There are more and more coworking spaces opening up all over the region. Some are more casual whilst others more corporate, some cater to startups still in their infancy and others specifically cater to women. Basically, there's a coworking space for everyone.
But let's be honest, when you look a little bit closer, lots of coworking spaces have more similarities than differences - they all have WiFi, a place to sit, free coffee (for the most part), and people. So what is the defining element, or the "it" factor, that makes some coworking spaces really shine. Or in other words, what is the factor that some coworking spaces forget about. The answer: personality, aka the 1% that truly makes a coworking space a coworking space and not just another office space disguised as a coworking space.
So let's dive in to what we see as some of the factors that make up coworking culture.
Daily Dose of Coffee
Colony, Kuala Lumpur
Yes, most coworking spaces already offer coffee, but we're not just talking about any ordinary coffee. Having local artisanal coffee, or even a stall run by a coffee shop, in a coworking space can make a tremendous difference. It not only provides that caffeine kick that some members need to get through the day, but it also acts as a social lubricant - as people walk over to the kitchen to get their daily dose or sip their coffee in the communal area, it creates a natural way for members to talk to one another. Even having popup coffee stalls or taste-testing sessions to find everyone's favorite flavor, can establish connections between members, the community managers, and the space itself.
Quality over Design
Investing in good furniture, not just cool furniture, is key. Of course if they look nice it's an added bonus, but if members can't get any work done because their back constantly hurts then what's the point. It's also important to have different types of furniture. For instance, at working desks there should be well-made, comfortable, task chairs. In other words, it's all about lumber support - an underrated chair-feature. In more communal areas, having more lounge-like seating can help encourage casual communication between members.
Clock In, Manila
Community Managers are the quintessential heartbeat of any coworking space, so hiring the right person is vital. A basic requirement: love people. If they don't love talking to people, then they won't be able to find out what members do or need. This hinders their ability to connect members to each other, thus defeating the purpose of a coworking space. They're also able to effortlessly make the space feel like home to its members: a place where everyone is comfortable enough to start conversations, ask for help, collaborate. They greet members with a smile when they first enter the doors, remember their names, even think of things that would be helpful to members that maybe they didn't realize themselves.
Touches of Domesticity
Since coworking spaces are intended to make people feel comfortable, it only makes sense to add little knick knacks around the space to make it feel more cozy. Plus, they act as great icebreakers between members. We've seen some spaces have coffee table books around for members to read, others have collectibles spread around, others even have full bars. Even something as simple as adding pillows to the chairs and sofas makes a world of difference. Any little details that show off the space's personality, make it memorable, and a comfortable place to come work, will make people want to come back.
So the moral of the story? You can have the nicest space designed by a world-famous architect with the coolest tech features, but at most these will just draw members in, they won't guarantee that they'll come back. Just like with going on dates, sure looks will attract you initially, but it's the other person's personality that will make you want that second, third, fourth date.
Browse our selection of coworking spaces around Southeast Asia and find the perfect one for you!
Originally published December 26, 2017. Last updated July 12, 2018.