Co-working office spaces gain popularity

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Sharing workspace is popular with startups. Supplied

The concept of a co-working office space has been around for quite some time and is finally increasing in popularity in Cambodia to satisfy the country’s short-term rental space demand.
Most of the co-working spaces offered are foreign companies that have progressed tremendously in just a span of a few years. 
Those shared spaces have become very popular among individuals or groups of entrepreneurs, startups and small businesses.
Co-working space is a new trend entailing a shared working environment, often similar to an office. Unlike in a typical office environment, these co-working spaces are usually not occupied by the same organisation or company. 
There has been an increase in working space of this type of office space both in Phnom Penh City and in Siem Reap province. Some of the co-working spaces in Phnom Penh are Impact Hub Phnom Penh, Small world, Colap and a lot more. 
Meanwhile, Siem Reap has The 1961 Co-working & Art Space and Angkor Hub. 
Although co-working is still quite a new concept in Cambodia which started in 2015, Olivia Hough, the Chief Operations Officer at Impact Hub, stresses it has proven very popular for two years.
“We have expanded three times. It is likely to continue to grow as a trend as the startup scene continues to grow in Cambodia,” she said. “We wanted to support and enable Cambodians to start their own social businesses.”
Ms Hough explained that co-working was like an open plan office, with the difference being that anyone can join. 
“Our community at Impact Hub is made up of techies, creatives, NGO workers, entrepreneurs, freelancers, or writers, etc,” she said. “It’s very diverse, meaning you can work in a quiet environment with fast internet and like-minded people for a membership fee. It’s also a great place to network and meet new people.”
Meanwhile, Ham Kimhoun, the training director of Wecreate Cambodia, said: “Although this is a new trend, co-working space is the office for everyone who is working long-distance, individuals, or small groups of people. 
“Co-working office space offers a special and flexible environment as usually they include training, networking, referrals and a venue for open discussions.”
In fact, co-working spaces in Cambodia are offering a good opportunity for Cambodians to meet people from different fields, allowing them to learn and exchange different business ideas. 
Siem Reap, a multi-national melting pot, offers great opportunities for co-working spaces with a lot of encouragement and motivation. 
Loven Lamon, the managing director of The 1961 Co-working and Art Space based in Siem Reap, said: “There is great potential for co-working office space in the Cambodian market. And Siem Reap comes second after Phnom Penh since it has many tourists, foreigners and young people in the area. 
“With The 1961, members are also able to access more services and facilities such as meeting rooms, private Skype rooms and another wide range of rooms that can be used as needed.” 
Mr Loven added that The 1961 was converted in 2014 from a hotel to a co-working space. This was because they saw this growing trend, noticing many business ideas from young people who didn’t have sufficient resources to rent their own office space.
As for rental prices, Ms Hough said the price for full-time membership is $60 a month, and part-time, with access to the space three times a week, was $35. Members can also choose to have their own fixed desk with a locker for $150.
For Mr. Loven, the price depends on the needs of members: if a member needs to use the place for a day it is $5, three days is $10, one week $20 and one month $100. 
This is the price for low season, but it can go up during the high season. However, this price is still cheaper than working in their own office, or coffee shop, which won’t offer high internet speed and a flexible environment.
Co-working space is not a 100 percent real estate commitment, but it is a place where people can first prepare their business before they’re ready to occupy the actual office building for establishing the company. 
So co-working spaces prepare the real estate market to accept actual businesses, according to Mr. Loven.
Co-working spaces are not just a shared office, they are more of a new community of like-minded entrepreneurs and young business people, he said. They offer a great opportunity to learn and grow connections. 
As the startup environment is not likely to stop any time soon, we can only foresee a further increase of co-working spaces. 
Kosal Ky is a content writer

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