Co-working Dominates Shanghai in 2018

I’ve loved the office building where AllSet Learning has been based for the past 6 years. How can you not love a building like this??

AllSet Learning's new office building

I like the natural light and high ceilings, the white walls and natural wood, the lack of fluorescent lighting and cubicles, the “indie but professional” vibe. But recently the government decided it wants the building back, and since technically it’s zoned for education, they can take it back. So it’s time to find a new office!

What’s really striking is how co-woking spaces have totally taken over Shanghai and, unfortunately, driven up office rental rates. Currently the main co-working spaces are:

That last one is a new one, but it seems to have gone all in on co-working, buying up locations all over Shanghai (and several other cities) in a short amount of time.

The co-working space competition is really heating up, and I’ve definitely felt that as we looked around for office space. Co-working spaces charge by the “seat” rather than the actual space provided, and they are generally overpriced (they try to justify it with free coffee or “member-only activities,” as if the main point of renting an office isn’t space to work), but they really are squeezing out a lot of the more traditional options. It used to be much easier to find office space in a small building for a decent price. It’s still not impossible, but the landscape is changing fast.

So AllSet Learning decided to go with Kr Space. Since it’s new, the rates are very competitive, and we were able to choose a larger office than you typically get at one of these places. While I originally wanted to stay away from co-working spaces, I like the location, and Kr Space is more focused on providing a good working environment for individual offices than some of the others.

One downside to moving into a co-working space is that there’s way less storage space. But I’ve come to recognize that one of the reasons co-working has taken off is that most modern offices really don’t need to store a ton of stuff. Most records should be electronic these days, so a company shouldn’t need walls and walls of shelves and cabinets. So we’re taking this opportunity to slim down, and one of the unfortunate results is that we need to unload a ton of books. Some of the Chinese textbooks in our library are showing their age, and some we just never use. So it’s time to weed out some books.

I’ve advertised on WeChat, but if you’re looking to pick up some free Chinese study materials, come by our old office this week (before we move on Nov. 10, 2018). We also have some Mandarin Companion inventory for sale (imported from the U.S., but at 100 RMB per book still cheaper than on


John Pasden

John is a Shanghai-based linguist and entrepreneur, founder of AllSet Learning.


  1. “they try to justify it with free coffee or “member-only activities,” as if the main point of renting an office isn’t space to work”

    That’s not the point of an office. For a lot of Millenials today, their office space is an important part of their identity. Having things like cheese tastings and thought leader panels in the office is exhilarating. Work isn’t everything that an office offers, and if that’s all you’re offering, you’re going to lose out on the best global talents. Team culture is important.

    It’s something the younger generation understands, but that I wouldn’t expect the older bosses to get. To them, offices are dull places to work.

  2. Paul Nolan Says: November 9, 2018 at 7:07 am

    Hi John,

    I’ll be in shanghai for a month next April – where would you recommend for a few days a week type thing do any of them do short term day rates?


    • Hmmm, that’s tricky. I’ve asked the admin of our building for you, and they do months as the smallest unit of service. It’s all in Chinese, but if you can read it, you can find them on WeChat. Otherwise I recommend you get in touch with some of the other companies in my list. I’d say that Naked Hub is your best bet (but not the cheapest).

  3. James Theron Says: January 7, 2019 at 4:50 am

    No more old factories like in the old CPod days? 😉

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