Over the past few years, co-working spaces have become a global trend. From Berlin to Beijing, from Bangalore to Bali, the world is witnessing a new trend, where people share working space with employees from other companies. Startups with less than five employees who often find themselves moving around from one cafe to another to do meetings or even to work, can now find a place to work with an affordable price.

The spirit of collaboration amongst startups and entrepreneurs is driving the co-working space in Indonesia too. There are at least 10 co-working spaces like this in Indonesia currently.

According to Aryo P Ariotedjo, owner of Freeware, one of the co-working spaces, feels that the rise in property prices in Indonesia, along with the rising number of entrepreneurs in the country is a key factor that has fuelled the growth of co-working spaces.


But the philosophy behind co-working spaces goes beyond the calculations of economic. “In a co-working space, an employee of a startup with a small team strength wouldn’t feel lonely. The atmosphere creates a strong sense of togetherness, who too are in the same phase of building a business,” adds Aryo who is also Managing Partner of Grupara Inc.

Read Also: Startup incubator GRUPARA launches free coworking space in Jakarta

To understand the trend better, we also spoke to Steve Munroe, Co-founder of Hubud, a beautiful co-working space in downtown Ubud, Bali. “Different spaces may have different motivations. For Hubud, we believe that humans are social beings and we can achieve much more together than we can by ourselves,” Munroe says.


In an enterprising environment like this, you rub shoulders with other talented people, who are bubbling with ideas, and their is a sense of belongingness to a community. Munroe adds, “For example, we have a new member who has just moved here from Semarang and wants some feedback on a new startup he is launching. We invited members to come out, and 25 people worked with him for an hour and a half to help him deal with the issues he was facing. They do this for free. The community likes to help each other and feels proud in the success.”

According to Albert Endi, Chief of Comma, another co-working space in downtown Jakarta, co-working spaces can become “accelerators” for startups. The uniqueness about comma is that mentorship is not provided by the organisation, but is done by other startups — in a manner of peer mentoring. “Fellow members open up themselves and help each other to grow,” says Endi.


Shafira Indah Meutia, Public Relation of Jogja Digital Valley (JDV), a co-working space in Yogyakarta city and sponsored by Telkom, adds, “Collaboration is the spirit of a co-working space. The space facilitates freelancers/professionals to interact with one another.”


Varied Business Model
There’s no single revenue model for co-working spaces. While some are free to use, others charge their users. Freeware, JDV as well as well as BDV (Bandung Digital Valley) which are also a part of a CSR programmes of Telkom, do not charge any single Rupiah from their users.

“Till 2013 Freeware was totally free, but starting 2014, we have moved to a semi-subsidized model. We give free space to some startups and charge some who we think can afford to pay. But our rates are still the cheapest – IDR 1,250,000 (about US$103) per desk per month,” says Aryo.

Some, like Comma, also offer virtual office service. As Steve Munroe points out, “There are many different models. Currently, we generate the majority of our revenue through monthly memberships and meeting space rental. We are exploring other revenue models, such as trainings and workshops, project management and business support.”

Who uses these facilities?
Surprisingly, not only startups find this facility useful. To add spirit of collaboration, some big corporations such as Nutrifood too use co-working spaces. Nutrifood uses Comma as one of its basecamps. World Resource Institute,an NGO based in Washington DC, and startups like wujudkan.com, happy5, zocko, and pricebook.co.id are listed as Comma members. Comma now has 58 active members from 29 companies.

Since 2013, Freeware has been home to 18 startups. Currently, Project Shoe, BLINC*, Maskoolin, Lolabox, Gravira, and Telunjuk are sharing the co-working space.

In case of JDV, there are at least 20-30 startups using the co-working space at a point of time.

Hubud meanwhile, has been a hub to several startups like Eleven Yellow, non profit organisations like Kopernik and IDEP, and established companies like JomSocial. Filmmakers, consultants, web programmers, designers, copywriters and many other professionals too share the co-working space. Currently, Hubud claims to have 200 active members from 27 countries.

freeware-1 comma hubu-logo jdv
Address Gedung MEDCO Ampera I 3rd floor
Jl. Ampera Raya no.20. Cilandak
South Jakarta
Jalan Wolter Monginsidi No.63,
Jakarta Selatan, Kota Jakarta Selatan, DKI Jakarta 12180, Indonesia
Monkey Forest Road 88x Ubud, Gianyar, Bali 80571
Jalan Kartini no 7 Sagan, Yogyakarta
Free/Charge Both Charge Charge Free
Daily Fee
Monthly Fee US$103 US$250 US$16-208
Size | Capacity 120 sqm | 50-60 persons 250 sqm | 40 desks 420 sqm | 200+ 1,000 sqm | 10 private working space with capacity for 40 persons
Facilities — Meeting Room
— Photo Studio
— Free Parking
— Free Internet
— Cafetaria & minimart
— Mosque
— 24/7 Security Service
— Library
— Mentorship network (40 mentor list)
— Event space for up to 100 persons
— 1 Small meeting room for 4 people
— 2 Internet access (8 MBPS)
— Private locker
— Free flow pantry (coffee, tea, mineral water)
— CoLibrary to find source of knowledge and inspiration
— A cafe with a ricefield view
— Main room, loft, conference and meeting rooms and a Skype booth
— 10MB dedicated fibre optic line and a 2MB backup from a separate provider
— Printer, scanner, copier
— Kitchen with free coffee and tea, organic garden cafe
— Projectors and screens
— Downtown location
— Wide parking space
— Comfortable working place
— Cable TV
— Praying room
— 50 persons capacity meeting room
— 20 seats cafeteria

Still a long way to go
Sounds exciting! But the development of co-working space business in Indonesia is still a long way to go. The co-working trend is still considered new in Indonesia and many players find the need of educating the market.

Aryo says, “Many startups still prefer to rent boarding houses. They only focus on the cost factor and cannot or refuse to see other abstract benefits in working from a co-working space.”

Despite the fact that JDV is a free facility, it still struggles to explain the benefits of working from a co-working space. “It’s difficult to explain the co-working space concept to Yogyakarta public. We explain — that it as a working space like an office, but is free; and is open like a cafe,” says Meutia.

Munroe on the other hand feels that as Hubud has 260 members, it no longer needs to explain it too hard to people. “People realise the benefits. We have moved beyond the ‘customer education’ phase.”

Having said that, he does feel that “socialising people takes some effort” as spaces like Hubud are relatively new to Indonesia. “They fail to understand why they should pay for something like WiFi, which they feel they can get free at a cafe or home.”

Hubud boasts of a reliable and a high internet speed, besides business facilities like printers and scanners. “What they get is a community of professionals to connect to, a design-led working environment and incredible learning opportunities through the 25 events we have each month. Once they experience it, we usually don’t have to do a hard sell!” says Munroe.

Read Also: Surviving in the jungle of Singapore’s co-working space

Endi is of the opinion that Indonesia as a market for co-working spaces is far from ready. “We need to educate the people about these spaces, because, for the majority, working still means a closed room,” says the Chief of Comma, which has tries to educate the startups about the co-working space concept through social media and its website.

But all agree that the co-working space market will grow and is not just a passing trend. Dondi Hananto, one of the owners of Comma, aptly summaries the trend, “The community is everything! And a great co-working space is one where real collaborations happen among the members.”

Featured Image: Hubud