Imagine sending out emails on a hammock swing chair or going through a report on the bleachers, with your pet dog nearby.
With the rising presence of modern and hip co-working spaces in big cities, notably in the Klang Valley, the place one calls “office” has taken on very a different look and function.
Although not entirely new, the concept of co-working spaces started with serviced office facilities that first surfaced a few decades ago.
But while back then they were sought after mostly by smaller companies or startups not ready to lock down on long-term rentals, today, co-working spaces are popular with freelancers and corporate giants.
Featuring trendy designs, cool features and networking plus community-building opportunities, they meet the current generation’s business and lifestyle choices, especially for Millennials.
Here’s a look at three of the latest co-working locations in town.
Making it work with pets
By far the only pet-friendly co-working space in town is Common Ground Jaya One, Petaling Jaya, which opened in February.
Located within The Square, the two-storey venue spans 22,000sq ft (2,044sq m), with only the ground floor being set aside as pet-friendly.
Of course, there are strict house rules which limit the types of pets to dogs, cats and rabbits under a certain weight at the moment. The operations team has even received enquiries about bringing in a parrot and a snake! (Thank goodness for rules.)
“We were asked by the (community-focused) mall management to consider being pet-friendly and it made a lot of sense to us. We certainly have many members who join us because of our pet-friendly nature,” shares Common Ground co-founder Juhn Teo, adding that about 20% of their members come in with pets.
When this writer was there, a poodle was brought in by a member, in a baby stroller, while another dog was sleeping in a separate area at the back.
With the tagline, “Every Day Is Bring Your Pet To Work Day”, the feature is certainly welcomed by those who do not wish to leave their beloved pets at home alone all day.
A member who chose to remain anonymous said she really appreciated that the co-working space offered this option. Being a regular there, the operations team members are familiar with her poodle, and she can work worry-free.
Common Ground Jaya One’s design is also characterised by its “bleachers” on the ground floor. Throw pillows create a comfortable feel as warm sunlight bathes the area, thanks to skylights overhead.
“We have always had the underlying tone of minimalism and practicality. Some people say that our design is very Japanese, very zen, which is probably true, as we have a lot of wood, glass and green elements,” says Teo.
“That’s half of it but the other half does change from venue to venue. The design team is given a lot of freedom to really study the surroundings of each venue, and who it is appealing to,” he adds.
Lead designer Adrien Ritzal, from Adrien Kent Creative Studio, elaborates on the design.
“The finishing evokes a sense of comfort and warmth. The colour palette, which varies across Common Ground’s venues, lends a neutral and nature-inspired scheme,” says Adrien.
“This is carried through with timber finishes, jute rugs, and of course, live potted plants all around. All the private offices are furnished with ribbed glass panels for privacy, while allowing a lot of natural light to penetrate throughout the corridors and the rooms,” he adds.
The Jaya One centre is part of a family of 15 outfits in Malaysia, five in the Philippines and four more opening in Thailand later this year.
Teo adds that they will be adding features to increase productivity within the actual space itself soon via temperature control, CO2 monitoring and lighting levels, which will be adjustable for optimum working conditions.
“Generally, buildings in Malaysia, we are told, are three degrees colder than necessary. Currently, we have smart timers to turn off lights when necessary, and will be installing them in printers, water coolers and anything electrically-driven, soon,” he states.
However, Teo stressed that beyond good physical design, the space serves to connect members both in terms of business and lifestyle.
That is achieved through the various events that they organise, as well as through an app, which links members across all their venues in different countries.
“Bringing in green technology and conducive designs are great, but we have also started going into the next level because anyone can do a wonderful space.
“There’s a real business and lifestyle ecosystem here. We give members that platform to connect with one another and also give them chance to give so much benefits to their staff as well,” he says.
Green, hip and thoughtful
If you are in any one of the Co-labs co-working spaces in the Klang Valley, you will get a chance to work on a desk repurposed from 200-year-old chengal wood.
The wood is a by-product of its parent company, which acquired a 35-acre (14ha) piece of land in Klang that house
d an old shoe factory partly built using hardwoods.
The factory was torn down but not before saving the chengal and balau – 150 tonnes of it to be exact.
A big chunk of the wood was first used to build the Cengal House, a clubhouse for a gated community in Cyberjaya.
Then the design team decided to use it to build some of the workstations and door frames at all the Co-labs co-working spaces.
To date, there is still 100 tonnes of the wood left, says Co-labs director Benjamin Teo, when we met at the Co-labs at Naza Tower, Platinum Park, Kuala Lumpur.Launched in June, the centre marks the company’s third space, which spreads out over 27,000sq ft (2,508sq m) over two floors.
“Our ethos at Co-labs evolves around sustainability, for example the upcycled wood we use and how our cafe practises a zero-waste policy,” explains Teo, adding that things like eco-friendly glue and LED lights are also part of their green effort.
The brand’s Glenmarie centre also features indoor hydroponic gardens where vegetables like Chinese cabbages are grown for members to take home at cost price.
Also unique and thoughtfully included at Co-labs are the cosy nap pods and nursing room for members to use when necessary. There is also a gaming room which features, among others, an arcade machine and videogame console.
Members also can relax at the inviting lounge, complete with swing chair and comfy stools.
“We’ve also created a lot of breakout areas, knowing that people need the space to chat or brainstorm for ideas,” adds Teo.
Incorporated into the design is an internal staircase that leads to the upper floor, which houses mostly the private rooms.
“Here, because we are in the heart of KL, we decided to use a minimalistic design to maximise on the external view and capitalise on the natural sunlight,” he adds.
Teo and his team believe that when it comes to work these days, Millennials entering the workforce have different value systems.
“They want work-life balance and they want to get the work done but have fun doing it too. So we don’t want to lose that fun positioning,” he ends.
Launching its 34th co-working centre recently in the heart of Kuala Lumpur is Regus Malaysia, which opened its first outfit in the country way back in 2005. Regus Tribeca, located along Jalan Imbi, occupies two levels and measures 24,000sq ft (2,230sq m) in total.
It features a business lounge, 371 workstations, 102 offices and three meeting rooms. In total, the space accommodates 300-350 people.
The interior is modern contemporary, with warm wood flooring in the main areas and plush carpeting in other spots.
“In general, colours follow a theme of spring, summer, autumn and winter for all the outlets. Summer will be red tones, winter, blue, spring, greenish, while fall is more yellow brown,” shares Vijayakumar Tangarasan, country head, IWG Malaysia, Indonesia and Brunei, during an interview at the centre. IWG, or International Workplace Group, is the parent company of Regus.
“Sometimes, the design follows the building that the centre is in. For example if it’s in an industrial area, we have the industrial look,” he says.
Although the facade of the building also plays a role in determining the interior design, the layout is generally the same throughout all the outlets, he adds.
Regus Tribeca generally features a neutral palette, with pops of bright colours here and there.
“Most of the buildings we are located in are green buildings, for example Menara OBYU in Damansara Perdana is Green Building Index-certified,” he adds.
The outfits also feature energy-saving practices like LED lights and individual air-conditioning controls.
“One of the biggest things we do (in terms of green initiatives), is that because of our network, people don’t have to commute far to work, so that helps reduce carbon footprint,” says Vijayakumar.