Whether you're just looking for some desk space and internet access for the day or something larger but temporary to accommodate your (soon to be) million dollar start-up, Shanghai offers a decent range of coworking spaces to suit your needs. Here's a big list of some of the better and well-known coworking spaces in the city, and what they're offering.
Six years after launching, WeWork opened their first location in Shanghai. They plan to have three in total by the end of the year. The two-story Yanping Lu office is comprised of 500 seats and was pretty much rented out even before it opened. The office is about a 15-minute-walk from Jing'an Temple, with plenty of eateries and stores nearby. A lot of effort went into its interior design, which is heavily inspired by Shanghai culture and history.
Area: Jing'an, near Jing'an Temple.
Wifi: The member internet speed here is apparently a closely guarded secret. We spoke with over five staff members, all of whom were unwilling to share this information. We did check the guest WiFi: a meager 1.6Mbps.
Amenities: The place is spacious. Each floor consists a common area, a bar, open offices, private offices, and conference rooms of different sizes. And a working desk that provides printing/ scanning machine and paper cutting machine. Fridges and microwaves are available at the bars. The bathroom is really well-designed, too. With mouthwash and disposable cups available.
Sockets: Plenty of sockets beside each desk.
Food & Drinks: They offers free soft drinks, coffee, and beer from Boxing Cat at the bars. No snacks, though.
Service: Cordial and friendly. There's always someone at the front desk to help you if you need something.
Atmosphere: The venue is abundant in natural light, which is a nice touch. It streams through every office. The whole space still feels a bit compact; private offices sit quite closely to each other. They host regular social events as well. Great for those who are already members of WeWork overseas and prefer a convenient office environment with a trendy design.
Cost: The prices went down a little after we went. A dedicated desk starts from 2,783rmb/ month and 3,113rmb/ month for a private office.
In addition to being a coworking space, Xnode also bill themselves as a "start-up accelerator". As such, they offer opportunities to network and collaborate with other companies, as well as organize and host events for their clients to pitch their ideas to venture capitalists for funding. Xnode's a great option if in addition to an office solution, you're looking for in-roads into Shanghai's entrepreneurial community. They're opening a new space on the 17th floor of their Jing'an location in June and they have locations in Yangpu and Hongkou.
Area: Jing'an, near Jing'an Temple.
Hours: The shared cafe area is open from 9am to 6pm on weekdays. Access to the offices is 24/7.
WiFi Speed: The guest WiFi was around 1.7Mbps. The member WiFi averages around 10Mbps.
Amenities: They have meeting rooms from 80rmb an hour. There's a shared area with a cafe, lounge chairs, and standing tables. Printing is 1rmb per sheet for black and white and 2rmb a sheet for color prints.
Sockets: No sockets in the cafe area except for a couple corners, near the walls. Plenty if you purchase a monthly fixed desk.
Food & Drinks: The cafe offers Americano for 20rmb, lattes and cappuccinos for 25rmb, and a choice of imported coffee from Africa for 30rmb.
Service: On your first visit, they give you a tour of the entire space, teaching you about the different types of companies working there and what they offer. If you have problems, you can speak to the front desk, which offers both Chinese and English language service.
Atmosphere: The shared area, which has about 30 seats, is bustling with meetings, interviews, and people working outside their offices while drinking some coffee. Many small companies are currently occupying office space from industries like cosmetics, engineering, and software development.
Cost: Access to the shared cafe area is free if you drop in occasionally. If you need daily, 24/7 office use, you can get a dedicated desk from 1880rmb/month.
People Squared got its start as a coworking space in 2010. They now have several locations throughout the city. We checked out one of their central locations on Yongjia Lu. It's a six story townhouse that used to be occupied by Lohaus, another coworking space that closed last year.
Area: Xuhui, near Yongkang Lu.
Wifi: Around 7Mbps.
Amenities: Printing is only available to those with a monthly membership and costs two mao per page. They have only one bathroom on the bottom floor. Lockers are available if you get a membership.
Sockets: Yup. On the wall.
Food & Drinks: Just hot water.
Service: They only have a single staff person at the front desk, but that seems to be enough here.
Atmosphere: The place is mostly empty, but they say they've got people moving in soon. At the moment, the top floor is being rented out by a small company. Heat insulation and soundproofing isn't great -- it can get quite cold in here and if someone's phone goes off, you'll be sure to hear it even when separated by several stories.
