Nan Tohchoodee takes a look at the rise of co-working spaces in Bangkok
Have an idea for a killer new business but put off by hiring costs, production costs, the price of raw materials, etcetera? Product or service, whatever the nature of your enterprise, you’ll have to put down a lot of money to make an impact in the field, and if running your fledgling business from home isn’t an option, you’ll first have to find a place to set up shop.
Unfortunately, the cost of renting or renovating an office, above all else, is the most prohibitive aspect to your business turning a profit. However, don’t despair because there’s a new game in town, a trend that’s mitigating buyer remorse and the office rental blues: co-working spaces.
For entrepreneurs and start-up businesses, the concept of a “co-working space” has changed the playing field. Since the turn of the century, the world economy has gradually shifted from industry- to knowledge-based, and with that change has come a new way of looking at work. Today, major companies that are “with it,” especially tech companies like Apple and Google, have adopted informal working environments – environments in which ideas are pitched left and right, communication flows naturally, and no design is too silly to be considered.
A co-working space is, simply put, a work environment in which each person, or different groups of people undertake independent tasks in a shared, common space. Unlike a typical office, you might find workers or entrepreneurs from a dozen different industries working in the same building, or even the same room – writers, coders, fashion designers, PR teams: everyone is welcome in a co-working space. “They have a bit of a university library vibe,” says Clay Hemmerich, an associate editor in Bangkok.
Thanks to a professional but laid-back setting, coworking spaces allow companies and individuals to get work done without feeling as if they’re stuck in an office. But a co-working space doesn’t simply provide a blank room and office tools such as printing and presentation services – it also fosters a sense of community. “They encourage employers to give their best performance, since you’re sharing the same table. They wouldn’t be [great] for people who want total silence or need total privacy to think, though,” says Kornpat Pawakranond, a freelance art director and assistant film director.
Take Hubba, for example, the first recognized coworking space in Bangkok. Established during the floods that paralyzed Bangkok in October 2011, Hubba provided a lifeline to companies and employees who didn’t have a place to go. Now, some five years later, it remains one of the city’s leading co-working communities. Located in Ekkamai, the epicentre of Bangkok’s start-up scene, the venue regularly hosts events, such as writing workshops and digital classes for tech-driven entrepreneurs, which unite like-minded professionals. Other perks here include the Pah Creative Space, which features abundant resources for designers, from a library to drafting tables and a 3-D printer – there’s even a punching bag for those who really need to let off some steam or beat out an idea.
Creative types and travellers alike are making tracks to Oneday: Forward, a 24-hour co-working space created by Casa Lapin. From its roots in a small back-alley shop on Thonglor 13, it has expanded to Sukhumvit 49 and the hip Ari neighbourhood; now, the founders are opening their latest hostel-working space-café on Sukhumvit soi 26.
“The idea behind Oneday: Forward is about having a perfect day,” says Yiwa A. Voravudhi, GM and co-founder of the project. “We thought about essential activities that our customers do in one day, which, besides eating and relaxing, is working. While working in a coffee shop might inspire you, sometimes you need a dedicated work space in order to concentrate.”
Beyond basic daily rental, Oneday: Forward offers a range of packages that cater to all makes and models of modern workers—there’s even a 2-hour option for quickie sessions and a self-serve coffee bar for a caffeine kick when you need it. “Our goal is to create an intimate and creative working environment for young entrepreneurs,” says Voravudhi. “Increasingly, people are shifting away from working a 9-5 day at the office to freelancing, so there is a lot of demand for creative co-working spaces in Bangkok.”
Located on Sukhumvit 63 near Hubba, a new venue called Ma.D Hub has created a co-working space for socialites. With a credo of being “the space for change,” Ma.D Hub has urged companies and self-starters to share ideas through events that are geared toward social change. “We designed Ma.D Hub with the goal of uniting a network of socially conscious people who want to give back to their communities,” says Preekamol Chantaranijakorn, founder and owner. “We believe each entrepreneur, whether a businessman, artist, or student, can create lasting friendships and networks here, and together they can ‘do good’ and promote social change.”
Some of Ma.D Hub’s most successful workshops to date have included Tech4chage, a seminar focused on the manifold ways technology can help forge a brighter future for global communities. Ma.D Hub has also supported local volunteering programs, offered consultations and counselling to start-up businesses, and co-created events with other local brands like Orn the Road Food Truck and Moon Seeker Gallery. Ma.D Hub is more than a place to go to get some work done. It’s a thriving community of go-getters.
As start-ups and entrepreneurs increasingly shape the business world, co-working spaces are taking root. Beyond reducing the burden of office maintenance costs, these cutting-edge, collaborative meeting points also provide freelancers and digital nomads work environments a world away from isolated home offices and coffee shops. Whether your medium is the pen and pad or wireless mouse and MacBook, one of Bangkok’s burgeoning coworking spaces no doubt has what it takes to help you launch into the future.
Key co-working spaces in Bangkok
19 Soi Ekkamai 4, Sukumvit 63 Rd, Prakanong Nua, Wattana
0 2 714 3388
• ONEDAY: FORWARD BY CASA LAPIN
51 Sukhumvit Soi 26, Khlong Tan, Khlong Toei
0 2108 8855
• MA.D HUB FOR SOCIAL ENTREPRENEURS
Sukhumvit 63 Ekkamai Soi 4
08 9333 3248
• THE HIVE BANGKOK
46/9 Soi Sukhumvit 49, Khlong Ton Nua, Wattana
02 662 6062
• 63 WORKING SPACE
1323/2 Sukhumvit Rd, Phrakanong Nua, Wattana
02 392 5961 3, 09 4493 3518
139 Pan Road, Sethiwan Tower, Silom, Bangrak
0 2266 6222
• CLUSTER OFFICE
S.S.P Tower (16) Soi Sukhumvit 63, Khlong Tan Nuea, Wattana
08 7444 7416, 09 8585 2095