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Trendspotting /

Co-Working Spaces

Words Sharon Crowther Photography SooPhye

Come Together As co-working takes off around the globe, shared workspaces are set for rapid expansion. goingplacesmagazine.com / 54 / September 2017

1. Founders of Common Ground Erman Akinci (left) and Juhn Teo (right) 2. Coffee bar The Grind greets co-workers to the communal working space 3. The bright and airy space at Common Ground

AT 9 AM ON MONDAY IN COMMON GROUND, a twostorey penthouse in the affluent Kuala Lumpur suburb of Damansara Heights, workers arrive to start their week at the office. They exchange greetings, open laptops and order soy lattes and macchiatos from the coffee bar, The Grind. The space they settle into is airy and bright; floor-to-ceiling glass windows optimise an impressive view of the city skyline, furnishings are opulent and contemporary, and the whole vibe is more high design than corporate clone.

Side by side at one long desk, a graphic designer, an accountant and I, a freelance writer, tap away on keyboards, exchanging occasional small talk and enjoying our first caffeine hit of the day. Next door, in a lounge area, a Pilates instructor, a personal trainer and an interior designer mingle. Meanwhile, in the fixed desk area, web developers, consultants and marketeers work alongside people who run an online retail platform. It's a unique environment, a high-energy vocational smorgasbord, a social hub and the result of one of the biggest global trends of the decade: co-working.

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1 A Rising Workforce Over the last couple of decades, the sharing-economy generation has already changed the way we live, buy, commute and vacation. It makes sense that, eventually, their influence would change the way we work. Companies like Airbnb and Uber have become household names, and co-working is based on the same principles: the power of collaboration and collectives, sharing resources and economies of scale. Throw in an Instagram-friendly environment and you've got a winning combination for millennials looking for an alternative to large-scale corporate life. And the figures are compelling. A 2017 Global CoWorking Survey revealed that a decade ago there were just 75 shared workspaces registered in the world; by the end of 2017, it is estimated there will be 13,500 coworking locations housing 1.2 million people. Research by commercial real estate companies estimate that by 2030, co-working spaces are expected to make up 30 percent of the global office market. In Asia, demand for co-working offices has grown by 15 percent annually, with large metropolises like Bangkok, Hong Kong and Singapore leading the supply. Now, co-working spaces are cropping up all over Kuala Lumpur, with one operator leading in both size, scale and ambition.

Biggest Co-Working Space Launched in March 2016, after a USD700,000 (RM3 million) renovation, Common Ground was founded by exCatcha Group executive Erman Akinci and former CEO of Guocoland's Tower REIT Juhn Teo.

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