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Serviced offices are by no means a new concept. They originally evolved from hotel business centers in response to the inflexible nature of traditional commercial property leases, which many startups and small businesses felt were incompatible with the needs of a growing business in a volatile world.
Generally, companies lease space by the desk on a weekly or monthly basis, with the flexibility to add on extra services as required. Some offer more of a club-type arrangement, where you pay an annual fee to use any of their centers globally. Others offer a memberships model, where as well as space, members have preferential access to third-party providers and advisers, events, and networking opportunities.
Ms. Trang noted that serviced offices are costly due to the flexibility they offer coming at a price. “The co-working concept then emerged as a more economical solution, where a diverse group of startups and independent professionals work in a more open and communal setting,” she explained. “Facilities are cut back to office essentials, such as informal desk space, internet access, IT services, and possibly refreshments.”
For freelancers, unlike traditional offices or working at home, she said, co-working spaces offer members a choice of either working independently in privacy or socializing and exchanging ideas with like-minded people. Many professionals believe such an environment improves their work performance, making the co-working model an increasingly popular choice for economical and temporary office space.
According to the General Statistics Office, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) accounted for 97 per cent of all enterprises registered in Vietnam over the last 15 years and employ approximately 50 per cent of the workforce. In the first seven months of this year, 72,953 new businesses were registered, a 13.8 per cent increase year-on-year. “Creativity and flexibility are becoming increasingly valued and aspirational, so the co-working sector has naturally grown to service the needs of this new generation of businesses,” Ms. Trang said.
In Vietnam, co-working models have expanded in major cities and continue to draw more investment. Despite a large population of SMEs and increasing numbers of startups, co-working models are still a very limited proportion of total leasing activities, showing there is room for growth.
Demand continues to increase as the next generation of businesspeople begin to embrace the flexibility and floor space economies that co-working space provides. “The co-working model in Vietnam has a lot of room for further development in catering to the commercial space needs of the growing entrepreneurial class,” Ms. Trang believes.