Talking Heads: Kong Wan Long, Co-Founder and Chief Commercial Officer at JustCo

Talking Heads: Kong Wan Long, Co-Founder and Chief Commercial Officer at JustCo

Talking Heads is a Telum Media series that spotlights company leaders and explores their thoughts on business, leadership and communications.

In this edition, we spoke with Kong Wan Long, Co-Founder and Chief Commercial Officer at JustCo. Wan Long has played a pivotal role in spearheading the ambitious expansion of JustCo across the Asia Pacific region since its inception 12 years ago.

JustCo is a Singaporean business that provides co-working spaces for individuals and companies. Walk us through the community response when you first launched.
JustCo started as a service office out of the Samsung Hub in Singapore 12 years ago. We have since evolved into Asia’s leading co-working brand.

At our initial stages, co-working spaces were misconstrued by some as just another type of serviced office, shared amongst a few tenants. However, as awareness has grown, co-working spaces are now widely recognised as purpose-built workspaces that support a variety of work modalities, optimise space and costs, enhance productivity and function as a platform for individuals to connect and network.

As the sharing economy landscape continues to grow and gain traction across different industries, co-working is poised to become the dominant workplace solution in the coming years, providing the flexibility and adaptability the future workforce needs.

How have those first impressions evolved as the co-working industry continues to grow?
In the early years, there was a perception that co-working spaces catered to start-ups, coupled with a stereotypical image of people in t-shirts, Bermuda shorts and sneakers. However, this image has changed over the years, especially post-COVID, with traditionally corporate organisations like multinational corporations, legal, financial and professional services, recognising the benefits of operating in a co-working space.

Co-working spaces are more than just shared physical workspaces. As the concept of co-working and flexible workspace solutions gains traction, people are starting to recognise that co-working spaces like JustCo offer benefits that go beyond purpose-built workspaces. People are no longer just looking for a workspace. They are looking for a workplace that allows them to connect, collaborate and grow.

To add on, co-working spaces are increasingly known for their well-designed facilities that support different work modalities and workplace wellness. For instance, JustCo prides itself on its purpose-built spaces that incorporate biophilic designs (designs that increase your connectivity to the natural environment) and hotel-like amenities. We draw inspiration from the local community to create co-working facilities that give you a sense of belonging, where you feel at ease and perform at your best.

Talk to us about the work of your communications team - what work do they do to grow the JustCo brand in Singapore and beyond?
Our corporate communications team plays a crucial role in weaving the JustCo story across all eight markets we're proud to operate in. Internally, they work tirelessly to keep our amazing employees informed, engaged and inspired. We understand that a motivated workforce is the heart of our journey to making work better. 

Beyond our internal family, our corporate communications team also works diligently to ensure our brand shines brightly in the public eye. We believe in the power of partnerships and positive relationships to build and amplify our reputation in the Asia Pacific region. Our team is at the forefront of media and public relations, tackling everything from media queries to news announcements with enthusiasm and professionalism. We work closely with our valued stakeholders, both within and outside JustCo, to maintain our brand's integrity and reach. Together, we make sure our brand name echoes across social media, news coverage, and public engagements.

Collaboration is key, so we partner with various teams and departments to create meaningful events, dialogues, and partnerships that foster community engagement and outreach. It's all about crafting a message that resonates with our audience and aligns with our goals.

How has your team created a sense of community and belonging in its premises?
From the start, we envisaged JustCo as more than just a comfortable co-working space. It also had to be a place where people felt connected, supported and motivated to perform at their best. To foster meaningful connections, we partner with our members and external stakeholders to curate a suite of networking, engagement and wellness activities and events that keep our members engaged and well-cared for.

We also design welcoming workspaces with people's needs in mind, which is essential for creating a positive workplace experience.

How can co-working spaces like JustCo enhance industry and community?
Many entrepreneurs and businesses have realised the intangible benefits of co-working, such as the opportunity to connect and collaborate with like-minded individuals and businesses. It is more than just a physical space; it's a thriving community where individuals and businesses can embark on meaningful professional journeys and look forward to meaningful partnerships that can contribute to business growth.

For instance, our centres in Japan organise JustGohan breakfasts, where a renowned “rice sommelier” serves nutritious and hearty Omusubi (traditional Japanese rice balls) to busy members who frequently skip meals.

In Singapore, we have a similar members’ event named 'Self-Love Tuesdays'. JustCo members can enjoy a complimentary breakfast on the last Tuesday of every month, featuring healthier options, as part of our commitment to promoting wellness at work. These breakfast sessions allow our members to start the day on the right note and take good care of their health. Members can also make use of this opportunity to meet other members in a relaxed setting and connect meaningfully at both personal and professional levels.

What leadership qualities do you feel are critical in navigating the challenges and opportunities of the co-working industry?
Just a decade ago, people were still working in traditional offices. Hybrid work was not an option. Now, in 2023, hybrid work solutions have become the key to a more flexible and resilient workforce in a volatile world. As the Co-Founder of a leading flexible workspace operator in Asia, I need to stay nimble, open-minded, and have an appetite for calculated risks.

While we can all imagine how hybrid work will be the future dominant workspace solution, new needs and demands will arise. We will have to be receptive to new work trends and constantly think of how to enhance the overall co-working experience for our members. 

No matter how we stay relevant and adapt to evolving changes, we will always place our customers at the heart of what we do and continue to leverage data to guide our overall strategy of enhancing the co-working experience for everyone.

Photo credit: JustCo

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