Juhn Teo: More Grounds For Common Expansion

FUTURE OF WORK

Juhn Teo: More Grounds For Common Expansion

Malaysia’s largest co-working space Common Ground is expanding beyond the confines of the Klang Valley, with its first local foray to Penang. AWANI Review’s Ibrahim Sani ventured all the way up north to attends its launch event and speak to Common Ground co-founder Juhn Teo on prospects for office sharing in the Pearl of the Orient.

Airy, brightly lit, timber-clad spaces and bespoke furnitures. 

These are the thoughts that come to mind when one visits a Common Ground premise. Having built a number of such coworking premises in the Klang Valley and in the region, including the Philippines and Thailand, the start-up is on an aggressive expansion mode.

In today’s age, the demand for entrepreneurs and solopreneurs is also to be able to work together and form a ‘working network’ for them to collaborate

“We are a Klang Valley outfit but our ambition is far greater than this. That’s why we want to grow our presence not just in capital cities in ASEAN but also in large cities in the region,” says Juhn Teo, co-founder and CEO of Common Ground.

“What we want to offer to our customers is the ability to provide the same, ubiquitous but high-quality service, across all the places they would normally operate. And this includes not just the capital cities of Jakarta, Manila, Bangkok, and Kuala Lumpur, but also in cities with high-business and high-productivity centers like Penang,” he adds.

Co-working spaces are an extension or 'regeneration' of the decades-old business model of ‘Shared Service Offices’ that offers common office address, meeting and secretarial services.

Co-working space is the next step to this by creating a hyperlocalised community center for business people.

“We know the market already are familiar with service offices. But in today’s age, the demand for entrepreneurs and solopreneurs is also to be able to work together and form a ‘working network’ for them to collaborate, and business-match their offerings with fellow business owners,” Juhn adds.

When asked if they have a steady pool of customers ready to buy up memberships at their premises, Juhn is fully optimistic.

“Our offering is catered for businesses of every size. When they are small, our hot desks are the clear favorites. We have private offices to allow two, four our six men room to allow for more privacy,” he says.

We have a rather steady pool of businesses who are quite big now that are still renting out our spaces

“But here’s the interesting bit – When businesses are too big for us, and they move out to have offices of their own, that’s great. But our history tells us a different story."

“We have a rather steady pool of businesses who are quite big now that are still renting out our spaces." Most coworking spaces take on long-term, expensive commercial leases.

"In fact, they are now our core tenant, still using our facilities across the region. This proves to us one thing, they not only value our offering but also our added-value of providing the opportunity for their businesses to continue to collaborate with other businesses operating out of our co-working spaces,” he says with a broad smile.

Watch the full interview with Juhn Teo below.