Coworking spaces and the sharing economy: Do you fit the bill?

The coworking or sharing economy continue to rise as more startups and small ideas take off. This may (or may not) also coincide with Singapore’s trend of redundancy and unemployment, where, frustrated but inspired individuals pivot towards managing their own destiny by venturing out on their own.

As for me, I’ve always liked working remotely. Back in the corporate world, I moved around indie cafes and Starbucks, working away on my laptop and a mobile phone with Whatsapp, company email and Skype to get in touch. It was liberating and far more creative than being stuck between 4 walls with office politics & gossips. Alas, that didn’t last long as boring people decided that I was having too much fun (but getting shit done) so I was chained to my desk and in the end, I left because, let’s face it you can’t tame the wild 😉

I’ve been working off coworking spaces since 2014 and these are my observation so far:

  • You need to know yourself and find the coworking space culture that fits
    • I love the community feel. A sucker for it. That vibe and connection is precious. I have been at coworking spaces where it’s so stiff and quiet, even breathing feels like an inconvenience to my neighbour. Eep! I am currently working in a place where I enjoy speaking to people and generally just saying “hey” to people I don’t know (get to know the barista and F&B service team helps you go a long way). Culture is key to helping you settle in to a new environment easily so take the time to really figure out what you want and need.
  • A community helps
    • I love knowing that I am part of a community where I can get perks, event invites, join after-work drinks and nibbles and the feeling of camaraderie that you get from being in an office. Subsequently, I also like the fact that I can choose to act on interactions, stay focused on my desk and allocate my time to work accordingly. Often in an office environment, this feels like a forced aspect especially when you have to meet deadlines; you have to make the effort to be social to be seen as a team member. In a coworking space, the community observes respect for one another and know when to create the possibility of an interaction and when to just mind your own business.
  • Budget is key
    • There are many bespoke solutions for everyone; fintech startups can work off Lattice80, women-centric businesses or woman wanting to work around other ladies can work at Woolf Works and family who wants to grow a business and ensure their young ones are minded in a conducive environment, just a door apart, can work off Trehaus. There are plenty of option for everyone but budget is key. As a business starting up, it’s important to know what you are willing to invest from the start. You have to figure out if 2/days a month working off a flexi table is fine or do you want to invest a bit more to get your own small chic office and a designer chair thrown in. Bear in mind, these fancy places and perks comes at a pretty price. I’d suggest you make use of the free trial passes that most of these coworking spaces offer and see how it fits your personality and your wallet.
  • Coworking and remote working is not for everyone
    • Ultimately, coworking spaces may not be for you and you will have to explore other options such as working in the library, a cafe or from home, if you are lucky to have a study set up. I have friends who tried coworking spaces and it turned them off. While it gives you regularity and draws a clear distinction between work and home, you  have to instill self-discipline or you may find a drawback from the many distraction. As I am typing this, the team behind me is having a heated and productive discussion. If you’re a clean freak or a germaphobe, shared spaces may not be for you too. I often wonder how frequent the table I place my laptop on is wiped clean (probably not – the onus is on you to clean after yourselves, adults!)

The benefits far outweighs the cons in my opinion but that’s me. I hope you can find a great place and space to work from. Free is a great currency and I’ve listed a place here in Singapore where you can work for free (don’t forget to pay it forward one day – karma is a bank we all need to fill up with good deeds).

Here’s Socially Amplified’s Recommended coworking spaces in Singapore:

  • Spacemob – Claymore and a new space opening up in Ascent
    • If you are a lite business, they have a $50/mth for 2 days of work. You get to enjoy the perks just like their other paying customer. I like that it’s smack right on Orchard road.
  • Scape Hubquarters –  One of the free coworking spaces in Singapore. The pros is that there are several real businesses running their operations there, cashing in on the free facility so you know you’re mixing with the right people. The drawback is on Friday, the environment can quickly be quite loud and distracting, with dancing troops practicing right outside the space. The other drawback is of course, abuse of the free internet sometimes.
  • Woolf Works – This is the dedicated coworking space for women. At time of writing, they are not accepting any new members.
  • Trehaus – I have been here before and dropped off my toddler and I found it lovely, especially the child-minding aspect. As an female founder and mother, I thrive knowing my child is being minded by qualified teachers and caregivers while I plan and work through my day. It’s also a nice break at lunch where I can spend time with my toddler before diving back into work.
  • Working Capitol – Do you like buzz? This is the place for you. It’s a hot bed of creativity and inspiration. Not for everyone though as the distraction can be quite overwhelming sometimes. If you’re at the Keong Saik space, be sure to check out the entire stretch of good food – from local duck rice and delicious pork belly to some of the hippest cafes. You’ll never go hungry here (light wallet maybe!).
About the author

Female founder of Socially Amplified, a marketing consultancy. We work with businesses who want to build a business and help equip, empower and inspire back-to-work mothers. When I am not online, I like spending time with my little girl and being silly with her. I firmly believe in women empowerment and advancement and mothers in leadership roles. I am on Twitter as @foliobylisa

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