The life of an entrepreneur can be a lonely one in the beginning and all on a tight budget with no money for meeting rooms. In Yangon, coffee shops with WiFi continue to multiply like mushrooms, but with the lack of home-internet coverage in Myanmar, they’ve also taken on the identity of an upgraded cybercafé.
While the social aspect is great and they can be convenient places to meet with a client or get some work done, the questions to ask are, do they make the right impression for your company and is it the most productive office life for you?
The answers all depend on what kind of work you are trying to get done and what environment make the best impression and is conducive to professional discussions. Hintha Business Centres has weighed up some pros and cons of co-working spaces vs coffee shops for you to consider. Take a look and let us know if you have more points to add for the hub of entrepreneurial activity that Yangon has developed into.
Coffee shops – pros
They’re almost everywhere – While still relatively new to Yangon, you probably do not have to walk very far to find one. This short commute can be convenient for the freelancer and startup entrepreneur, and if you want to venture to a different part of town, you’re likely to find one there too.
Free Wi-Fi – For the price of a coffee, you can hangout and use the internet Most coffee shops in Yangon offer free Wi-Fi so it is easy to take care of e-mails, do research online, etc. It’s a real bonus if do not have internet at home or if you are more productive when you get out of the house to get work done, but if you need to exchange large files, take a skype call or download heavy content, you might be in for a very long wait.
Caffeine and treats – In addition to good coffee, Yangon’s coffee shops have teamed up with artisanal providers of cakes and pies for an array of local and western snacks enticing you work hard and reward yourself with a treat.
Spontaneous – Coffee shops are usually relaxed settings and you never quite know who you are going to run into. If casual settings work best for you, with music and people chatting or reading the paper in the background, then this may be your regular office. Also, if you have clients that appreciate a more informal meeting space, a public coffee shop might be the right choice for your next business move.
Coffee shops – cons
Loud – When holding a private conversation or need to focus, the background noise may not be the optimal environment. You can’t influence the other visitors and the chances are high of a child banging spoons on the table or a neighbouring conversation encroaching on your space. Headphones can block out all the disturbances but then what is the point of choosing this environment to work at?
Sidetracking – Whether you really dislike the distractions, like those mentioned above, or maybe you are a people person and want to meet other like-minded folks, but the fact is a distraction is a distraction. When other people in the space are not there to work, it can be difficult to keep your mind from wandering and next thing you know you’ve sidetracked way off course.
Limited ‘desk’ space – Tables in coffee shops are designed for cups, plates and food…not a laptop, documents, a latte and a scone with ergonomic seating. There is barely room for your laptop, never mind discussing a project while your project partner also has laptop and coffee on the table. You may end up crying over spilt milk.
Patchy Wi-Fi – The old adage applies – nothing in life is free. A café is just like your business, it has a mission and that is to offer quality food and drink. Providing great Wi-Fi is an added bonus, but not the raison d’etre of the business. So when there are twenty different devices connecting to it, sometimes the bandwidth is stretched and you find out that you are not getting online or each page takes three minutes to load.
Must buy something – The business of a coffee shop is to make money off of food and drink sales. It would be your goal too, if it were your business. Using their space as a workplace means you will be buying food or a drink every time you go here to work, perhaps more so than if you were just meeting a friend for a chat. Additionally, if you plan to stick around for a number of hours, many people feel pressured to buy something else after a couple of hours. This can get pricey, and used day after day, it can add up.
Coworking spaces – pros
Reliable infrastructure – The purpose of serviced working spaces is to make sure you have a great space to get work done. This means reliable internet, printers, power outlets, and other things that make working easier are maintained and in working condition. Hintha Business Centres at Merchant Street and Sule Square just happen to have great coffee too!
Casual or formal – You can still choose your own dress code and use the coworking space alongside everyone else in a communal, fairly laid-back area or rent a private office space or meeting room if you need a confidential discussion or just zero distractions at all.
Work environment – You’re surrounded by like-minded people all with the aim to focus and get work done. Approach it like a gym membership. You could do pushups and sit-ups in your living room, but you will probably end up sitting on the sofa watching TV. But when everyone else around you is working out, it pressures us to do the same, and Hintha Business Centres have been set up to be conducive to that activity. A coworking space is purposefully designed to be conducive to work and you can share your ideas and leverage knowledge from other entrepreneurs.
Designated meeting spaces – If you have an important pitch or meeting, and first impressions count, Hintha Business Centres on Merchant Street and at Sule Square have meeting rooms you can hire. Greeting your clients and potential business partners needs a professional approach, one that isn’t interrupted and has all the technology you need to nail success.
Natural network – We like to think of it as a community where you can meet all kinds of professionals who are happy to contribute to their knowledge and expertise when possible. Perhaps you need to run an idea by a marketing expert or a freelance bookkeeper or ask where to get something translated. Hintha Business Centres are more than just a place to work, they are a resource for help with every stage of your company or project development.
Refreshments and a fridge – When you book a desk at Hintha serviced offices in Yangon, it comes with complimentary coffee and tea, as well as a fridge for your lunch storage. Not only do you get a productive place to work, but you save money on eating out and buying cups of coffee, tea or juices.
Flexible – Hintha Business Centres have time-based solutions to meet your flexible working hour needs – be it by the hour, a monthly membership or more permanent. It all depends on your budget and how long you are going to be in Yangon, but flexibility is something we understand well.
Coworking spaces – cons
Only one location – We have thought long and hard, but can only come up with one con, and that’s our limited location option for just one co-working space. While coffee shops are located all over the city, our Merchant Street location for coworking spaces offer communal areas as well as private offices. While your commute may be further than down the street to the local coffee shop, Merchant Street is where serious business takes focus. Depending on your lifestyle and work needs, this may or may not be a fit.
Clearly Hintha Business Centres offer coworking spaces with more pros than cons, especially if compared to coffee shops. Whether it’s getting feedback on your product in real time, asking for a recommendation on a service provider, or simply grabbing a beer after work, the invaluable power of the entrepreneurial community is a natural bonus to your Hintha coworking space.
Discover our flexible offers on workspace solutions and try working in places that are conducive to your success , it’s not as expensive as you may thing.
Hintha’s Brand Story
Our logo shows two Hintha (or Hamsa) birds. The ancient tale is that a female Hintha bird rested on the back of her partner as he perched on a tiny rock waiting for the floodwaters to subside. At Hintha Business Centres, we support businesses and groups as they find their way in the Myanmar market.
The female Hintha, placed centrally, highlights how we put the client at the centre of what we do. It mirrors the support we offer clients from all over the world as they become established in the dynamic business environment of Myanmar.
p.s. We also serve great coffee!