Think back to the early days of Google and Facebook. When the world found out about their laid-back, hip working culture, hundreds of other companies endeavoured to emulate them. They obviously saw the potential benefits of having such a culture in their own organisations and would go to great lengths to at least simulate a similar office experience.

Such work culture and environment really resonated with the newer generation, especially the late millennials and Generation Z-ers; both of whom are incredibly ambitious and entrepreneurial.

As we entered the 2010s, more and more young enterprising minds set-out to start their own businesses. However, might not have had the capital to invest in lavish facilities. Yet, they yearned for an environment like Google’s to stimulate their creativity and innovation. As a result, more and more co-working spaces have popped up throughout Southeast Asia to accommodate these entrepreneurs and their staff.

Malaysia, for example, has experienced a huge influx of co-working spaces in the past five or six years. The Klang Valley area just outside of Kuala Lumpur (KL) in particular is home to over 70 co-working spaces, all of them strive to offer something unique to their clients to differentiate themselves, not only from each other but also from conventional office spaces; and this is not counting operators within KL proper!

Co-working spaces such as WeWork, who recently launched it’s largest space in Equatorial Plaza in the heart of Kuala Lumpur’s Golden Triangle. WeWork was convinced to open this monumental space, with all the perks and comforts that one can expect from a modern, contemporary work space, thanks to the massive demand in the area. They have also announced plans to expand further in Klang Valley.

The question now is: “What exactly is driving this demand?”. Here are some factors that might be influencing the rapid adoption of co-working spaces.

• Start-ups, SMEs and young entrepreneurs are very cost sensitive and may not be able to afford big spaces or the full set of office equipment required by their businesses, which is what the co-working spaces can offer. Not to mention the extra perks and comforts that many spaces offer these days.

• SMEs have difficulty attracting young talent if the office environment looks dated, archaic, or does not have sufficient connectivity points. By renting these spaces, albeit at a higher rental cost, these businesses can attract and retain young talents.

• Temporary place of business for those who are in the midst of transiting to new spaces, digital nomads or those running freelancing or consultancy based businesses. Co-working spaces also serve as a quick and convenient solution for those requiring professional meeting places with their clients.

Not to say that the large, corporate and hierarchical structure of large businesses is completely obsolete. Some of them have existed and succeeded for decades after all. However, based on what we can see throughout Southeast Asia, co-working spaces are a viable and cost-effective alternative to traditional business structures.