Like many parents of young school-going children, I spend quite a bit of time loitering in shopping malls, while the kids attend various classes. I do sometimes get work done in cafes, but I don’t always want to eat or drink. Then, I recently made a discovery of by-the-hour coworking spaces.
It started when I read about Switch work booths. These are enclosed booths you can rent by the hour, or part thereof. They are located in a few shopping malls, mostly in suburban areas. You get a desk, and a chair, and Internet access. With the booth often situated in open indoor spaces with a fair bit of foot traffic, you’d feel like a zoo exhibit.
Out of curiosity, though, I checked out the Switch service. The fish tank experience aside, with a few exceptions, most of the booths aren’t in centrally located areas. However, it turns out that they don’t just have booths. I was delighted to see that Switch also lists options in coworking spaces, including at companies like JustCo and The Executive Centre, among others. These coworking spaces are conveniently located in central parts of town.
I tried out JustCo at Marina Square. These coworking spaces can be a whole lot better than random booths in the malls. There are two main reasons.
First, it’s a big place with many seating options. It might perhaps be a bit crowded, maybe a bit noisy, during busy office hours. But outside of that, I’m quite pleased with the quietness and the wide variety of working areas available. It’s easy to pick something to suit anyone’s preferences. Do you want a proper desk and chair? They’ve got it. The work chairs are very comfortable.
Do you prefer very relaxed and comfy seat? They’ve got a variety of sofa configurations.
Some people may prefer a cafe setting. Yup. That’s an option too.
Then, the next thing is you get access to a pantry. Coffee, tea, or just water. Just help yourself.
Power outlets are readily available. You can work without worrying about running out of battery.
Switch’s prices vary by the individual spaces. At present, the most common rate is $3.60 per hour, and this includes all booths and all JustCo coworking spaces. Given the amenities available at JustCo, it seems like quite a bargain, in comparison with the booths.
You are billed by the minute, so you don’t have to worry about just crossing into the next minute of a new hour and ending up having to pay the full hour. There is a minimum charge of $1 for each visit.
I find this rate compares favourably to patronising a cafe. Starbucks, if you’re lucky enough to find a seat, will cost you perhaps $7 to $8 for a Frappuccino. I feel, to be fair, you probably shouldn’t hog the seat for more than an hour if you’re just going to sip one drink. Maybe two, if you also get food, but that would bring your cost up to easily over $10.
This means to say, Starbucks would cost you at least $5 an hour, assuming you don’t be the one who sits there 3 hours with just one coffee-of-the-day. I think, JustCo’s space at $3.60 per hour is way more comfortable. You get “okay” coffee too. Or, it’s also fine if you only just want to sit and work, no need for drinks.
To get on Switch, you need their mobile app. You can browse the list of places available. You can see if the place is open, and check the seats availability.
Check-in is easy. Click on the check-in button, and the app displays a QR-code which you scan using the scanner at the door. The door will then automatically unlock.
Check-out is done by similarly scanning the QR-code with the scanner after you exit.
Information you need, such as the Wi-Fi password, is in the app. There’s a number to call, in case you need help. JustCo has staff on-site during regular work hours, but if you come outside of that, everything is self-serve, which is just fine. There’s no point asking other JustCo tenants who happen to be around, because it seems they know nothing about Switch anyway.
This arrangement with coworking spaces seems to be quite a viable alternative to sitting at cafes. I’m hopping to see more of these around!