PROPERTY and construction conglomerate Megaworld Corporation has launched the country’s first project designed to integrate residences and coworking office space, banking on the growing interest in the shared office trend in the Philippines.
A salient feature of The Ellis, a 30-story residential tower built by Megaworld along L.P. Leviste St. in Makati, is what the developer calls the “CoLab Shared Spaces,” a shared office facility for residents.
“Designed as a working space that defies convention, CoLab Shared Spaces lets young professionals work quietly on their laptops while enjoying the polished but relaxed atmosphere of a unique office,” Megaworld said in a press release.
The project, which will provide 237 rental studio and one- and two-bedroom residential units, will also offer a number of “linked” units, a Megaworld representative explained, one- or two-bedroom condominiums with an attached studio unit intended for use as a working space.
Prices for units in The Ellis are estimated to range from P168,000 to P180,000 per square meter, and the estimated completion date for the project is 2021.
In a report last week, online property listing service Lamudi Philippines noted that the coworking or shared office trend is becoming increasingly popular among the young professionals demographic.
In the office space segment, Lamudi said that the traditional office market is evolving to cater to the growing demand for coworking space. This is evident in the number of providers now offering shared office locations and services; a web search showed that there are now no fewer than 17 shared or virtual office providers in Metro Manila, all of them having opened for business since 2010.
A main driver of the trend is the business demographics of the Philippines, Lamudi suggested. According to figures from the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), as of 2013, there were 941,174 business enterprises operating in the Philippines, 99.6 percent or 937,327 of which were classified as micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs), while only 0.4 percent or 3,847 were considered large enterprises.
Lamudi explained that coworking spaces cater primarily to freelancers looking for an alternative to working from home, and as well as new businesses who are too small to rent an entire office.
“For those who think working at home is not an ideal option, or that an office is too much at such an early stage in their business, sharing a workspace with various individuals—also known as coworking—is fast becoming a popular alternative, and for good reason,” Lamudi said.
The property portal listed the top advantages of coworking spaces such as the professional atmosphere they provide and less exposure to the distractions one encounters when working at home.
“At a coworking space, you do not need to feel guilty about lounging around, and the only thing that will grab your attention is the work in front of you,” Lamudi said.
Coworking spaces also help individuals foster connections to people from various industries, as these shared spaces are occupied from people from different fields.
Of course, coworking spaces help businesses save money by reducing rental costs.
“If you only have a handful of people working for you, it would make more sense to occupy a coworking space for a relatively smaller amount and just allocate the rest of the money to moving your business along,” Lamudi suggested.
Similarly, KMC Mag Group Managing Director Michael McCullough noted that shared office spaces allow smaller companies, especially those who are just starting out in the business to focus on growing their business as costs for these offices are lower, and many of the needed services and features are provided as part of the shared office package.
“These spaces provide ample room for businesses to grow as they can expand gradually in a span of months. Capex (capital expenditure) is also really low, especially for shared office spaces because providers will provide everything they need per seat,” McCullough said.