284: Oscar Venhuis – The desk co-working space

284: Oscar Venhuis – The desk co-working space

 

Podcast highlights:

  • [20:42] What do you try to do differently than other co-working spaces? -- Co-working has become global now with the rise of players like WeWork in the US. We see co-working as still in its infancy. What we see is the difference between a business center and co-working. A business center is just about leasing space out. Co-working, however, is all about community. The logic is if you have a more diverse environment with different viewpoints you can collaborate better and get better outcomes. We are still at the very early phases here.
  • [31:50] How does creating community work? How do you achieve this? -- There are two things you need in business. One is scale, the other is trust. What we try to do is not only connect our clients with each other but also to other businesses in the neighborhood. This creates a far bigger network, this is the scale. The way we build trust is through encouraging meetings and bringing people together and overcoming the barriers to contact. This happens offline, face-to-face.
  • [41:30] Let's think now about co-working in Asia. Where are we going to be in 10 years time? -- The future of work is about flexibility. Younger generations want new environments. They no longer want to sit in stuffy offices anymore. There will be more flexibility in terms of where and when people work. Another trend is with so-called "glocalization," which is a response to globalization. People are starting to look more at their own neighborhoods and connecting to the people around them. The future will see far more interaction and sharing within local communities.

Podcast notes:

  • [00:05] Welcome Oscar Venhuis, co-founder and COO of theDesk, to ATP Stories with host Graham D Brown.
  • [00:45] What is your background? -- Born in Seoul, South Korea, raised in Holland, and lived for past 20 years in Asia. Came back to Asia to live and work in 1997, this was on the day when Hong Kong was handed back to China. At that time in Hong Kong, there were no coffee shops and organic food wasn't big then.
  • [06:27] Tell us a little about yourself. What is it you do? -- Consider myself a global nomad. Trained originally as a designer in the fashion industry. Because most fashion manufacturing is in Asia, ended up here. Really enjoyed touring factories and seeing how things are made. This interest led to spending time in product development environments. Learning how to scale products and understand mass production and how factories work. There are many issues relating to quality control that come into play and it was all very fascinating.
  • [13:56] What sort of mindset do you think lends itself to this type of work? How would you describe your own mindset? -- From a very young age lived in a very creative environment. When deciding what to do for a living, knew it had to be something creative...design was a natural fit.
  • [16:34] How did your background and mindset lead you to become a co-founder of a co-working space in Hong Kong? -- It was somewhat by chance, really. Our other co-founder introduced me to co-working and some of the research he had done. When he discussed it with me, he never mentioned money as the focus. Rather it was about the future of work and doing something new. This was very intriguing.
  • [20:42] What do you try to do differently than other co-working spaces? -- Co-working has become global now with the rise of players like WeWork in the US. We see co-working as still in its infancy. What we see is the difference between a business center and co-working. A business center is just about leasing space out. Co-working, however, is all about community. The logic is if you have a more diverse environment with different viewpoints you can collaborate better and get better outcomes. We are still at the very early phases here.
  • [28:00] Do you currently have any large co-working spaces suitable for corporate clients? Is that at all in your plan? -- Yes, we have a few. We work with clients in logistics and law firms, for example. There is a balance to be found, however. Large corporate clients might require more restrictive access policies. It comes down to how you set things up. It is possible to build community say within an entire building or a neighborhood. So we are looking at larger scale spaces.
  • [31:50] How does creating community work? How do you achieve this? -- There are two things you need in business. One is scale, the other is trust. What we try to do is not only connect our clients with each other but also to other businesses in the neighborhood. This creates a far bigger network, this is the scale. The way we build trust is through encouraging meetings and bringing people together and overcoming the barriers to contact. This happens offline, face-to-face.
  • [38:00] So talk a little more about building trust. You actually have a community operations center. What is this all about? -- The question is can you scale trust? And how do you scale it? Communication is important to community-building. It needs to be very personal. We are always looking at how little moments for our clients can lead to something bigger.
  • [41:30] Let's think now about co-working in Asia. Where are we going to be in 10 years time? -- The future of work is about flexibility. Younger generations want new environments. They no longer want to sit in stuffy offices anymore. There will be more flexibility in terms of where and when people work. Another trend is with so-called "glocalization," which is a response to globalization. People are starting to look more at their own neighborhoods and connecting to the people around them. The future will see far more interaction and sharing within local communities.