Found8: Anchored by adaptability and flexibility in stormy weather

While the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has changed the world in many ways for the worse, it has also pushed individuals and businesses to innovate in order to survive.

IDEA Communication spoke to four such industry players to find out what they’ve done during this crisis to keep their businesses sustainable, and beneficial to their target markets.

In Part 2 of our four-part series on how businesses have been impacted by the pandemic and how they’ve adapted to the new normal, we speak to Grace Sai, Co-Founder and Head of Corporate Innovation at Found8, Asia’s largest co-working entrepreneurial community.

The Singapore-based start-up also has offices in Malaysia, and offers products and services such as corporate innovation, virtual office memberships, and flexible co-working products. It has partnered with Google for Start-ups to organize networking sessions and offer perks, mentorship and capacity-building programmes to members.

Adaptability key to weathering adversity

Sai told IDEA that the pandemic has indeed affected Found8’s business severely, hampering the company’s ability to provide its members with usage of its spaces and services. Despite this, however, it has managed to develop products and services — particularly its virtual office memberships and flexible co-working products — to help its members adapt to life under lockdown.

“While 100% of our team had to work remotely, we took the opportunity during the lockdown to embark on various mini projects to prepare for the ‘new normal’, such as repurposing our teams to innovate new products, and conducting various internal workshops.

“Thankfully, due to the strong community we had built, we did not lose many members during this time.”

This minimized loss could easily be attributed to Found8’s pro-activeness in offering its members perks, such as extending its 30% discount for three months for all members.

“We did this because it was the right thing to do, as we care deeply for our members. We see them as an extension of our larger family,” said Sai.

Internal initiatives

While ensuring its customers remained confident in the products and services it provided, Found8 also had to focus on making sure its employees were taken care of during the pandemic. According to Sai, clear and constant communication among team members was at the forefront of this objective.

“As 100% of our team members are working remotely, it was more important than ever for us to have constant communication with one another. As an organization, Found8 took the necessary steps to ensure that all our employees had access to the resources they needed to perform their roles effectively from home,” she revealed.

“We went above and beyond to allow team members to bring home ergonomic office chairs, and gave everyone one day of paid personal leave every month to support with their well-being. We also organized an Internal Career Fair for teams with some downtime to innovate and contribute to new products and services suitable for a post-COVID world.”

Preparing for a post-COVID world

Though it’s difficult to say when governments will ease restrictions on business operations in these uncertain times, Found8 has prepared itself for such a time, having launched two types of new products and services to address COVID-19 pain points.

These products and services — namely, virtual community memberships and ultra-flexible co-working plans, were created to meet the changing needs of its members and consumers.

Sai said “We understand the concerns people may have regarding returning to office, which is why what we have prepared is geared towards the ‘hybrid’ model that combines work, co-working spaces and working from home as the new norm.

“As we reopen, Found8 will be highly focused on maintaining a clean and safe environment for all our members and employees, and we’re excited to welcome them back again, and to emerge from this crisis even stronger together.”

Helena Ma brings with her a wealth of experience and a truly cosmopolitan perspective, having lived and worked in Shanghai, China; Gothenburg, Sweden; and London, UK. Her stints in Europe and China has armed Helena with a potent blend of ancient Chinese wisdom and contemporary Western knowledge which she incorporates into business management and client project