Coworking: Into The Age Of Entrepreneurship

COWORKING: MORE THAN A SPACE

Coworking is a rather new concept here in Sarawak but across the world, it has seen explosive growth. In the past 6 years, coworking spaces around the world have quintupled, with the number of members seeing similar exponential growth.

The reason for this growth is that coworking is increasingly seen not just as a modern-day working style but an innovative work culture where communities are formed, and collaborations are encouraged.

It is a growing movement worldwide where entrepreneurs, freelancers, innovators, business owners and creatives can come together in this participatory culture that connects businesses and individuals.

Coworking: Into The Age Of Entrepreneurship

1. Workcentral (Mongolia) 2. Iskandar Space (Johor) 3. The Wave (Hong Kong) 4. Paper + Toast (Kuala Lumpur)

 

Coworking, as a working culture, is challenging the conventional style of work. While the usual office settings embrace privacy, coworking spaces promote openness. Desks and amenities such as printers, reception and pantry are all shared between the coworkers - individuals of separate entities. There will still be a separate zone in the coworking space for meetings and discussion to take place so as not to disturb other coworkers: this gives a good balance for those who need both collaboration and deep focus to be successful at what they do. The space itself promotes an openness that is in line with the culture of trust within the team, be it with time management or with productivity. Coworkers of various backgrounds in different industries have the freedom to work at their pace and interact with one another as they like. Need a break from staring at the screen? Met a new coworker who shares the same passion? Go ahead and spend hours chatting away in the pantry without being judged by anyone!

Coworking spaces are perfect for budding entrepreneurs and startups with minimal capital as the rental is much more affordable than renting the whole office space. All they need to work are their computers as the space will provide a desk, a comfortable environment and most importantly - good internet connectivity. They will not need to spend on the renovation to set up basic amenities as coworking spaces are already equipped with air-conditioning, office furniture and equipment, washrooms, pantry and reception.

Coworking: Into The Age Of Entrepreneurship

5. Scoopoint (Penang) 6. @CAT (Penang) 7. Impact Hub (Jakarta) @ Coworking 8. iCube Innovation (Kuching) 9. Link (Bangkok)

 

Ultimately, no matter how well designed, the office layout is never the main ingredient of a coworking space. Rather, it is the groups of individuals who occupy the spaces that make coworking space truly distinctive.

Spend a day visiting a coworking space and speak to the people there: you will find a pool of talent all in one location, using their skillsets to enrich the community they are in. These experts of various industries are basically your access to numerous business resources. That said, you have to network to tap into this community advantages.

Coworking: Into The Age Of Entrepreneurship

10. Hubud (Bali) 11. The Wave (Hong Kong)

 

COWORKING AND STARTUP: THE PERFECT MATCH

The coworking community helps and supports its own: “We’ve got your back and we want to see your business flourish, so we guide you where possible.”

It is a culture that is on the rise across the globe; so much so that coworking space has become an industry on its own! One of the biggest industry player – “WeWork” (coworking space originating in New York, USA) has an estimated market valuation of as much as USD20 billion, as of writing.

A key trend that has emerged out of coworking spaces such as Galvanize, The Alley, and Rise NYC is the integration of incubators into their business development strategies. By offering a space and an environment with resources, they can cater and retain members who are launching startups.

Today, we are seeing large corporations exploring to move their teams into coworking spaces, thereby making it easier for them to stay on top of technological innovations and tap into top talents. They want to keep an ear to the ground when it comes to potential disruptions in their industry, and they need to closely monitor potential acquisition targets. Renting space in coworking spaces can help them check all the boxes - attract top talent, monitor competition, and find acquisition targets.

Coworking: Into The Age Of Entrepreneurship

Google Business Group Kuching @ iCube Innovation

 

A good example: in 2016, Barclays (multinational banking institution) launched a fintech-focused accelerator space in Flatiron NYC called “Rise”. Partnering with Techstars, Rise offers three floors of membership coworking space, a 100-seats auditorium, meeting rooms, as well as video and podcast recording facilities to help innovative startups to collaborate, experiment and grow.

With the growing global trend of coworking spaces, we see a rise of entrepreneurs and startups as the economy crosses into a digital economy. Governments in South East Asian countries have discerned coworking as an invaluable way to increase entrepreneurship as well.

Coworking spaces serve as a touchpoint for startups and investors who are looking to connect with each other. The collaborative nature fosters a support system for budding startups to grow. On top of the creative space, it is the development programs and networking events that are often organized in a coworking space as well.

Techstars (founded in Boulder Colorado in 2006) is a worldwide network helping entrepreneurs to succeed through accelerator programs, funding and mentorship. One of Techstars’s most renown event - Startup Weekend is held in over 700 cities and 150 countries worldwide. They are run by local organizers to provide mentorships and support for those who want to start a startup. Through this weekend event, entrepreneurs go through 54 intensive hours of guidance from mentors, investors, cofounders and sponsors. Several Startup Weekends have already been organized by iCube Innovation in Kuching, Miri and Sibu; discovering talents and witnessing the growth of aspiring entrepreneurs.

To put things into perspective on coworking, it is more than just a physical space. It is a community and a culture enabling individuals to come together to share, collaborate, engage and network amongst one another. The diverse environment and talents give way to the onset of new creative and innovative ideas. It differs from the conventional office space as we know with its touch of freedom and objectivity. Just like the nature of a startup, the concept of coworking aims to create constructive disruption. We see corporations gradually stepping away from the monotonous workplace and begin to adopt the coworking culture, as there is always someone new to network with and new innovations to explore. At the end of the day, the coworking lifestyle seeks to create synergy amongst people who work independently but share a working space. Furthermore, coworking communities also bring about an import of expertise from digital nomads and allows the retention of expertise.

As Sarawak is heading towards a digital economy, coworking would be ideal in developing startups and companies as the use of digital technology is one of the defining factors in its transformation. There are over 70 coworking spaces in Malaysia and 3 of them are located here in Kuching, Sarawak. Slowly but surely, the concept will continue to grow.

Coworking: Into The Age Of Entrepreneurship

CubeTalk Specials @ iCube Innovation

 

References:

socialworkplaces.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/12/Coworking-Europe-2016-GCS-2017.pdf

www.coworker.com/lab/the-corporate-coworking-trend/


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