Co-working spaces take off

Saturday, May 10, 2014 08:00

Relaxing: Co-working "offices" are tailored for freelancers and entrepreneurs. — Coutersy Photo of Clickspace

by Aimee Millwood

As the culture of co-working develops in Viet Nam, a variety of new "office" spaces are cropping up for location-independent workers. In Ha Noi, the blossoming co-working scene is built on diversity, with different spaces to suit different workers' needs.

Some, such as HUB.IT serve as incubators for start-ups and entrepreneurs seeking support and collaboration within a like-minded community, while others offer flexible work spaces for a range of remote workers.

In Tay Ho, Commune and ClickSpace have become popular with expats looking for a home away from working at home.

ClickSpace, which open-ed last year, attracts many expats seeking a traditional office environment.

"ClickSpace has changed my life," Sally Gardener, who has worked away from a real office for three years, says. Sally uses the location as her regular office and says it has transformed the way she works.

"For me, it's just about getting up and out of the house. At coffee shops, I always run into people I know and end up chatting and not getting work done."

Before starting Click-Space, founder Jason Lusk says, "I had always thought of co-working spaces as being incubators rather than space for freelancers."

Jason, like many expats in Ha Noi, said that trying to do business in Ha Noi could be frustrating. Simple daily tasks were often unnecessarily time consuming, so he filled the need with a co-working space that offered expats business services.

Commune Cafe departs from both the tech incubator and rented-desk co-working models. The co-working cafe – the first of its kind in Ha Noi – is, essentially, a work-conducive restaurant. For co-owner Jeremy Wellard, making a workspace that "includes the natural personal interactions that take place in coffee shops and cafe environments" is key to organic collaboration.

Commune is a far cry from your typical office. Beanbags and lakeside seating replace office desks and cubicles, blurring the line between work and relaxation.

The diversity of co-working spaces in Ha Noi offers options that suit many different tastes. While the city's blossoming co-working scene may seem to offer "something for everyone," there's a notable piece missing.

No co-working space has yet mastered the ultimate in collaboration – cross-cultural environments that appeal to both Vietnamese and foreigners.

Unlike other countries, such as Israel or Thailand, where one major city dominates the start-up market, Viet Nam is split between Ha Noi and HCM City.

In Viet Nam, co-working spaces and incubators have a relatively short history, but they are picking up steam fast.

While co-working for me has been an entirely positive experience, I can see how there would be difficulties for those who crave to be with a close-knit community of professionals.

Co-working is one of the most stable working environments for freelancers, but they need the self discipline to go to the office to make it work!

Like gym membership, paying for a full-time desk often gives you extra incentive to go often to get your money's worth.

And indeed, with co-working, it takes investing time in a space to reap the rewards. — VNS

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