Bridging The Distance: Marcus Lim
A flexible workspace that combines modern office necessities with dynamic programming —we chat with Marcus Lim, Head of Flexible Workspace & Community Experience at CapitaLand, about the unique community elements infused into the new co-working centre, Bridge+ 79 Robinson Road.
Some of us may have taken our offices for granted. Coming into a space that has been primed for productivity, one that encourages collaboration with team members—all of this was something one may never realise they would miss, until it was briefly taken away. Recent times have shown us the need to overhaul the traditional paradigm of an office, and made us realise that the most crucial parts of a workplace aren’t just its physical infrastructure.
Bridge+ 79 Robinson Road is CapitaLand’s flexible workspace and business community platform that was newly constructed in January 2021, following the debut of its flagship co-working centre at Ascent in Singapore Science Park 1 in 2017. It hopes to bridge different forms of distance: whether it’s bringing a social touch back to work through its programming, enabling the development of a FinTech hub, or fostering new relationships within the community.
We spoke with Marcus Lim, Head of Flexible Workspace & Community Experience at CapitaLand about how Bridge+ 79 Robinson Road is helping to shape the future of work, and the joys of being able to return to the office.
1. As Bridge+ 79 Robinson Road was constructed in the midst of a pandemic, how was the design and space shaped to support individuals and businesses?
We had to adjust our space planning and operating procedures to accommodate the immediate emphasis on our members’ safety and well-being, and the potential changes as things improved.
To give ourselves the flexibility and agility to toggle accordingly, we established spaces that support either distancing or discussion, provide privacy or forge vibrancy. Anticipating the need for cultural personalisation, we gave room for customisation within the office suites.
2. What do you think is the importance of a flexible workspace like Bridge+ 79 Robinson Road?
Launching a new co-working solution at a time when in-person interactions were suspended was pretty daunting. How long would this last? When would people come back to the office? Those were our worries (laughs).
While there were opinion pieces about the death of the office, we realised that absence makes the heart grow fonder. The serendipity that emerges when people are working in the same space cannot be replicated in video calls. Moments like a social "hi” or the sight of familiar faces make a difference to our sense of being.
Bridge+ 79 Robinson Road offers a mix of purpose-driven workspace solutions such as meeting rooms (first and second photo) and private suites (third photo) that enhance the connectivity and productivity of businesses and their employees.
3. Share three key elements of a good flexible workspace:
Being able to make people feel comfortable at work is the most important. There are a few layers to this: firstly, the space must feel home-like. There should be familiar faces that one can connect to; we have our Community Ambassadors who look after the needs of our members.
Bridge+ 79 Robinson Road also offers a variety of meeting and working spaces—this accommodates the different working modes and moods of the professionals using our space. There are corners you can go to if you need a quiet moment; if you don’t mind socializing, you can hang out at the Social Hub, where coffee and fruits are provided.
The sense of movement and momentum delivers the positive kinetic energy that makes work fun and engaging. Social amenities like the café and event spaces play an important role in bringing people together, while the Sky Terrace located in the office tower offers respite in the middle of the day.
Last but not least, it’s the light touches.
Simple things like coffee, tea, fruits, and biscuits—these fuel your day even without you noticing.
4. We understand that there are various community engagement programmes at Bridge+ 79 Robinson Road. Could you share more?
We want to work with our members to help them make the best out of their stay. Ideally, we hope to see our members making progress in their business, and professional and social relationships during their time with us. As a host of the workspace, we have the privilege to be connected with every member, and some of our members may benefit from having such connections too.
At Bridge+ Ascent, we used to create opportunities to bring our members and the tenant community together, for festive celebrations and wellness programmes, and to support social causes. Unfortunately, all these activities have been put on a pause. We can’t wait to resume them.
On the business and professional front, we support the development of ‘tribes’ in Bridge+ to encourage knowledge sharing, cross-fertilisation of ideas, and multi-disciplinary collaboration. These business communities include FinTech (financial technology), blockchain, sustainability, smart cities, entrepreneurship, etc.
At Bridge+ 79 Robinson Road, we’re working with the stakeholders of the FinTech ecosystem to organise community activities. In collaboration with our community partners, we created and launched the Bridge+ Fintech Odyssey as our signature activity during the Singapore Fintech Festival x Singapore Week of Innovation & TeCHnology (SWITCH) in December 2020. Since then, we’ve hosted several hybrid events at our event spaces.
5. Who are some interesting members that make up the Bridge+ community at 79 Robinson Road?
We are very fortunate to have attracted several companies who are creating impact in their respective domains at Bridge+ 79 Robinson Road. Tribe is a Singapore-based deep tech innovation platform which has grown rapidly in recent years.
Through their initiatives to support the deep tech ecosystem, they’ve supported their startups in raising more than US$70 million to date. They have more than 60 corporations in their global network, including Pfizer, HSBC, and Infineon Technologies. We’ve seen them making really good use of the facilities here to support their business growth.
Another interesting member we have is Barramundi Group, one of the largest aquaculture companies farming Barramundi in the ocean. They made Bridge+ 79 Robinson Road their headquarters as they could see their fish farm in the Singapore's Southern Islands from their new office!
6. Where’s your favourite corner of Bridge+ 79 Robinson Road?
Awfully Chocolate at Bridge+ 79 Robinson Road: it’s where I get my caffeine fix, and an occasional indulgence in their famous chocolate cake.
A café is an integral part of a flexible workspace solution. Coffee in workplaces cannot be understated; it’s a very powerful social glue. When we were setting up Bridge+ 79 Robinson Road, we scouted for partners who share the same aspiration with us, who don’t see coffee as just F&B, but as something that can lead to a bigger purpose.
Awfully Chocolate shares our conviction. Taking advantage of the space we have at Bridge+ 79 Robinson Road, we introduced our first café lounge concept. The café is open to the public: we’d like our tenants and neighbours of 79 Robinson Road to enjoy the offerings.
7. What does your typical day look like?
In addition to Bridge+, I lead the Workspace Community Experience team, which curates and communicates our signature CapitaLand Workspace experience.
This includes initiatives to foster online and in-person engagement and interaction with our tenant community across Singapore, projects to improve the user experience of our properties, and programmes to uphold our service standards and delivery.
The new workplace will be an ecosystem of spaces, places, and experiences. We’re constantly striving to shape the future of workspaces by making calibrated adjustments to how our tenants interact with our services.
For most of 2020, I had a rather dysfunctional relationship with Microsoft Teams. These days, you can find me zipping across the spaces in Bridge+ 79 Robinson Road, popping in and out of meeting rooms, the café, or gazing out at the sea. It’s great to be able to return to the office (laughs).
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