Entrepreneur

Thousands Of Cafe Seats But No Power Point? This App Will Let You Book Them In Advance

Here’s the question of the day.

Which of these 2 spaces would you rather see yourself working in?

Image Credits: Primespace, Epigami

I do not claim to say that no one likes the school environment, but an occasional change in environment can do you, and your work brain, good.

And that’s where coworking spaces come into play.

As the limelight on open concept offices becomes brighter, coworking spaces have also been finding their way into the spotlight. Leveraging on this, homegrown startups have been quick to find a new ground, as seen with startup workwander.

workwanderWho?

Image Credit: The workwander Team

First featured in TODAY, workwander is an app for both iOS and Android that offers users a variety of coworking space choices.

Via the app, users can book seats in spaces listed (cafes and official coworking spaces) and make payment using pre-paid credits or credit cards. Afterwards, they will receive an instant SMS or email confirmation about their booking.

During booking, app users will have two options for cafes. Package A costs $5 and reserves them 1 hour of space as well as a free coffee or tea. Package B costs $20 and lets them have the space for 4 hours, along with $10 worth of food credit.

The seats reserved for app users are guaranteed power plug access, WiFi and are preferably in sections further from the crowds to create a more conducive space.

So far, workwander’s cafes include HopHeads and their coworking spaces features popular spaces such as the family-friendly Trehaus and the quirky Justco.

Image Credit: Sg.asia-city

Unlike other coworking spaces such as Spacemob, workwander does not concentrate their spaces in central Singapore.

The app seeks to “provide workspace options at every part of Singapore to reduce commute time.” As long as the place has the basic amenities and is accessible by public transport, they can easily jump onto the workwander bandwagon.

Behind workwander

workwander was cofounded by Jeremy Lim and Shawn Lau, who were already managing Coworking Singapore, a not-for-profit listing platform for such spaces.

Working in cafes used to be associated primarily with students, but Lim notes that public interest in coworking spaces has been surging in recent years, with an estimate 60 such places available now islandwide.

“On Coworking Singapore, we currently have 25 active listings of coworking spaces, with an average of 1 new space contacting us each week since August last year.”

From speaking to the space operators, Lim and Lau also learnt that the largest obstacle in this sector was in marketing. Despite the abundance of choices, they were being under-utilised. The same problem was face by cafes during their off-peak hours, as well as in some offices.

The workwander team seeks to aggregate these spaces onto one platform to reach out to the public more efficiently. Furthermore, they hope to branch out from the general public, targeting freelancers, startup teams and corporates as well.

On this, Lim comments that corporate involvement remains limited for now, but the team aims to leverage on initiatives such as the Work-Life Grant to rope in more SMEs.

Turning Cafes And Customers Into workwanderers

Hop Heads Cafe at Dhoby Ghaut / Image Credit: nahmj

One question raised to the team was about the incentive to use the app. My main concern was that their pilot “Cafes for Work” initiative sees cafe bookings restricted to weekdays from 2-6pm, a period when these places are experiencing off-peak crowds.

Addressing my concern, Lim replies that the app works as a “pre-emptive measure to guarantee users working spaces with power plugs, even when the cafe gets unexpectedly busy.

The limited duration is also tailored to offer users “a more social and casual work setting” as a brief escape from their usual environment. For people who prefer longer working times, Lim recommends booking the coworking spaces available on their app.

Besides, he adds, the complimentary drinks and food credits also offset the booking fee, so that app users don’t feel the pinch from making reservations.

For cafes owners worried about their businesses being affected, Lim shares that they are given the flexibility to open up reserved seats to walk-in customers. This is if no bookings have been made, or if there is an unexpected surge in patrons or during private functions.

By giving cafes flexibility to use the workwander platform, the team hopes to collect feedback from them, and customers, with the aim of a wider implementation in the future.

New Change For A New Year

Not everyone is a proponent of coworking spaces, but you can always think about them as a short getaway, or a sojourn to someplace new. How many times have you wished for that change in environment, away from usual walls and tables?

And now you can, all for $5. Coffee or tea included.

Featured Image Credit: The workwander Team

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