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Shanghai's Coworking Landscape: What You Need To Know

9 min read

Since WeWork broke the office retail industry with it’s coworking business model, the concept of a coworking space has evolved into a different beast.

Coworking is now on everyone’s lips, from startups to old-fashioned corporates, and there is a wide range of coworking spaces across Shanghai, each with their own style and advantage.

From freelancers to SMEs to corporates, this article looks at all the needs of coworking’s biggest clients and lists Shanghai's best coworking spaces that cater to those specific needs. In other words, depending on who you are, what your needs are, some spaces offerings might be more relevant for your needs than others.

Of course, our perspective had all the chances to be biased, since we are running a coworking space ourselves, but we did our best to have an objective and factual stand point, taking into account all the data accessible on the net, and startup community feedbacks.

Lists of coworking mentioned is alphabetically ranked for maximum neutrality. So yes, we will be always ranked last (X), but it is ok.

You will probably ask yourself why another article on coworking in Shanghai, since Smart Shanghai did a great job with this highly detailed & a very good one.

We did it because all the content available out there is space oriented, and we wanted a kind of user oriented one.

Aren't we in a UX driven world?

XNode list coworking space Shanghai China

Who Are You? What Do You Need?

You are a freelancer, local startup, foreign startup, SME or corporation.

You can skip this part if you really know who you are, what you need...

Freelancer

You are a professional freelancer working in a particular industry. You’re a free bird and not attached to a startup or SME, and you prefer to work like a lone wolf in a flexible coworking space with heaps of good locations and the opportunity to collaborate with others.

Apart from having the usual perks like fast Wi-Fi, the space should give you access to business development opportunities like mentoring or guidance.

Local startup

You are a locally based startup looking to make a name for your business in Shanghai/China. You need a comfortable office space as a base of operations and it should have single or multiple locations in Shanghai’s busiest business hubs.

To help you get on your feet the space should be a rogue’s gallery of startups with plenty of opportunities to mingle with other startups and meet with mentors and VCs.

Foreign startup

You are a foreign startup looking to make it big in China. You are looking for an office space that is not only well-designed but is flexible and has multiple China and global locations. Importantly, you want a collaborative space that has a mix of Chinese and foreign startups and tons of community and networking events to help you mingle. The ideal space for you also has VC and corporate connections as well as mentoring on Chinese business practices to help you familiarise yourself with the Chinese market.

SME

You are an SME that's already found it's feet in the Chinese market and you're looking to start growing at a faster pace. The coworking space you need will not only be a comfortable large space in convenient locations around Shanghai, it will also offer a large network of corporations for you to interact with. Additionally, you'll want the space to have more VC and fundraising events/ opportunities than other coworking spaces to help you develop your business.

Corporation

You are a corporation that is looking to utilise coworking spaces to help your business interact with startups and freelancers. Apart from having stylish and comfortable locations located near your existing offices and within Shanghai's major financial districts, your ideal coworking space should have a wide range of network events and a high level of vertical integration to give your corporation the best exposure to the local ecosystem.

What Should you Consider Regarding Your Needs ?

You want to settle, grow your business, or just find a place to work from in Shanghai, and you are looking for an office, a space, a desk to build your next thing.

0- You want the cheapest space possible in Shanghai

Let's be frank, a great majority of people is just looking for the cheapest deal possible in Shanghai. No community, no service, no fancy stuff, just a place to sit (confortable if possible), a plug for the old Mac battery (unless you have the Omnicharge "not cheap but really useful intelligent" charger), and not too much noise.

Creater

You can't beat them now with their almost free offer (1 RMB/day). Pretty new space, several locations to come, and still quite...

Sandbox

The old brother (disruptor) is still doing good with its free hot desk offer.

Starbucks

Yeah, you hear me well, I am still doing that myself, as a lot of my fellows. I still think that Starbucks is the first coworking space ever. They are just charging for coffee, not desks.

1- You want a Space with different locations option in Shanghai

Because you are a traveller, or spend your time in different location in the city (within one day), or you want to receive your clients in a different location depending on their availability, schedule etc.

