In what promises to be a world first, naked Hub is opening up its spaces on a by-minute basis with a hot desk seat and full access to a hub’s facilities for RMB 15 an hour, including community services and free tea, coffee–and beer.

As of today, casual co-workers in Shanghai can use the new naked Hub GO service via the naked Hub app or WeChat mini program to find nearby hubs with availability then scan a QR code at the entrance to access the building. A whistle blows and the timer starts. When the work is done, scanning again on the way out sounds a clocking off whistle and a bill is generated and settled like a Didi ride via WeChat or Alipay. No deposit required, and no need to interact with reception staff.

Naked Hub GO billing
Bill generated on check out of a naked Hub, down to the minute. (Image: naked Hub)

Naked Hub has grown through investment and mergers to become the largest premium coworking space in Asia and believes it is the first network anywhere in the world to launch a truly on demand service. We asked naked Group’s Chief Innovation Officer, Dominic Penaloza, why he thought China is the first place to see this happening:

“I believe we are past the tipping point of China becoming an innovative nation that can export innovations to the world, and I’m proud to view our Shanghai-born local company naked Hub as part of this movement, and naked Hub GO as a very exciting innovation that could be a game changer on a global scale.”

China is seeing a growing trend of companies based in the online world shifting into bricks and mortar. “Tencent is very busy pioneering the offline to online use cases of WeChat Mini Programs,” said Penaloza, “Leveraging this ecosystem, naked Hub GO is available on both WeChat Mini Program and native mobile application.”

Naked Hub Go location search
Search function for seat availability at coworking spaces. (Image: naked Hub)

When asked about whether naked Hubs could become hangouts (free coffee and beer for RMB 15 an hour when a Starbucks sets you back RMB 30) and whether it would need policing, Penaloza was positive about the service: “It’s potentially disruptive to the Third Space market, opening an entirely new segment of users for naked Hub. Controls… we have existing community rules–no pyramid selling, etc–but aside from that, no other controls. We are curious to see new user cases, e.g. off-peak-hours such as evening or night.” In other recent new ventures, the company is also moving into building management.

Shanghai is the testbed and the service will be refined and released in other areas “in the next several weeks” according to Penaloza.

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Frank Hersey

Frank Hersey is a Beijing-based tech reporter who's been coming to China since 2001. He tries to go beyond the headlines to explain the context and impact of developments in China's tech sector. Get in...

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