Cost: They don't technically offer single day passes, but you can call their sales line and negotiate for one at a location that has seats available. The price shouldn't be more than 100rmb depending on the location. At Yongjia Lu, the price is 100rmb a day and 1,680rmb per month. It's suitable for a no frills working space to get stuff done.
Agora Space is essentially a few apartments that have been converted into an office and coworking space. The interiors are pretty sparse-looking, so you won't be holding client meetings here, but it's a fine spot if you're looking for a desk and internet at an affordable price.
Area: Xuhui, just west of Xujiahui.
Hours: Hot desks are available from 9am to 6pm everyday, and a fixed desk membership gets you 24/7 access.
Wifi: Fast. Around 150Mbps. Thumbs up.
Amenities: Real office chairs with back support and adjustable head rests. Printing and scanning is free as long as you aren't printing say, The Great Chinese Novel. There's only one bathroom -- an unrenovated apartment bathroom. Clean but basic.
Sockets: A ton of sockets on each desk, including ones that take US and Canadian plugs.
Food & Drinks: No food offered, but they do have free brewed coffee, water, and tea.
Service: Agora Space's service is probably the best on this list. The two girls at the front desk will help you print, make coffee, order food, schedule kuaidi deliveries, and basically help you as much as they can in an office assistant capacity.
Atmosphere: There are only about 20 seats. When we visited they were being occupied by freelancer professionals and a few of Agora Space's admin. The space is small, simple, and relaxed.
Cost: 168rmb per day for a hot desk, 468rmb for a one week pass, 808rmb for two weeks, and monthly fixed desks are 1,110rmb-1,460rmb.
Part of the naked Group -- the people behind popular Moganshan retreat, naked Stables -- naked Hub is a hip, well-designed coworking space that's already become something of a success story for the hospitality company. They now have several new locations: Jing'an, Hunan Lu, Hongqiao, and Century Avenue.
Area: Xuhui, two blocks from the IAPM mall.
Wifi: Around 20Mbps.
Amenities: The place is huge and spread out over two floors, with showers, a fridge, a microwave, filtered air, and free weekly massages.
Yes, that's right: weekly free massages.
Bathrooms are simple, large, and clean.
Sockets: Not a large selection of outlets and most are located under the tables. Sufficient enough, though.
Food & Drinks: They have two snack-bar vending machines. Coffee, tea, water, and Heineken beer are complimentary and free-flow.
Yes, that's right: free-flow beer.
Service: Security works 'round the clock and during work hours they have community managers that run the place, facilitating a communal working atmosphere between their clients. You can ask them for help with any difficulties you have with the space, and even to introduce you to other people working there.
Atmosphere: naked Hub has that California start-up vibe. It's hip and young, and brightly decorated. Currently, many small companies are occupying space, working in education, marketing, fashion, tech, and wellness, as well as miscellaneous freelancers. The good thing here is that you have opportunities to run into them in the large shared area. Great for meeting people if you're new to the city or if the freelancing lifestyle has you closed off a bit from your fellow human.
Cost: 300rmb per day, 1,800rmb per month for unlimited hot seat access, and 3,000rmb for a private office.
Sandbox3 is a large, ultra modern-looking, coworking space that offers a communal office that's entirely free to use. Yep, free. On your first visit, they require you to sign up with your personal ID and download their app. Then you then get issued a card that gives you 24/7 access to their facilities. The extras cost money -- when you want coffee, food, or a meeting room, you just pay through the app -- but the basic service is free. It's pretty cool, and they also have locations in Yangpu and Pudong. If you're looking for private office spaces, they rent those as well -- rooms for various company sizes from 300rmb per person, per month.
Area: Jing'an, near Nanjing Xi Lu subway station.
Wifi: Around 1.8Mbps. There are no options for faster speeds, so if you decide to purchase a private space here, you'll still be stuck with slow internet. They do allow you to put in your own line, though, if you decide to get a paid office.
Amenities: Currently, they do not offer any printing services. Meeting rooms can be rented from 50rmb an hour.
Sockets: Sockets abound; some even hang down from the ceiling.
