By KUPLUTHAI PUNGKANON
POPULAR with anyone whose work relies heavily on the Internet as well as with frequent travellers who value being able to work no matter where they find themselves, co-working spaces have become the offices of choice for start-ups and the self-employed.
Local supply has more or less kept up with demand but now two of the largest co-working operators from Singapore are attempting to change the way people feel about work with the launch of The Great Room and JustCo.
“The prediction is that by 2030 some 30 per cent of office space and commercial real estate will be devoted to co-working,” says Jaelle Ang, co-founder and chief executive of the Great Room.
“Thailand has just started and its co-working business currently stands at maybe two percent. That’s a long way to grow to 30 per cent, meaning there are a lot of opportunities. Singapore is just ahead at three per cent and the US is at five per cent. So it’s getting exciting. My expectation is that it will be very fast in Thailand and that’s why we’ve come here early with a very good partner and landlord.”
The Great Room takes inspiration from the world’s best offices, luxury hotels and business clubs and has put considerable effort into changing the way its members feel about work since its successful launch in June 2016. It now has spaces in three prime Singapore CBD locations and in Thailand occupies just under 2,800 square metres across two floors at the newly built Gaysorn Tower in the heart of downtown Bangkok.
Designed in collaboration with Michael Fiebrich Design, The Great Room at Gaysorn Tower is sophisticated and luxurious, boasting plenty of natural light as well as terrific views of Bangkok’s vibrant cityscape. There is space for private focused work and corporate entertaining settings, a variety of meeting rooms and communal nooks for what it calls “casual collisions for grown-ups”.
The business club and co-working space is structured by a layout made up of “streets” and intimate spaces. The atmosphere is warm and inviting and brings to life what The Great Room terms “the new corporate neutral”. The marble floor, made up of eight different types of stones, creates varying intensities and the curved timber walls, dark timber desks, fresh celadon hues and ambient lighting make it businesslike yet relaxing.
“The Great Room is the heart of the house, where members of the family spend time, It is very much part of your life, both to work and play. I think the co-working space will be something that Thais will take to and love,” Ang continues.
“A high level of technology infrastructure and design is very important in nurturing the creative spirit of start-ups. We always work with a hotel designer rather than a workplace designer because they understand the technical needs in the workplace and are able to combine this with comfort and energy.
“We have great brands and services from the hotel business, but we never use them in the office environment where we spent at least eight hours of our days,” says Ang, who has lived in Bangkok for the last eight years.
“This is how we started. We want to create the Four Seasons of co-working.”
The Great Room experience begins at the Drawing Room, where first impressions are formed, and rapport built with like-minded people. It is also the perfect backdrop for evening cocktails and large-scale chats. Gatherings of anything between six to 120 people can be accommodated in the various meeting spaces, namely the State Room, an elegant boardroom for 14, the Studio, which can take up to 50 people, and the Study for groups of four.
Hot desks and hot offices are available for members who like to work alone or with perhaps with one or two others.
Ang emphasises the importance of community networking, saying that the openness of the space encourages grabbing a coffee and chatting with other members.
“We believe that the lighting and even the floor tiles affect your mood, even if you don’t notice it, and make it easier to say hello. It facilitates those ‘casual collisions’. We enlarge on that by installing a coffee machine that isn’t automatic. Many fruitful conversations start at the coffee machine. It’s our job to design the perfect backdrop,” she says.
JustCo co-working space, which spans two floors and 3,150 sqm of AIA Sathorn Tower and will soon have another branch at Capital Tower in All Seasons Place on Wireless Road, has a totally different ambience. It boasts vibrant interiors along with quirky and playful elements. The design incorporates industrial furnishing and raw materials, communal tables and swing chairs, with pops of vivid colours highlighting the cosy corners.
Additional highlights include an in-house cafe for a morning jolt or a late afternoon pick-me up, a futsal and golf corner for members to relieve stress, quiet pods designed for personal space, as well as hot-desk areas, meeting studios, event spaces and more.
This co-working space aims to build up a community of the like-minded through various events and collaborations to connect businesses of all shapes and sizes.
“We have partnered with Sansiri to establish our presence in Bangkok, which is our first step into regional expansion,” explains its founder and chief executive Kong Wan Long.
“Thailand is one of the key business hubs in the region and continues to show steady economic growth. Right now we have about 20 centres and by the end of 2020, we hope to have about 100 all across Asia.
“Local and international individuals and companies alike can now benefit from JustCo’s co-working space in Bangkok, allowing us to continue providing resources, networks and connectivity to our ever-growing community,” he enthuses.
Founded in 2015, JustCo is Singapore’s largest premium co-working space provider and aims to continually challenge and redefine collaborative working.
“Co-working space is very popular in Singapore and any good building has at least one co-working space provider,” he continues. “It’s already a mature industry compared to Thailand. I see Thailand’s co-working space market like that of Singapore three years ago. The main reasons for sharing are flexibility and cost. If you are alone or are starting a business with another person, finding an office is difficult so you end up working at home. Co-working is hassle-free and offers contracts of one month to as long as three years. And if you choose to set up your start-up here, you will be mingling with other creative people. We are also targeting multinational companies. One of our strategies is to host events that everybody can join and be inspired.”
Whether or not co-working spaces do live up to expectations and take up 30 per cent of all available office space by 2030, one thing is certain: work cohabitation does encourage cross-pollination of ideas and connections, bringing people together for meaningful collaborations and business opportunities.
SPACE TO DREAM
- The Great Room charges Bt950 for a day pass per person to Bt15,000 per month per person for Dedicated offices. See more at www.TheGreatRoomOffices.com
- JustCo locations start at Bt990 per day for JustDesk Basic to Bt6,900 per person per month for JustDesk Dedicated. See more at www.JustcoGlobal.com.