SINGAPORE: WeWork, the world’s largest provider of shared work spaces, opened its first location in Singapore on Thursday (Dec 14) and has plans for at least two more co-working spaces here.
The three-storey WeWork Beach Centre is the New York-based company’s first branch in Southeast Asia and 200th around the world.
At the moment, the space is “close to full” in terms of occupancy rates, according to its Southeast Asia managing director Turochas Fuad. Members include multinational companies such as HP, as well as local start-ups like restaurant-booking app Chope.
Rapid growth in Singapore is on the cards for the US co-working giant, which has been eagerly expanding in Asia.
Its second co-working space at 71 Robinson, which can accommodate more than 1,000 members, is scheduled to open in early 2018.
A third location, spanning 40,000 sq ft across two levels, will be ready in early 2019 at the redeveloped Funan DigitaLife Mall, said Mr Fuad.
The opening on Thursday comes four months after WeWork announced that it will acquire Singapore’s Spacemob as part of a US$500 million (S$681 million) push into Southeast Asia and South Korea.
WeWork said Singapore will serve as a gateway to the company’s expansion into other Southeast Asian markets next year.
“Singapore is a global hub that acts as a springboard into the whole of Southeast Asia and beyond,” noted WeWork Asia’s managing director Christian Lee. “We see numerous expansion opportunities in the region that will only serve to strengthen our global community.”
This presence beyond the local market is what makes WeWork different from other co-working operators in Singapore, said Mr Fuad.
“The co-working players in Singapore are very much focused on Singapore only but for WeWork, we are offering them a global platform."
“You want to make sure you provide what’s valuable to your members," he added.
"It’s not only regional access, but global access in terms of where they want to expand to,” he said, referring to WeWork’s presence in 20 countries around the world, including the United States, Canada and Germany.
Robo advisor Stashaway is among those that have begun working out of WeWork Beach Centre.
The availability of facilities such as meeting rooms of various sizes under one roof has been a convenient and cost-saving option for the start-up, which conducts weekly educational seminars.
The networking and collaboration opportunities will also be a boon given that StashAway is looking to expand regionally, co-founder and CEO Freddy Lim added.
For insurance technology start-up PolicyPal, taking up an office at WeWork meant having all its employees under one roof for the first time. Previously, the team of 14 people had to split into two offices after outgrowing its initial space at PayPal.
“Our team grew faster than we expected … but now, we no longer have to arrange for everyone to be at the same spot once a month for discussions. This will help our team members to be more aligned with our 2018 goal,” said founder and CEO Val Yap.
WeWork's debut comes amid an increasingly crowded co-working market in Singapore.
Shared office spaces have mushroomed in recent years to provide workspaces for users as varied as freelancers, entrepreneurs and companies looking to contain costs. But as the market gets increasingly competitive, some smaller local operators have fallen prey to consolidation.
Those still standing, such as JustCo, The Working Capitol and The Great Room, have ramped up their physical presence.
Meanwhile, Chinese player UrWork has its eyes set on a second location in Singapore. The 1,300 sq m space at Suntec City, scheduled for the first quarter of 2018, will focus on small- and medium-sized enterprises from the financial industry.
Beijing-based UrWork opened its first co-working space at the JTC LaunchPad @ one-north in June. Members range from bicycle-sharing start-up ofo to large corporations like Citic Bank and JD logistics, according to founder and CEO Mao Daqing.
Mr Mao added that the Chinese operator stands out for its ability to facilitate business expansion and growth for companies targeting the Chinese market.