Food & Drinks: An Americano coffee starts at just 8rmb. They also offer small cakes, sandwiches, salads, and more. All these must be ordered and paid for through their app.
Service: The front desk is located outside the main area, through the keycard-secured doors. Other than the staff in the cafe, there was no one the manage to space inside. It seemed people were pretty much taking care of themselves.
Atmosphere: On our visit, the clients here were mostly college students and small companies that don't have their own office spaces yet. The vibe is pretty hip, but because it is free, it is a more relaxed, non-professional atmosphere. You do get some loud conversations, people having conference calls on speaker phone, and laowais yelling across the room to their buddies.
Cost: Freeeeeeee. They also offer private offices from 1500rmb a month at their Sandbox3 locations and other office buildings in the city through their app.
BaseCo is a real estate company with apartments, offices, and retail locations around Shanghai. They have a coworking space on the first floor of their Anfu Lu building and office spaces above.
Area: Xuhui, near Changshu Lu subway station.
Hours: 9am to 9pm.
Wifi: Around 25Mbps. That's fast. However, BaseCo runs their own VPN through the router, therefore if the central VPN has issues, your access to the internet has issues. On our visit, no foreign websites were loading, and there were also issues with accessing China-based sites as well, e.g. Youku.
Amenities: Printing and scanning is 0.5rmb per page or 2rmb for color. They have a small cafe, where coffee starts at 15rmb. Lockers are provided if you get a fixed desk.
Sockets: Normal local sockets, averaging out to about five per person at the shared table.
Food & Drinks: The cafe offers Americano, espresso, and lattes. These are alright. They also have free coffee that tastes like brown water. That one's not alright.
Service: The two employees at the cafe also manage the coworking space. They had no solutions for the internet issues, nor were they aware of anyone else working to fix them. They only mentioned that they "should" probably change their VPN provider. Not helpful.
Atmosphere: The space has a very clean look to it, although the lighting is a bit blinding and the large windows have no views. It's one of the smaller spaces, with only a couple offices, which are currently taken by F&B and advertising companies.
Cost: 50rmb per hour, 200rmb per day, or 2400rmb a month for a fixed desk.
Regus is a major workplace corporation with offices in over 100 countries. You can purchase a inexpensive monthly membership that grants you unlimited access to their "business lounges" (aka, temporary work spaces) during weekday work hours. This includes the ones in places like the Jin Mao Tower or the Shanghai Tower when it opens.
Area: Pudong, Jin Mao Tower. That's pretty high profile.
Hours: The business lounge is open 9am to 6pm on weekdays. Offices are accessible 24/7.
Wifi: Around 17Mbps.
Amenities: The business lounge is relatively small. There are about 10 seats in total, including four small "pods" in the center of the room, which are basically little cubicles that let you focus and do some work. The front desk can help you with printing but it isn't cheap. Costs 1.98rmb per page for black and white, and 9.8rmb per page for color.
Sockets: Not a lot of sockets, but the socket in each pod is universal and seems to take most plugs including ones from the UK, the US, and most of Asia.
Food & Drinks: There's tea, water, and a small coffee machine.
Service: The front desk is manned at all times and, usually, there's three staff persons available to help you if you have any difficulties.
Atmosphere: The place feels high-end and expensive. The lounge was occupied primarily by locals who had office spaces there, working in finance-related companies.
Cost: 180rmb per month with a minimum six month contract that will get you into any business lounge in China (there are over 60 in Shanghai alone). For 380rmb per month with a minimum six month contract, you can get access to any of Regus' lounges in the world. Great option if your profession has you mobile and you do a lot of traveling, and working on the road. A single private office starts at 6,000rmb per month at their Jinmao location. If you plan to come here often, you may also want to purchase an 80rmb security card. Without it, you'll need to get Regus to contact Jinmao's front desk each time you go.
So... Where Should You Work?
All these spaces have different advantages and target different types of people. For startups, XNode seems like a good bet to get those collaborative juices flowing. If you have the money and want a nice, comfortable place to work from, go with Naked Hub. If you travel a lot and need a place to work on weekdays, Regus is a good choice. If you're a freelancer and want something cheap with fast internet, check out Agora Space. If you have no money at all, Sandbox3 is your spot.
Or you can just be that guy, who buys one coffee and camps out with a laptop at the local coffee shop. That's still a thing...