Climbing to the Top
How clear goal-setting and efficient strategizing defined Commons Workshop in the crowded co-working market
By : Jason Yiu
With world-class panoramic views of Victoria Harbour and industrial-style décor (think exposed ceilings and wooden furniture), Commons Workshop is 5,000 square feet co-working space designed to entice ambitious and visionary entrepreneurs.
A newcomer among established spaces, Commons Workshop emphasizes “Space vs. Place,” valuing effective communication over the constant 24/7 grind. This philosophy has imbued the co-working environment with marvelous communication and networking opportunities.
“A ‘space’ usually refers to a physical spatial area for human activities. However, a ‘place’ articulates the idea of interaction also, and that is the core value of Commons,” says Cary Wong, Managing Director of Commons Workshop. “We endeavor to make this place a business hub that offers foreseeable and unforeseeable opportunities through collaboration and networking.”
Wong never gets bored with the ever-changing environment of Commons Workshop. In his eyes, the workshop is infused with ‘cozy elements,’ which create a homey feeling not found in other spaces.
“I enjoy working here, and my role as the Managing Director never feels like a burden to me,” he says.
Besides the home-sweet-home culture, Wong considers himself more a cultural ambassador than a standard Managing Director, as he works to enhance communication between parties.
“Everyone is seeking new opportunities to meet new people, but often it would be way more appropriate to do so through a bridge, and that is what I tend to be,” Wong says.
Before establishing Commons Workshop, Wong was not exposed to co-working philosophies nor what people might look for in such a space. However, with his background working in different industries–ranging from IT for financial institutions to IP licensing–Cary is one phone call away from people working in many fields.
“Commons takes a very caring approach toward our clients and patrons from SMEs. I understand how confused a [startup founder] can feel. Sometimes, they need much more than just a space to work,” Wong says. With his broad network, he often acts as a bridge to link founders and professionals, catering to their individual needs.
Recalling the difficulties encountered in the early stages of establishing Commons, Wong found that promoting the brand to the public was harder than he thought.
“A year ago, we spent a lot of time to find out the answer to a simple question: How do we attract patrons to realize we are here?” he says. “We tried everything we could: Facebook promotions, Eventbrite, pull-up banners, leaflets, et cetera. By the second month since establishment, we had started to get nervous.”
Challenged by this unforeseen setback, an enhancement plan was initiated to kick things up a notch, including adding to the indoor greenery, building a complete venue profile online, and investing in sufficient digital marketing.
“Here we are today. We are happy to see Commons now being embraced by a number of well-known MNCs through offering great corporate event packages,” Wong says.
With the implementation of the enhancement plan, Commons shaped itself to become an industry leader in terms of quality. The co-working space is attractively designed and furnished with solid wood desks–an uncommon sight among established co-working spaces.
“Accessibility and pricing are a concern for most co-workers, but we still deeply believe in quality. Our ‘Commoners’ deserve the best furniture, which at some level boosts their sense of professionalism and efficiency,” Wong says.
With attention to detail and an energetic working culture, Commons Workshop made it through the difficult early business stage and reached more lucrative markets. Despite the recent success of their enhancement plan, Wong and the Commons management team are ambitious and ready to step up their game even further.
“We need to begin Version 2.0,” says Wong. “We aim to develop this as a business hub and attract more professionals from many fields. It’s going to take time, but we definitely will work on this, especially for the benefit of the younger generation.”