I was drowned by dread the moment my eyes cracked open last Monday morning. The day ahead, the work to come, the people to meet — it is a monotony worse than morning breath, and it only gets more aggravating throughout the operation that is getting from my house door to the office.
As I reached over to snooze my screaming alarm, I remembered something that resuscitated the morning — Lifestyle Asia would be heading to The Great Room. Like any diligent writer, I spent the week prior Googling for pictures of the co-working space, and voraciously stalking their social media pages to create a mental Pinterest of what to expect.
My colleagues and I congregated at the lift lobby of One George Street, where The Great Room is based. We followed the customary “how’s your weekend”, and “ugh Monday” script as the lift rode up to the tenth floor. Someone’s narration about a weekend spent hermetically sealed in their room was cut off the moment we step out of the lift and saw the office. The misery we bore in our bags was quickly replaced by enthusiastic prayers that went something like “oh my god, oh my god, wow”.
I was always warned that pictures distort reality. Everything is always better in photographs, but this was an exception. It was like stepping into a movie set. Don Draper could possibly slide out of a chrome-lined office to show me around. There was natural sunlight, and a seductive view of the glimmering Singapore River.
“People work here?” I asked, gesturing to the huddled groups chatting around the Drawing Room — an affectionate title for the working area by the entrance. “Where’s the fluorescent light? These people actually look alive.”
“Can you please not get us kicked out, we’ve been here five minutes,” came a firm reply from my boss.
We were first shown the Hot Desking area, where members can pick anywhere around the common areas to work. It feels a like a café, and working in one has been scientifically proven to boost productivity. Pulling up a seat by the communal working table set right in the middle of The Great Room’s second extension has the same impact on me.
Maybe it’s the intimate living room-like design, the hushed conversations, or the significant espresso fragrance swirling, but my train of thought flows unbarred when I’m plopped down on my favourite spot.
It’s also the adjacent pantry with the proper espresso machine that I love. No Nespresso capsules here. In an age where everything is instant, it offers the greatest luxury: time to pause and think. Crafting a cup of coffee soon becomes a morning ritual. There’s something about the whirring sound of the coffee grinder, extracting a luscious shot of espresso and inhaling its heady aroma that just gets me ready for the day. Most days I like my coffee iced and black, and once I pour the espresso shot into a glass of ice, I carry it back to my desk, place it on the surface, breathe in and think to myself: “Let’s do this.”
Still, there are times when my mind feels jumbled up, when peace and quiet are needed. That’s when I make my occasional migration to the “quiet room”: The Great Room’s equivalent of a library that’s replete with smooth marble tables and thoughtful silence.
We also have our own office, where he glass-walled space mirrors the Gatsby-chic vibe the rest of the office has come to be well known for, with wooden desks, tan leather seats and unique lamps giving it a warm and homely atmosphere. But my favourite feature of the room is the unblocked view of Boat Quay below. I’ve never been quite the believer that an office space can have so much impact on work enthusiasm, but I’ve actually never been so motivated to come to work before.
On Wednesday, I was asked to hold a meeting with a collaborator for a project on our site. Like any considerate person, I texted them for a preference of location, to which a reply came with the dreaded C-word: café. It’s easier to for me to write a rap about quantum theory than to find a café during lunch hour in the Central Business District that can host a productive meeting, and I don’t even know what a quark is.
The meeting space in the The Great Room formed a lifeline. Pairs of sofas are arranged along the floor-to-ceiling windows on the left of the office, allowing for intimate conversations and snappy one-on-ones. Members are allowed to invite guests to the common spaces for an hour or two. So, I baited the collaborator to the office with promises of coffee, a view that wasn’t a wallpaper of white-collared clans, and no Spotify’s Global Top 50s playing on loop. He arrived, and was awed, to which I responded by puffing my chest out like an entitled parent, though I’ve only been in The Great Room for less than a week.
Thursday was always a bland prelude to Friday, until I was coerced into going for The Great Thirstday with a colleague. This is where professionals from diverse industries are invited once a month to participate in an informal chat, and members can mingle with one another over bites and Peroni beers after. It’s a pleasant opportunity for interaction across various companies beyond brief hi-byes at the pantry. The Great Room marks itself as a co-working space that hits the right balance between privacy and interactivity, but most importantly, Thursdays suck a lot less. And the daily grind, if I’m honest.
Everyday, there’s a new face seen doing work at the Hot Desking areas. Most of the offices are full, or scheduled to be. Even the construction of a new wing can’t meet the demand for more. The Great Room has an upcoming solution: a brand new location slated to open at Centennial Tower in January 2018. The co-working space will also be expanding to Bangkok, opening another at Gaysorn Tower in March 2018. It promises to be as, or even better. We cannot wait.
To schedule a chat and a sneak peek of the new office, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.