Naked Hub

When it comes to spaces in China, Naked Hub has you covered with locations in Beijing, Shanghai, and Hong Kong. Within Shanghai itself, Naked Hub has a foothold in all major business districts including Putuo, Huangpu, Jing ‘An, Xuhui, and Pudong.

SOHO 3Q

SOHO 3Q has some of the best spaces on offer here and they're located conveniently in Shanghai's most famous business and cultural districts including Huangpu, Jing ‘An, the Bund, and Changning.

WeWork

WeWork is a global household name that has spaces across the globe and spaces across China and Shanghai in important financial hubs. It has two spaces in Jing ‘An and two in South Huangpu close to the Bund.

XNode

XNode is the newest kid on the block but it provides spaces in some of Shanghai's most vibrant business districts. At it's headquarters in JingAn XNode offers a massive 3 floors of space whilst also operating spacious locations in Bay Valley, DongHu, Hongqiao, and Zhangjiang.

2- You want a well-designed, high-end space

Just like a beautifully decorated home, your working environment should be well-planned, comfortable, and modern.

Naked Hub

I was there yesterday, in their Xintiandi space. Amazing, beautiful. They must have invested a lot. But I couldn't understand why the sound quality was bad...?

All other spaces are, comfortable, chic, and designed by award-winning architects like Zaha Hadid.

Soho 3Q

Soho 3Q, may not be designed by award winning artists but its locations have a trendy and eclectic design, so they are sure to help drive the creative juices whilst making work just a little bit more fun.

UrWork

Similarly, UrWork (some might say WeWork copycat) offers a comfortable and hip space with plenty of open lounges and relaxation areas alongside its hot desks.

WeWork

WeWork has put a great deal of thought into designing their spaces and they are known to integrate a great deal of architecture from Shanghai's past giving the spaces a fusion of modern and vintage feel.

3- You want a space with both collaboration and a bit of privacy

A coworking space needs the right balance between privacy and collaboration.

Naked Hub

Naked Hub's main location in Xuhui is huge with 2 floors and acres of lounge space to help entrepreneurs and freelancers choose between casual and more focused and quiet work environments.

WeWork

WeWork have balanced privacy and collaboration in their spaces with a mix of single and collaborative desks in their hipster-inspired space.

4- You want a space with facilities to make work more enjoyable

The facilities of a coworking space make working there a breeze. Check again Smart Shanghai's article, all facilities are listed, per coworking spaces.

Agora Space

Agora Space may not be the biggest space but it does offer free printing, brewed coffee and tea and the Wi-Fi is very fast. Unfortunately they don't have lockers or any food sold on site.

Naked Hub

Naked Hub offers almost every service you could think of including showers, fridges and microwaves, free massages, reasonably fast Wi-Fi, snack vending machines, and free-flow beer and coffee.

WeWork

WeWork also offers pretty much every amenity a startup could need including fridges, printing and scanning, free soft drinks, coffee and beer.

5- You need a space with a good level of service

A well-serviced office or space will welcome you like family and serve as your virtual office assistant.

Agora Space

Legend has it that the receptionists at Agora Space are some of the best in the business and will not only greet you on arriving but will help with printing, coffee-making, and food ordering.

Naked Hub

Naked Hub separates itself from the pack by offering 24 hour security to keep you safe during those all-nighters whilst also providing friendly community managers who will help you with any query.

Sandbox

Sandbox is known for having very little service apart from having people working at their coffee stand. Most amenities that you need can be accessed and paid for through their Sandbox app.

WeWork

As the coworking veteran in this list, WeWork also has a front desk that's open to help all startups with any of their needs.

XNode

XNode doesn't just have a designated front desk to help you with anything that you need, it also offers both English and Chinese language services to help when things get lost in translation.

6- You need a space with networking and social events

Good coworking spaces have networking, community, and educational events to boost the atmosphere of the space, as well as the worth of the space.

Naked Hub

Naked Hub also runs educational workshops and guest speaking events in its large spaces turning boring work functions into a lively business/social event. They also have guest speakers from major global corporations.

WeWork

As one of the world's first coworking spaces WeWork has a bundle of weekly events to sink your teeth into including happy hours, business workshops and casual hobby classes (like yoga!) as well as networking events.

