees. Large corporations from major technology companies to professional services are catching up with the trend to allow more employees to work from home to increase the social distancing in the office. Past surveys before COVID carried out by Knight Frank, over two-thirds of global corporations intend to increase the use of coworking spaces and other flexible office plans. Additional benefits include reduced occupancy costs, improved productivity, collaboration and agility. 

Reducing occupancy costs

Businesses always try their best to minimize costs, and so do big ones! In major international cities such as New York and Sydney, the average cost of office rent is $575 per square foot. At the same time, you only need to pay a monthly fee of $350-$450 to the coworking company for an entire dedicated desk option. Coworking spaces can also help cover other expenses such as pieces of furniture, office equipment, and office decor.  (See: Co-Working Space Pricing from Top Providers in Singapore)

All too often, real estate ownership comes with headaches. You’re not 100% sure if the property can generate profit. Instead of spending a large sum of money on an apartment or a building, companies can now allocate their funds to other areas such as research & development. Business owners also do not have to worry about repair, maintenance or property taxes. 

Office woman working in an office space post COVID.
Post COVID office spaces – dedicated offices will increasingly become flexible.

Improving productivity  

Employees can easily get demotivated if surrounded by the walls of cubicles 24/7 every single day. According to an office 2019 Global Workspace Survey, 77% of respondents acknowledged the importance of flexible office set-up in keeping their company’s top-performing employees. Hence, office space providers invest significant amounts of energy and money in interior design and decoration. These open workspaces give workers the feeling of visiting a Museum of Modern Arts rather than working inside a conventional office building.

Another benefit of coworking spaces is that you get to know how people from different backgrounds work. Seeing them working hard and coming up with new ideas will somehow motivate you to do the same. On the other hand, many coworking businesses offer recreation services and eco-friendly corners where people can relax after long hours of work. 

Post COVID team meeting ensuring productivity.
Companies will implement their own social distancing policies.

Collaboration and innovation  

If major companies have the intention of approaching the best startups in the field, then a flexible office is no doubt where they can find what they want. According to the Global Coworking Growth Study 2019, startup businesses make up 65.3% of the new coworking spaces that open each year. One of the main reasons why tech giants, such as Microsoft and IBM, are moving their attention to flex office is that they can get closer to talented freelancers and promising startups in a knowledge-sharing environment.

Collaboration will continue post COVID. An office worker using a coworking window with post it notes.
Post COVID office spaces collaboration and innovation.

Convenience and agility

Big companies need more staff than small and medium-sized ones. Their employees come from different areas, and not all of them can travel a long distance to a town or city to work. Therefore, large corporations think about collaborating with coworking businesses and shorter commutes for the employees. Agility means as the business grows fast, flexible spacing allows for immediate employee accommodation vs a dedicated office building which may take months to fit out. Coworking spaces are available 24/7 and accessible without a long-term commitment. You pay monthly rent, move in, and that’s it!

Convenience and agility will be a big thing post COVID. Large companies will look at using coworking spaces as part of their flexible office solutions.
Post COVID office spaces will respect smaller tight spaces.

Future trends

A flexible office is convenient but not the only factor to consider. The final decision also depends on the corporation’s working culture, post-COVID workplace policies and the need to accommodate teams closer to places of innovation or collaboration. They may prefer fewer interactions from the outside world and better control of the employees’ performance. There’s increasing interest in flexible office spaces, not only among freelancers and startups but big firms as well. In 2019, there were 3.1 million co-workers globally, and the number will double by 2022. Another research conducted by WeWork, a coworking business, shows that there was a 90% increase of enterprise companies using its service, including popular brands such as Microsoft, Spotify, Pinterest and HSBC. 

Two office workers collaborating in a flexible office environment.
Regardless, post COVID there will be more coworking desks used.

Chief Executive Officer, OSDORO
Bachelor of Applied Finance and Bachelor of Laws, Sydney, Australia
David has been in commercial and residential real estate since 2002 and has a passion for South East Asian Business, global relations and cross border innovation.

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Anders Lim
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