We recommend you give each place a thorough going-over in person. They all do free tours, arranged via their websites or by phone. Avail yourself of that service. Abuse it!
The ivory elephant in the coworking space, WeWork is an American coworking brand with a staggering amount of investment and spaces in just about every city in the world. They made a big splash last year when they acquired Shanghai's homegrown naked Hub, folding it into their coworking empire, which includes 18 locations around town.
Their headquarters on Yanping Lu is spacious, airy and bright thanks to its big central atrium and plethora of windows. Granted, some of them look directly onto a brick wall, but others are a fish tank, so there's a bit of everything. They have complimentary mouthwash in the bathrooms, which is either top-notch and/or overbearing attention to detail. The location is also great, with at least two dozen decent F&B spots within walking distance.
Price: Priiicy. This is a vanity coworking spot. For your "statement" hotdesk you're paying 2,300rmb/month, or 3,100rmb/month for a dedicated desk. Private offices start at 3,500rmb/month.
Probably the first coworking space the expat community heard about, the naked Hub on Fuxing Zhong Lu is broadly responsible for introducing Shanghai to the Silicon Valley style of upbeat-positivity-goodvibes coworking space to the city, as opposed to a collection of desks in a holding cell. Some three years later, this space is still around, though naked Hub has moved on to bigger and better spaces (16 in total, including one opening in Columbia Circle). The common room's still nice, and the fifth floor outdoor square is a nice touch. Office spaces on the lower floors can get quite dark, even during the day, but more in a cozy "working by candlelight" sort of way. Their no-clothes policy is a little weird — is that joke played out yet? It is? Aw.
Price: Hot desk access lets you chill at any naked Hub in Shanghai for 1,800rmb/month, fixed desks/"open office" are 2,800rmb/month. Big draw is the naked Hub Go program, which is like Hot Desk, except you pay 15rmb/hour. You check in and out by app/WeChat, so that's a cool feature for the itinerant digital nomad.
Xnode is primarily one of those hot, hot accelerators targeted at both startups and more established corporations. That used to be a unique selling point, though nowadays, every coworking space and its uncle offers something that at least sounds like that. Xnode has three locations in Shanghai, including one in Yangpu and one in Hongkou. The one in Jing'an is spread across three floors in a downtown high-rise. Lots of natural light here thanks to the big windows, especially in the conference rooms, and while their café/lounge areas are nicely furnished, they're not super convenient for work due to a dearth of sockets. But still a good, bustling vibe here. Wide, open-plan working spots for fixed desk users.
Price: Hot desk prices are calculated by day with escalating discounts; 150rmb/day, 700rmb/5 days, 1,300rmb/10 days. Dedicated desks are 2,280rmb/month, while private offices start at 9,000rmb/month for a four-person private office.
People Squared (sometimes called P2) was very likely the first co-working space in Shanghai, launching back in 2008. Now they've now got 13 spaces around town. Their "Hero Center/Maker Center" on Yuyuan Dong Lu attracts a strong local presence, popular with coders, engineer and makers. More rough-and-tumble, targeted at smaller-scale startups that don't need a green-wall or a dedicated yoga space, it's also home to Chinaccelerator, and partnered with Google for Entrepreneurs. A little cramped, but they have a nice canteen, which is where they hold a bunch of their events, plus a couple of bars directly on its doorstep. The staff is mostly English-speaking but I did have one or two moments where the reception had to go get someone else. Take note if your Chinese is debilitatingly terrible.
The one thing we didn't find elsewhere? Catroom. A room with four snugglesome adorable kittywitties in a room with a desk or two for anyone who doesn't mind the smell of kitty litter. Ten million extra points for that.
Price: Pricing works in brackets; the "Startup" package is between 1,000-2,000rmb/person/month, depending on your space. The "X" package, meanwhile, is 3,000-3,500rmb/person/month. They've also got this new "M" package for 2,000-2,500/person/month targeted at musical types, including a livehouse and recording studio. That one's only available at a new location in Xuhui.
The mom-and-pop-shop of the coworking setups, Agora Space is spread across a couple of repurposed apartments in a neighborhood complex, plus their bomb-ass bomb shelter. It's got the typical gamut of facilities, including a baking oven and a well-stocked pantry of condiments in the shelter, and the aboveground locations have the benefit of a fair amount of natural light and even a little garden. Also the home of coderbunker.
It's rough around the edges, but if the super polished, sunny-corporate vibe of somewhere like a Mixpace puts you off, and you're looking for something a little more rustic, check this one out.
Price: Hot desks are 1,160rmb/month, fixed desks are 1,460rmb/month. Office spaces start at 4,500rmb/month for five people.
Mixpace isn't the newest addition to the coworking space (a new chain probably launched by the time you got to entry three on this list) but it's definitely the highest profile these days. Launched in 2016 and with most of their 11 locations only about a year old, they've gotten a surge in funding recently that's seen them take out a massive ad in the metro, and plaster their logos in eye-searingly illuminated signage across the tops of their buildings. Their deal is that they're targeting the (hugely saturated) domestic market; whereas the WeWorks and the naked Hubs’ expat-focus translates to community-building and free beer, Mixpace is aimed at (relative) affordability, stylish surrounds and comfort. Don't worry, they still have English-speaking reception.
They've definitely got the stylish surrounds down. Nothing encourages big dreams like working in an interior designer's white-knuckle wet dream. The Wonderwall space we went to is one of the smaller ones, split further in half by the presence of a Super Monkey gym, but it's nicely laid-out and centrally located. The atmosphere was a bit quieter and more studious than other coworking spaces when we went. Decent coffee, too.
Price: Most downtown Mixpace locations have roughly the same price: 2,400rmb/month for a fixed desk (no hot desks, though that might be coming back in the future), and starting at 2,500rmb/month for private offices (though that's a lower end quote).
We haven't even mentioned CreaterSpace, BaseCo, We+, Soho3Q, Paper, WhiteSpace (for meeting rooms)… These also exist. Others (RIP Sandbox's insane free coworking space plan) have since gone the way of Cobal. Check out our coworking tag in the directory for oodles and oodles of more places to work remotely.