XNode

XNode not only holds regular guest speaker events with successful entrepreneurs but also runs business-themed workshops to help startups gain a better understanding of the Chinese market. Additionally, XNode holds regular community pitching events to kick-start collaboration and understanding startups.

7- You want a coworking space with a broad community

The best community collaboration is achieved when people come from different cultural backgrounds.

Naked Hub

Naked Hub is in a similar boat to WeWork but tends to mostly attract foreign startups and expatriate freelancers. All their events are in English.

WeWork

Being the most international of the coworking spaces, WeWork tends to attract foreign startups and freelancers looking for a familiar space in Shanghai whilst also housing a lot of local startups.

XNode

XNode is where East meets West and the space has a lot of startups from across Asia, and the Western World. Their events are also geared towards both their international and local communities with both English and Mandarin translations.

8- You want a space that’s vertically integrated

Different types of startups and business models add more flavor to the collaboration mix.

Agora Space

Agora Space is tuning its vertical integration abilities by focusing more on tech startups and organising tech-focused events. It has also opened its doors to tech freelancers from all industries.

People Squared

Although People Squared isn't technically involved in vertical integration, it houses China Accelerator which recruits batches of startups to settle in People Squared's space, all of whom come from different industries.

XNode

XNode houses a lot of different startups and has recently made an effort to vertically integrate with a specific focus on Fintech and IoT startups and events.

9- You want a space with international startups and companies

A coworking space with an international touch allows startups to get a global perspective.

Naked Hub

Naked Hub is more popular with "laowais" but it regularly runs workshops with international corporations such as Electronic Arts and IKEA to help startups feel the international presence.

WeWork

WeWork naturally attracts foreign and local startups but it isn't known if social/ networking events are run in more than one language.

XNode

XNode prides itself on being one of the only coworking spaces that tries to keep an international community of startups. Startups come not just from Asia, but also from Australia, Europe, and North America, adding to XNode's rich community tapestry.

10- You want a space with a large corporate network

Spaces with a large web of corporations can get startups connected to great business opportunities.

Regus

Regus is an international titan of office space retail and has coworking offices in Shanghai's Jinmao Tower. Although it doesn’t host any corporate events or networking services, many multinational corporations are housed in Regus' offices.

SOHO

As mentioned earlier SOHO 3Q's parent company is a big name in office space retail and has links with some of China and the world's biggest corporations and unicorns.

XNode

As an accelerator XNode has a list of corporations that it can connect startups with to give startups that added advantage to get support from both corporates and other startups.

11- You want access to mentoring and guidance

Every startup needs a helping hand and spaces that provide mentors can really accelerate business growth.

People Squared

People Squared doesn't have any mentoring services of its own but because it's hosting China Accelerator there are possibilities for startups to access mentoring within the space.

XNode

XNode has a range of mentors connected with the space who are more than happy to take startups under their wing. However, the mentors are not full time and the service is in its early stages.

12- You want to be connected to VCs and investors

Startups need funding to get off the ground, and spaces who can provide VC connections will provide foundation for a startup

China Accelerator in P2

Again, People Squared do not offer investors' connexions but China Accelerator does, and its accelerator is probably one of the best in Asia.

Naked Hub

Although Naked Hub does not connect startups with VCs, their space if often lent to other Startup organisations like Startup Grind who hold pitching competitions and fundraising events.

XNode

Being a hybrid of accelerator and coworking space, XNode is able to help startups rub shoulders with VCs through their regular pitching and networking events for startups.

13- You want to be close to old fashioned companies, and remember old times...

Serviced Office

You'll find plenty of them, just type keywords on google, adding Shanghai.

I am still wondering how some of them are surviving... Probably diversification in services...

14- You want to dive in a Chinese space, being surrounded by Chinese people, with a strong Chinese culture

The best way to embrace the Chinese culture and mindset is to dive deeply into it. You might then consider the following:

People Squared, Urwork, XNode ZhangJiang space

List of coworking spaces mentioned in this document with links to their websites:

Naked Hub, Soho 3Q, WeWork, XNode, UrWork, Agora Space, Sandbox, People Squared (CA), Regus, Creater.

by Clinton C.

contact@thexnode.com

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