In this next instalment, Jonathon travels from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia to Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam for his second month of Remote Year. With this move came a new challenge in the form of a shared co-working space, very different from his desk at Totalmobile! In this blog post, he explores the pros and cons of this way of working and his experience of it.
Introduction to Remote Workspaces
Our workspace back in Kuala Lumpur had been specifically built for Remote Year, but with the added benefit of becoming a co-working space for all in the months when Remote Year groups aren’t there. This meant during my Remote Year stay, my only interactions were with my fellow Remotes. People who I already spend my nights and weekends with, people who I live and work with on a daily basis.
However, since moving to Ho Chi Minh City our workspace situation has changed to a shared co-working space, called Start Coworking Space. One major difference is that we now share the workspace with a company and a multitude of travellers and solo workers looking for a quiet space to get some work done. But it must be said that both are quite different from my comfortable Totalmobile office back home!
Remote Year Workspace – Kuala Lumpur
The workspace in Kuala Lumpur was a large open plan office on the 14th floor of a mall called Fahrenheit 88. The space was of minimalistic design with many different areas to suit everyone’s working style. There was everything from standing desks, couches for lounging around and standard desks for when you needed to get some work done. To help everyone keep in contact with their respective teams back home, there were 4 small glass call rooms and 2 larger meeting rooms for anyone who wished to make presentations.
The space also included a large kitchen/dining area for when Remotes wanted to take their breakfast/lunch/dinner breaks. In here, there was also a pool table for when we needed some down time. This area was decorated with a number of Remote Year murals, including our own Kublai mural. These reminded me of Totalmobile’s murals and vivid artwork which makes the workspace a livelier place to work and be.
Pros of the Dedicated Office
- Excellent internet provided for you
- No competition for preferred style of seating
- No issues when trying to book or get a call room
- Easy to concentrate as everyone is focused on their own work, any conversation is held in the kitchen like a traditional office
Remote Year Workspace – Ho Ci Minh City
The workspace in Ho Chi Minh City is spread across 2 buildings owned by a company called Start Coworking Space. The buildings are split up into small rooms which seat around 6 or more people, most have standard seated desks but some rooms have standing desks. Like Kuala Lumpur there are spaces for calls, with one designated sound-proof call room. Unlike Kuala Lumpur, the workspace feels more like a home, there is access to a pool if you feel like taking a break, hammocks for lazing around in and even a lunch sign on sheet. Each week a sheet would posted with the lunches that would be cooked each day, if you wanted to have one you just put your name down under the correct day. It definitely made getting lunch much easier as you didn’t have to leave the workspace to get a great Vietnamese meal.
The biggest difference to the workspace in Kuala Lumpur is the fact there are other people and even companies working in the same space. Sometimes this can feel odd, sitting next to a stranger you’ve just met and working alongside them, however after a few days of this I quickly got used to it. It’s also nice to get to know these people and see what kind of projects they are working on.
Pros of a Co-working Space
- Excellent internet provided for you
- Chance to meet interesting people depending on the room or area you decide to work in
- Easy to find concentration as everyone is focused on their own work, any conversation is held in the kitchen like a traditional office or down-time areas
Cons of a Co-working Space
- Getting your preferred seating can be harder than in a dedicated office
- Competition to book call rooms as there are less than in the dedicated office
Another Option for Remote Working
Since moving to Ho Chi Minh City quite a few of the Remotes have taken to working in coffee shops around the city. Most coffee shops here offer stable internet connections, although it is a busier environment many of the Remotes enjoy this style of working, not only because of its simplicity but also for the great Vietnamese coffee.
Pros of a Coffee Shop
- Access to food/drinks
- Depending on your work style it can be a motivator to work in a busy/always changing location
Cons of a Coffee Shop
- Depending on your workstyle the busy nature of coffee shops can be distracting (certainly not the type of place I like to work)
- No guarantee of a seat
- No dedicated call rooms for communication with teams
The Culture of Kuala Lumpur vs Ho Chi Minh City
Although I quite liked the office back in Kuala Lumpur for its ease of access to shopping, food and drinks. I have grown to really enjoy the workspace in Ho Chi Minh City. Every day is different, from choosing a new room to work in to laying in a hammock for a nap at lunch time. I like the fact that I’m not always in the same spot with the same people every day and get to meet new people who are travelling whilst working on amazing projects. It’s also fun to explain to people the wonderful work I get to do whilst travelling, to talk about Totalmobile and see/hear their reactions and comments on it.
I do miss my office chair back in Belfast, mainly because of the banter we have in the team. However, we still talk everyday through Skype and other communication tools, so it’s almost like I haven’t left the office!