An emerging business called co.lab rents out a shared workspace to freelancers, entrepreneurs, graduate students, and the like. Managed by Full Suite, Inc., it has the friendly atmosphere of a neighborhood cafe and presents an alternative to home offices and coffee shops.
Francesca Zimmer Santos, who founded co.lab at the start of this year with Danella Yaptinchay, gave some tips on how to work efficiently and politely in a communal area.
Working at co.lab is "supposed to feel like you're [working] at home, but no longer in isolation," she said in an interview.
The place is fully equipped with meeting rooms of various sizes, desks, overhead projectors, drawing boards, scanners, photocopiers, wireless Internet access, and other common office services. "When people visit co.lab, they come with the aim to be productive," said Ms. Santos.
While people come to co.lab to work independently, they can also use the space as a formal meeting venue. Moreover, they can chat up people in the area to feed off of each other's ideas and energies.
"Collaboration is what co.lab is all about, [as] co.labís purpose is to form a community of like-minded individuals who are open to potentially working together. Becoming a part of any community is definitely an asset to work efficiency, as more minds spark more ideas," said Ms. Santos.
She added, "Generally, the co-workers at co.lab are very polite, clean and respectful. They know their boundaries." The founder advised people who work in a communal space to follow the golden rule and treat others the way one would like to be treated.
Ms. Santos also said, "Know when a co-worker needs their space. If [one has] headphones on they probably donít want to be disturbed, so any interaction should take place when the other person is more open."
Being surrounded by people who are getting their work done can also heighten one's motivation to finish his or her own work. As opposed to being alone, in a shared environment, people can develop a mindset that "everyone is working, so I have to [do the same]," said Ms. Santos.
Since a co.lab worker has to pay for use of the space, "co.lab creates accountability, which can help prevent procrastination," said Ms. Santos. "People maximize their time in different ways, but it is best to have a game plan for the day so that time isn't wasted, because it can never be recovered. Keep your goals in mind so you always stay on track. Take breaks when your brain needs [it] and try to eliminate distractions."
Comfort and tidiness are also factors that affect efficiency in a workplace. "We maintain a clean space and try to lead by example. It is important for productivity not to have clutter," said Ms. Santos.
Though co.lab is a young enterprise, it has already become a favorite spot for achievers like host and model Sarah Meier, photographers Franciso and Rone Guerrero, and Senator Teofisto Guingona III's communications consultant Arriane Serafico.
Also, cultivated at co.lab were ideas for ventures like clothing line The Artisan and gourmet mushroom distributor Ministry of Mushrooms.
The virtual office also regularly hosts Spark Series, a lineup of business-related talks and workshops, as well as monthly Jellies, which are casual working events where anyone can try co.lab's services free of charge for the day.
co.lab is at 4/F Optima Building, 221 Salcedo Street, Legaspi Village, Makati City. Visit www.colabmanila.com for more information.
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