“I believe there are two kinds of people in this world – you have the bees and you have the swans. It’s an interesting theory I read about somewhere. If you see a bee, she’s hustling hard and looks like the most worked person on earth.
And then there’s the swan who looks so elegant but nobody sees that underneath the water, she’s paddling equally hard. I try to be like the swan. Yes, there is a lot of mental work and foresight planning involved in my job, but that’s ok because I love what I do.
I’m the co-founder of workbuddy. It’s an app that lets you work from any co-working space in Singapore affordably. We’ve partnered up with the top co-working spaces so that you can choose where you want to work from with one flexible monthly membership.
This model already exists. If you look at Class Pass, the New York-based company, it’s pretty big. They took over Guava Pass in Singapore. They deal with fitness and wellness but we’re trying to do something similar in the co-working space arena.
My vision when we started workbuddy was – and I think we were ahead of our time when we started but now people are finding it more relevant and our enquiries have gone up massively – was to tell people that you don’t have to work at the same location everyday.
There are days where I need to be close to my son’s school or near a gym to clock in a workout. Then there are days where I’d rather be at home doing household chores but would love an office near home for those short bursts where I need to be on a Zoom call.
The response was great when we launched workbuddy in August 2018. But then COVID-19 happened and we had to freeze our memberships because people weren’t allowed back in their offices, so we had to completely shut down.
Ever since the circuit breaker, we’ve been convincing businesses that there needs to be better flexibility because people are not working in offices anymore. All the work is happening on the fly – in the taxi; in the train; at a Starbucks.
Moving forward, I believe flexible work arrangements will play a massive role in how everyone runs their businesses. You don’t need to be tied up to expensive leases. You don’t need desks for every single one of your employees.
Some corporates were a bit reluctant in accepting this way of thinking. They were like, ‘Oh no, I want to see my people in front of me. We have to be in the same office’ and all that.
But what has happened in the last three months? Everyone’s worked from home, and in many cases, they’ve produced similar or better results. Now the lessons for corporates are huge and I don’t think they’re in a hurry to bring everyone back to the office anytime soon.
Challenges? There were tonnes. We are dealing with tech after all and we’ve had technical glitches that led to a lot of disappointments and frustration. But as an entrepreneur, I think the beauty is that there are also wins that help you move on.
When you realise it’s not the app that the members are after but the experience – the app is just the enabler at the end of the day – and that the contingency processes still work, your increased value in the eyes of the user is a very big achievement.
Getting good member feedback is gold and all of us in the team really celebrate it. From day one, my team and I have always said that we are in this to build a brand, so we need to ensure that our member experience remains great all the time.
I get excited about getting out of bed in the morning, getting to work and seeing our members have a good experience. I’m not in this for the quick money. And that, really, is how you build business longevity.” – Gaurav Joshi, workbuddy co-founder
Interview by: Arman Shah