Coworking is more than just a trend, it’s a worldwide movement that started a decade and a half ago and is still going strong today. The number of coworking spaces around the world has increased by nearly 700 percent since 2011. Although the figure isn’t as impressive in Cambodia, according to coworker.com, there’s a total of 25 coworking spaces in the country; mostly located in Phnom Penh and Siem Reap.
Numbers don’t lie. People now are coworking more than ever before, and there are many reasons why. To be in a community is definitely one of the main reasons why people switch from working at home or a coffee shop to working in a coworking space. Being able to interact with others, discover new opportunities, share knowledge, and come up with new ideas — little things like these that can foster collaborative mindsets for future projects. The rise of coworking, globally, is also attributed to the new workforce that believes that a judgement-free and flexible environment that doesn’t follow the norm of 9-5 work pattern, can increase their productivity and that’s proven to be the case in many of the surveys conducted.
The rise of coworking in Cambodia is most likely influenced by the global movement itself, but it is true that in some cases, people who were thinking of opening a coffee shop, launched a coworking space instead. The business model is just so unique and the aura around the movement makes much more appealing than a regular coffee shop. For a startup in Cambodia, it makes more sense to get a team desk membership at a coworking space than to rent a conventional office space. It’s obviously not as cheap as working from home, but considering the amenities that a typical coworking space provides, it’s definitely worth the investment. But for folks who aren’t a part of a startup or a company, namely freelancers, coworking is the way to go. Not only will you meet new people and expand your business network, you’ll also be able to decrease your sense of isolation, invite positive pressure to get your work done, and spend less time being unproductive.
During my time working for and at a coworking space, we were in contact with an international corporation (Cambodia branch) about a project that allows their employees to use the coworking space as an alternative workplace — placing them in a unique yet flexible environment and joining a community that they can benefit from. But it was not a surprise to me that a big corporation would do that. Coca-Cola was one of the first to experiment with internal coworking. They established a 70-person space that had a 3-D printer and hosted a series of weekend events where their employees collaborated to think of new product ideas.
Ultimately, the rise of coworking in Cambodia is and will continue to be a steady one. Although the pandemic has affected most coworking spaces and the core idea of coworking has been challenged by the social distancing guidelines, the movement is not dead and will only be stronger.