South East Asia Coworking – The New Wave of Work
Southeast Asia: Hottest New Coworking Cities
Working in paradise isn’t so bad when the space includes an organic cafe, garden, and spa. From Bali, Indonesia to Ho Chi Minh in Vietnam, cities across southeast Asia are rapidly swelling with coworking spaces that offer a range of amenities in paradise locales. With Wi-Fi limited in select places in Asia compared to the United States, coworking spots offer workers a more affordable option for internet access, alongside community feeling and a designated workspace. A large component of many spaces include guidance for entrepreneurs, specifically in tech. While Thailand and the Philippines don’t automatically bring to mind work, office spaces in large cities are quickly expanding to becoming some of the most up-and-coming places for the coworking trend.
Currently, Thailand is host to 17 coworking spaces in five different cities; at 1.2 times the size of California, it is the 20th-most-populated country in the world. In 2015, Thailand was voted the number one travel destination by TripAdvisor. A large coworking spaces in Thailand is the Hive, located in Bangkok, which boasts a rooftop garden and bar; the Hive’s main branch is located in Hong Kong. Bangkok’s first coworking space for tech and startup companies, Hubba, offers three types of pass packages, and remains one of the most popular spaces in Thailand’s capital for work space.
According to the Ministry of Transport, in 2013 Vietnam had a record 90 million inhabitants and 37 million registered motorbikes. Traffic is cited as some of the worst in the world and motorbikes outnumber cars over 18:1. Perhaps that’s why Start Saigon, a local favorite and value workplace, offers free motorbike pricing as one of its amenities. Besides parking, Start hosts workshops and social events designed to be pertinent to entrepreneurs, startups and designer members, who can choose between reserving a seat, a dedicated desk, or an entire office.
One of the most luxe coworking spaces in Ho Chi Minh is Egg Agency, which can tick off spa, gym, pool, and bar from its accommodations list. The space is looking to expand to Singapore and London locations, and acts as a mixture of a coworking space and an accelerator.
For the foodie, coworking at WORK Saigon is the answer. With a monthly package, members receive 20% off food and drinks from the professional coffee bar — local beans are roasted in-house by the head barista — as well as free Friday breakfasts, a private locker, and private seat. Anyone who fears commitment can simply make a food or drink purchase, which comes with a free day pass to the work space. Bonus: the space offers a full kitchen, swimming pool, and garden.
Over the course of this year, the Department of Science and Technology’s Information and Communications Tech Office (DOST-ICTO) is implementing a project entitled “Free Wi-Fi Internet Access in Public Places”. This project is intended to bring Wi-Fi to both urban cities and rural towns. The project looks to eventually serve 105,000 users with an internet speed of 256 kbps, the minimum requirement for broadband service. As of yet, there is no assurance users will actually receive the minimum speed. While Wi-Fi in the Philippines isn’t quite widespread, the country is rapidly acquiring coworking spaces to fill the internet needs of daily workers. From CoLab to 47 East and Honeycomb Manila Coworking, Manilla is full of new, bustling coworking spaces that offer a constant stream of internet the rest of the city cannot.
With beautiful beaches, cheap culinary eats, and inexpensive domestic travel, Kuala Lumpur is the tropical city vacation we didn’t realize we were missing. Add in several quirky and all-encompassing coworking spaces, and Malaysia becomes not only a beautiful paradise, but a functional one. At Paper and Toast, all passes come with unlimited tea/water/coffee, as well as internet access and outlets. Passes range from hourly, daily, 12-day and monthly. Described as a “coworking space and kitchen collective”, P&T has an full on-site kitchen, and stocks snacks as well as office supplies for workers at a decent price.
Those searching for a relaxed enviroment can find that at Nook, which prides itself as a progressive “anti-office”, with a casual cafe-like feel located in Bangsar. They even have their own “guard dog”.
While thoughts of Indonesia most likely land on the beautiful beaches and romantic notions of Bali, the country has quite a bit to offer in terms of coworking. Formed in 2011 by 13 business leaders as part of a larger initiative, Global Entrepreneurship Program (GEP), Ciputra GEPI Incubator’s vision is improve Indonesia’s economic development, and social welfare, by increasing and supporting Indonesian startups at their budding stages. Likewise, Comma, the first coworking space in Jakarta, has its focus deeply ingrained in the community aspect of working. Freeware has made waves as being a free coworking space aimed at helping “seed-stage” entrepreneurs. Their help isn’t limited to tech companies — Freeware looks to help all kinds of starting businesses, from fashion to restaurateurs. In Bali, Hubud is a tropical oasis, just steps from a monkey forest; in the garden, an organic cafe serves up granola and other treats, while ensuring some of the best Wi-Fi in the city.