These co-living concepts can help companies slash short-term staff housing costs by 50 per cent

By Lam Ka-sing / | April 22, 2019 6:52 PM SGT
Financial institutions, consultancy firms, universities and start-ups are looking to co-living as a flexible, short-term accommodation solution that could cut costs by as much as 50 per cent, industry players said.
"Approximately 25 companies have shown interest in our co-living solution in the last six months," said Wang Tse, co-founder of Campfire, which offers 80 rooms in Sham Shui Po. "They are looking for short-term or flexible accommodation for interns and project staff from 18 to 28 years old."
He said corporate clients, ranging from financial institutions to start-ups, typically seek out housing for one to five employees, although one employer wanted housing for 10 staff.
Tse said individual rooms in the company's Sham Shui Po location rent from HK$9,000 (US$1,147) to 15,000 per month.
"We are seeing a trend of companies moving their short term accommodation requirements from serviced apartments and hotels to co-living solutions, though the key market for co-living accommodation is young professionals, entrepreneurs and the university student market," Tse said.
"Here in Hong Kong, we had enquiries from a mainland professional services company seeking en-bloc properties for rent to accommodate more than 100 employees last year," Ma said. "They are open to co-living choices that offer the whole bloc for lease."
Campfire's co-living space in Sham Shui Po features a single bed per room. Photo: Handout
"I would not be surprised to see mainland companies, such as banks, which usually house their mainland staff in serviced apartments, to start housing them in co-living options," Ma said. "Whether these companies will entertain co-living remains to be seen but I think the interest will grow if higher quality schemes come to market."
Michelle Chau Wang-yu, a co-founder of the platform, said her company has received inquiries from local tech companies in the last two months to help house their staff from overseas.
"They also want to centralise their staff for easier management. Otherwise, they would be scattered [around the city]," Chau said.
Michelle Chau Wang-yu, a co-founder of the platform, said her company has received inquiries from local tech companies. Photo: Xiaomei Chen
While there is no formal definition for co-living, the concept can be understood as an organised system to leverage the advantages that come from shared living spaces.
"Co-living operators are using the space better and reducing underutilised space. Economies of scale for things like utilities, Wi-fi, cleaning and furniture are also creating cost efficiencies for all parties involved," according to a JLL report "Co-living in costly cities " Asia-Pacific".
Companies placing employees in co-living spaces over traditional serviced apartments could lower their housing costs by as much as 50 per cent, according to Ma.
"A one-bedroom serviced apartment that corporate occupiers will consider for their staff typically rents in the range of HK$30,000 to HK$35,000 per month, depending on whether they are on Hong Kong Island or in Kowloon," Ma said. "Better co-living options with comparable finishes rent from HK$15,000 per month."
Ma said young employee often prefer co-living options because they can interact with colleagues and settle in more easily when they are relocated to an unfamiliar city.
He added that the concept also has appeal to older age groups who value the community-based aspect of co-living.
This article originally appeared in the South China Morning Post (SCMP), the most authoritative voice reporting on China and Asia for more than a century. For more SCMP stories, please explore the SCMP app or visit the SCMP's Facebook and Twitter pages. Copyright © 2019 South China Morning Post Publishers Ltd. All rights reserved.
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