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Coworking or serviced office, what is better for my business?

coworking space with premium arabica coffeee

Flexible workspaces have been trending for the past decade, with demand and supply continuing to grow. While many people have heard of coworking space and serviced office, they are often confused if they’re the same product since both offer shared amenities such as kitchens and meeting rooms. They are actually fundamentally different, with serviced offices offering dedicated workspace for businesses, and coworking spaces providing shared working areas. Selecting the right workspace is key to business success, especially in an expensive city like Hong Kong, where the commercial market is very competitive. This article will provide a comprehensive comparison between coworking space and serviced offices, helping readers to make an informed decision about which workspace best suits their business.


What is a Coworking Space?

entrepreneurs working at coworking desk

Coworking space, as the name suggests, is typically shared working spaces equipped with sharing work desks and chairs. A wide range of amenities are provided, including meeting rooms, business lounges, and kitchens. Located in commercial areas, they are convenient for individuals or businesses who prefer to work independently and do not require a dedicated workspace. Coworking spaces typically allow renters to choose between a dedicated desk and a hot desk.


Advantages of Coworking Spaces

Since most facilities are shared, coworking spaces boost collaboration and networking opportunities with like-minded individuals. They put effort in creating a sense of community and hosting networking events such as happy hours, guest talks and yoga classes to encourage people to meet and interact with each other.

In addition, coworking spaces offer flexible lease terms and cost-effective solutions for startups and small businesses. The lease terms range from daily to monthly and are charged per workstation, making it easy to scale up and down as required. As working from home or implementing a hybrid working schedule becomes more common, businesses can better control their budget by carefully calculating how many workstations are needed and allocating resources accordingly. 

Sharing most facilities with others also makes the cost of coworking spaces more affordable than other office solutions, making them a popular option for small businesses. Some international providers even allow members to travel and work in other locations within the network, which is a major draw for frequent travellers.


Drawbacks of Coworking Spaces

While coworking spaces offer the benefit of community, many see them as a temporary option due to the lack of complete control and privacy. All business ideas and internal communication with the team are conducted in a shared environment unless a meeting room is booked. 

The lack of storage space also forces the team to carry belongings around all the time. Not to mention the distractions and noise in the common area, which can be difficult for some to work in.

Additionally, coworking spaces are leaning towards 'self-service' and provide limited support. For example, most places do not allow renters the use of their address for business, meaning they have to seek additional virtual office services elsewhere.

The lack of a dedicated workspace also makes it hard to accommodate bigger teams as the business grows. The setup of a coworking space is built for shorter-term solutions for startups and small businesses.


What is a serviced office?

business lounge of a serviced office centre

A serviced office is a hybrid solution between a private office and a coworking space. They offer a secure, private and fully furnished office for businesses to work in, with a variety of amenities shared between renters, including but not limited to meeting rooms and boardrooms, kitchens, receptions and more. They are typically located in prime business districts, catering to those looking for a cost-effective workspace solution with a certain level of privacy.


Benefits of Serviced Offices:

Serviced offices are popular among businesses as a cost-effective workspace solution that combines the advantages of a private office and coworking space. Their fully furnished and equipped offices come in various sizes, allowing businesses to save upfront costs by providing ready-to-use office essentials such as working desks, chairs, storage, and internet. The short-term flexible lease also makes it easy for businesses to scale up and down within the same location. 


Inside the dedicated workspace, a certain level of personal branding is allowed, and the teams can also work in a private environment that boosts productivity. 

Outside the private offices, a variety of shared amenities is available to use. For instance, businesses can take advantage of the fully equipped meeting rooms to meet clients, projecting and maintaining a prestigious corporate image. 


Furthermore, their well-trained reception teams provide services such as mail handling, phone answering, and some even provide company formation services. By sharing these administrative tasks with the team, businesses can focus on their core operations. In terms of community, serviced office providers host networking events for businesses to meet and interact with each other, which can lead to future collaborations. 

Overall, serviced offices allow businesses to enjoy professional facilities and setup while having their own privacy in their dedicated workspace, finding a balance between a private office and coworking space.


Limitations of Serviced Offices:

Since serviced offices provide a dedicated workspace for businesses, their monthly cost is generally higher than a coworking space. However, the value is incomparable, as many businesses require a certain level of privacy for their work, and the shared working area of a coworking space is simply not suitable for everyone.

Serviced offices also tend to be less community-driven since people mainly spend most of their time and work in their own space. Yet, by joining their networking events, you can still meet the community there and build your network. Serviced offices are also not ideal for those who require full customization in their space. While most providers can accommodate personal branding, the fit-out and restoration cost would be additional expenses for businesses.


Coworking space or serviced office:

What's the best solution?

entrepreneur working on laptop at desk

When choosing between a coworking space and serviced office, there are several factors that need to be considered. 


First, evaluate the budget and needs of your business. Having a luxury office with a fantastic view is sweet, but setting a realistic budget would be the best decision for your business's success. Save room for ad-hoc expenses during your lease. Take a thorough evaluation of what your business needs, especially in terms of privacy. Do you require a private office, and can you work in a shared environment? These are the questions that can help you narrow down which type of workspaces you actually need.


If you're a startup or small business, growth prospects and scalability are also a concern. While both coworking spaces and serviced offices allow businesses to scale up or down as required,in the long-term, having a dedicated office for the team can ensure the privacy and security of information, and block out distractions from other renters, so that they can focus on their work.


The location of the workspace is also important. To start off, research where your potential clients and competitors are, and that's usually the area you'd want to be in. A prime location not only gives your business instant credibility with your clients, employees, and business partners, but the accessibility and proximity to amenities, such as shopping malls and transportation hubs, are also great pluses.


If you work individually as a freelancer or entrepreneur, the community within the workspace may interest you. Coworking spaces tend to have a stronger sense of community and are more active in hosting networking events to boost collaboration opportunities. Renters in serviced offices tend to spend more time in their own offices.


By conducting a thorough evaluation of your business needs, you can then decide whether a coworking space or a serviced office is the best solution for your business.


Discover Bela Offices solutions

business lounge of flexible workspace provider

Bela Offices is a serviced office provider with premium offerings that come as standard. They provide businesses with a personal client experience, ensuring that their staff is carefully selected from well-established hospitality industries. Offering flexible structured terms and spacious offices, businesses of any size can easily find the office space that is tailored to their needs. With prime locations in Central, Sheung Wan, and Tsim Sha Tsui, Bela Offices provides businesses with a professional image and access to high-quality amenities, such as reception services, meeting rooms, and administrative support. They also offer virtual offices, hot desks, and event spaces, providing businesses with flexible solutions to meet their workspace needs.


Conclusion

Choosing the right workspace option is key to business success, and understanding the differences between coworking and serviced offices can help businesses make an informed decision. Coworking spaces are a cost-effective solution for startups and small businesses, offering a community-driven environment and flexible lease options. Serviced offices, on the other hand, provide businesses with a professional image, customisable office solutions and support services. When deciding between coworking and serviced offices, businesses should thoroughly evaluate their budget and workspace requirements. Bela Offices offers premium serviced office solutions in prime locations in Hong Kong, providing businesses with a personal client experience and access to high-quality amenities.


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