Singapore Changing the Coworking Padagrim

Singapore Launches a Free Coworking Space

Aerial_view_of_the_Civic_District,_Singapore_River_and_Central_Business_District,_Singapore_-_20080518

Singapore’s Vertex Holdings is launching a coworking space with a simple twist: it’s free.

The space, called Technopreneur Circle, aims to be a community hub. Vertex Holdings Manager Poh Ee Ling stated in an interview that the project started “because [their] chairman had a vision to create a platform to connect the community.” The company hopes that Technopreneur Circle will become a defining force in Singapore’s startup scene, the first place that comes to mind when people think about coworking.

The amenities are humble, although there’s little to complain about given that it’s free. For many workers, the basics are enough; free beer and fun pastimes make for a more exciting atmosphere, but at the end of the day, you’re paying for the space in order to get work done.

What Technopreneur Circle lacks in amenities, it makes up for in location. The space is located at the heart of Singapore in the Raffles City Tower. The downtown location is sure to attract a variety of city-dwellers across different disciplines.

But it’s fair to wonder: why is Vertex doing this?

Raffles_city_exterior

Not only will Technopreneur Circle not bring in profits, but it also won’t even cover its real estate costs. Truth be told, we don’t know much besides the official statement that the space exists to help build community.

Presumably it fits into Vertex’s business plan somewhere down the line—brand awareness and consumer goodwill are never a bad thing. Perhaps Vertex plans to use the community they’re building to deepen their connections and eventually bring in money. Either way, it seems like an indirect process that won’t affect tenants much. For the time being, it looks like the company does not plan to monetize Technopreneur Circle, which is good news for the early tenants who can’t afford a full-priced coworking space.

If this model works, the future of coworking is bright. A big gap in the industry right now is the fact that prices are only going to grow. The concept of coworking sounds great, but if only venture-funded startups can afford the spaces, their value is limited.

On the flip side, if large developers are able to “sacrifice” a space to build community rather than generate cash, new and unique workers will flock to the space—workers who may not have considered coworking before. So long as developers can leverage this newfound community, the cycle will continue and coworking’s influence on the workplace will grow.