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The country's largest coworking space provider already has a presence in Penang, apart from 14 in the Klang Valley, 5 in Manila and 2 in Bangkok.

KUALA LUMPUR: Common Ground is eyeing another coworking space operation in Penang and new a outlet in Johor Bharu by first quarter of next year.

The country's largest coworking space provider already has a presence in Penang, apart from 14 in the Klang Valley, 5 in Manila and 2 in Bangkok.

Co-founder and chief executive officer Juhn Teo said the company is currently in negotiation with a landlord in Johor for the new coworking space operation in the southern state.

"We have received several inquiries from our members for a coworking space in Johor Bharu and I believe it is a positive venture for us to have a footprint in Johor," he told The New Straits Times recently.

When asked on the industry, Juhn said the coworking industry is growing in line with the demand for flexible office spaces.

He said the demand and growth for flexible office spaces from 2017 to 2030 will be very much exponential, citing various industry reports.

"The coworking space is not a saturated market nor it is heading that way. It is growing exponentially despite starting out very small 5-6 years ago," he said.

Juhn explained that coworking spaces started out in a range between 3,000 to 5,000 sq feet and at generally operated in less desirable real estates like old bungalows or basements or part of building the landlord could not rent out.

"But, over the last 3 years in Malaysia, coworking spaces has gone into large formats, with 20,000 sq feet and above with high-design, furniture and facilities. With large format operations, you can offer much more to your customers," he said.

Juhn said the evolution of coworking space is spawned out the service office industry which has been around for a long time.

"The general demand for small office space has always been there as I think small companies need offices that are convenient, professional and able to be rented at short term.

"What coworking spaces has done is taking that fundamental of taking up large office spaces and carving up into small office spaces and 'bite-size' rooms and laid it with lifestyle features. Its not just about service offices but adding on lifestyle features," Juhn said.

For Common Ground, Juhn said large corporation and multinational corporations has taken 40 per cent of its coworking space in Kuala Lumpur and expects more large companies to come in by 2020 onwards.

On another aspect of the business, Juhn said coworking spaces is now becoming very niche in several categories like daycare centres, cafe and restaurants and gyms incorporated with the coworking centres.

"It is becoming very niche in terms of products to cater different segments of the market. At the same time, we are also seeing a lot of consolidation with more coworking space merging and collaborating together.

"At the same time, coworking space are getting larger as people are demanding more features and facilities within one venue.

"With larger venues in the future, we would be able to incorporate other things that we have previously outsourced like gyms, studios, cafes and daycare and more collaboration where members companies and come and hold talks and workshops.

In line with the change, Juhn explained that Common Ground is very events-orientated as a coworking space and do multiple events in any point of time.

"We have also have partnerships with so many merchant partners - currently standing at 600, who gives good discounts and deals to our members," he said adding that partnerships will continue to grow more by next year.

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