Coworking Space With Urban Farms Popular With Members
SINGAPORE – As more people prioritise health and wellness at the workplace, a coworking space that also functions as an urban farm is a hit with tenants, reported The Edge on Thursday evening (16 June, SGT).
That coworking space is known as O2Work, which currently has over 600 members. It has four outlets here. Its flagship 13,820 sq ft space is located at Odeon Towers, but there’s a bigger 20,000 sq ft branch situated at two levels at Income@Raffles at 16 Collyer Quay. There are also two smaller coworking centres in the city fringe: TM@54 in Aljunied and Singapore Swimming Club at Tanjong Rhu Road.
According to its CEO and Founder, Robert Li, he exited his steel trading business to focus on growing M Grass International, an “indoor ecological specialist”, and he began researching how to build a plant ecosystem in an indoor environment.
He started to search for a new office space for his startup. The property agents he consulted suggested for him to take up a coworking space. That was in 2017, when the flexible office space sector was first taking off.
While Li liked the concept of coworking which encouraged collaboration and social interaction among its members, six months after he availed of a flexible office space he developed allergic rhinitis, which he continues to suffer from.
The allergy made him aware how crucial air quality is and the effects of air pollutants on one’s health. After studying the market for coworking space, and consulting several professors from NUS EMBA Business School about the industry, Li concluded that perhaps there was a market for flexible office spaces that prioritised wellness.
That resulted in the establishment of O2Work, which focuses on creating workplaces that offer “a healthy, green, relaxed environment, rich in oxygen”, said Li.
He opened O2Work’s maiden outlet at Odeon Towers in September 2019. When the outlet first opened, one of Li’s business associates visited the workspace with his then-pregnant wife, narrated Li. She believed that the air was fresh and good for her baby that she convinced her husband and five of her friends to take up space there too. Today, the occupancy of that coworking space is 99 percent.
In May 2020, O2Work at Odeon Tower bagged the BCA Green Mark Gold Plus certification. Moreover, all of their coworking spaces feature a smart indoor eco-farm that can grow up to 25 different types of vegetables, and O2Work members are given bags of fresh and pesticide-free vegetables every three to four weeks.
Furthermore, Li ensured that all the fittings and furniture used in O2Work’s coworking spaces are eco-friendly. Even the wall panels and office furniture are made from biodegradable materials that are zero-carbon certified by Bureau Veritas Certification (BVC).