Co-working Spaces Promote Creativity and Innovation
Today, there’s a high premium placed on creativity and innovation, and co-working spaces are proving to be the best enabling environment for these skills to flourish.
Co-working spaces are fostering ingenuity for an increasingly flexible intellectual labour force. As a feature published by the Harvard Business Review argues, co-working spaces are reminiscent of the Renaissance “bottega” of 15th-century Florence. These Florentine workshops were spaces where artists, engineers, and scientists met for inspiration and knowledge-sharing.
This Bottega Renaissance of sorts is best exemplified by the rise of flexible workspaces in Asia, which hinges on the burgeoning startup and freelance market. In fact, SCMP reports that the market for co-working spaces in the region has outpaced its global counterparts. Many of the 8,600 centres found across Asia-Pacific are targeted towards flexible office arrangements.
SPACE FOR CREATIVES
One key factor in the swell of flexible workspaces in the region is the growth of the creative industry and its demand for venues that cater to their needs. This has also meant that co-working spaces had to offer more than just available desks and tables.
CNN Travel reports how flexible spaces in Hong Kong now offer overnight and dynamic venues that can cater to a range of creative needs. This can include studios for podcast recording, green screen rooms, and even urban fitness centres. A key reason for this is due to the city being the centre of Asia’s social media scene. Hong Kong-based digital marketing experts Ayima detail how the region hosts social media giants Baidu, Facebook, and WeChat. This allows western countries greater access to invest in markets in Hong Kong, and vice versa. The percentage of social media penetration is expected to increase to 64% by 2023. This has made the city a hotbed for social media professionals—many of whom work freelance.
Similarly, more professionals and startups in Jakarta and Shanghai are paying a premium for spaces with better working environments that focus on building a community. Melbourne is now the city in Australia with the most co-working spaces as it’s at the centre of the country’s growing tech industry. One reason for this, as we put in our location guide to Melbourne, is that it is a city with a “vibrant mix of cultures and community” – with the co-working spaces being at the heart of many of these communities. Massive disruption in several key industries have also opened up opportunities for startups to flourish – most of which need more flexible arrangements.
The inherent flexibility of the creative and technology industries are shaping the spaces they operate in, which, in turn, are opening up new opportunities for growth across Asia.
As mentioned above, startups are also a huge contributor for this shift to co-working spaces. The decisive push for governments in Asia to support startups has also catalysed the proliferation of spaces that cater to these innovation centres. This is why more companies like Singtel are also embracing the change, as it will help cultivate an innovating culture necessary for growth.
The JustCo Labs in Singapore, for one, helps both enablers and accelerators to reduce innovation risks and costs of setting up shop. It also offers exclusive programs to aid SMEs in reaching their target markets and find good hire opportunities. This model is currently being replicated across the region, as more economies rely on innovation.
GREATER POTENTIAL, GREATER VALUE
It’s not surprising that collaborative spaces are making a comeback at a time when great ideas command value. Co-working spaces encourage flexibility and the potential for interaction. Innovative layout and mindful design spark conversations and ideas. More than anything, they’re a space for more connections that can foster a strong network of entrepreneurs and business leaders.
This potential, as shown by more pro-active space providers, can be cultivated by building a community around the service provided. Some offer networking events, training programs, and social events so people can connect beyond eight-to-five meetings.
In fact, JustCo enables its members to work anywhere in its 40 centres around Asia-Pacific – providing greater flexibility and connections. The only Asian co-working space provider with a multi- ity presence in the region, JustCo is also planning to extend its reach to Japan and other areas in the Asia Pacific this year.
Flexible work venues provide exactly what modern creatives and businesses need—space. This is especially true for the younger entrepreneurs coming into the workforce. As innovation leads today’s economic growth, the environment that nurtures it will expand further.
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