The Space Is Right

by Anton D. Javier
Photography by Chino Sardea
04 Jun 2018

Not all co-working spaces are made equal. We take a closer look at two new properties that have something for social butterflies who thrive in a buzzing, collaborative space, as well as a property that’s quieter and more private perfect for introverts

All it takes is one effective business idea in Singapore and everyone runs away with it to the point of oversaturation — cafés, frozen yogurt stalls, pop-up weekend markets, and co-working spaces.

Since the opening of The Working Capitol at Keong Saik Road three years ago, it shoved the modern co-working space concept to the fore and every other independent company, start-up, and creative outfit wanted to be part of one — what with competitive rents, creative flexibility, powwow sessions with like-minded professionals, as well as regular happy hour events open to all tenants.

Once the competition became fiercer, some developers took a step back and re-evaluated the growing scene. Armed with questions like “What do tenants really want?” and “How does the surrounding precinct dictate the community’s growth?”, it allowed them to approach the future of the business with a clearer vision that results in something that really works.


Great Things Ahead

“If we know with laser focus who we are creating for and start with the right questions, we end up in a very different place than beanbags, hustlin’ slogans, and beer-pong,” exclaims Ms. Jaelle Ang, Co-founder and CEO of The Great Room.

The newest branch, The Great Room at Centennial Tower, is perhaps an amalgamation of the lessons learned from when the first The Great Room successfully opened in 2016 at One George Street. “You could say the Centennial Tower location is a version 2.0 that brings with it the best of co-working and hospitality,” says Ms. Ang. “What we’ve learned, apart from the companies and businesses that need the space and want to share a space because they’re fiscally responsible, is that there is a lot of value being in a like-minded community. We have people who joined us because the founders or senior management want to be where the action is and where things are happening.”

Ms. Ang hit the nail on the head when she said that great design attracts a like-minded community. But luxe interiors and a 360-degree wrap-around view of downtown Singapore aside, people choose The Great Room because they are looking for more than just a place to work. “They are looking for purpose and fulfillment in life too. They feel great chemistry and connection with the people around them and it is inspiring. The environment lets them be at their best because our members are leaders in a certain way — whether it’s in their companies, thought leadership, in their lifestyle choices, and even design and taste.”

Ms. Ang further reveals, “We are very intentional about growing. There is a general demand for co-working spaces, but at the same time, we are focused on addressing our target market and fulfilling their needs. That means we will grow, but will only do that when everything comes together. That means right location, working with the right team, the right partner in terms of the developer, and I think that partnership mindset is very important. Because if you want to create a precinct, or trying to place-make, you need a whole community to rally around you, to galvanize around a cause, and to make things happen.”

Singapore is just the beginning for The Great Room, and the Centennial Tower office is a key milestone in their growth strategy. This year, the company is strategically growing and nurturing its high value community and network across Asia, so by the end of 2018, The Great Room will serve a growing community of over 700 companies in technology, finance, lifestyle, and media across seven locations in four cities, namely Bangkok, Hong Kong, Jakarta, and Singapore.


The Goal Is To Get Things Done

While the majority of co-working space tenants thrive in an environment that’s all about community, collaboration, and engagement, there are a select few who, more often than not, can do without it.

This is where SILO comes in — an office by introverts, for introverts, which is aimed at businesses that want to focus on getting work done.

Co-founders Mr. Y.C. Teo (who was one of the founding members of The Working Capitol) and Ms. Stacy Tan explain that a lot has changed since the blow-up of co-working spaces globally, and the market has evolved this basic notion into something more sophisticated that will continue to grow and dominate how work or living spaces are utilized. According to the detail-obsessed duo, they wanted to create a co-working space with a unique user narrative for the members, and also felt that some businesses would appreciate a concept that zeroed in on privacy, discretion, and luxury.

“Our aims are more sophisticated in nature,” reveals Mr. Teo. “What we want our members to feel is that they are being transported into an unfamiliar environment that exudes a sense of serenity and privacy, allowing them to alter and improve the way they work within their teams. We took great care to study and apply the types of materials used in all aspects of the space, or create sound design and scent to accentuate this peaceful unfamiliarity.”

But how exactly does SILO’s bustling Chinatown location go hand in hand with the peaceful unfamiliarity?

“Chinatown captures the imagination for most people – as it did with ours – with its strong history and culture,” shares. Ms. Tan. “We wanted to contrast the chaotic nature of Chinatown with a sense of calm in the earthly interiors; stepping into SILO feels like you’re cut off from the outside world. The common spaces like the corridors are warm and welcoming and a bit closed off, which soothes and calms you. Your journey then opens up into your office, which is brighter and sleeker – a refresh for the senses so you feel ready to get work done.”