Until recently to know someone who works in a coworking space was a rare privilege. The kind of thing that you boast to your friends about when you want to impress them with your social environment, since you have not yet become sufficiently interesting yourself. Today the bar is raised significantly higher. If the shared space in which you or your friend work can’t offer at least four ping-pong tables, free vending machine and a mandatory Christmas teambuilding in the nearby ski resort… well, there is still a lot to be desired from your professional development.
Let’s suggest that you’re just getting into this relatively new business trend. If you ask Wikipedia, you’ll learn that coworking space is “a style of work that involves a shared working environment, often an office, and independent activity.” Many words with little meaning. Besides, who is interested in some boring definitions anyway? Our goal is to understand how such a space makes a step ahead of the standard office. Are its benefits strictly interior or do they have a practical side as well? Does working close to others makes it easier or more difficult for you to complete your own tasks? Is there an active interaction between the residents or is the preservation of formal distance, inherited from the standart business complexes, still there?
To build yourself through others
1Hub is a place where the importance of the work environment and its enormous contribution to creativity and workflow is well understood. When we asked what do they associate the creative and productive atmosphere expected from coworking spaces with, we learned that ‘it is a very big part of the value we offer our coworkers – productive and energizing work environment in which to build yourself, your business and your network! We believe that when you are focused and persistent in what you do and we on our part think about everything around you so it works entirely for your needs – then your productivity and creativity will surely grow!’
We will not hide that we have a hand in it. The Escreo wall made by us in their office proved to be extremely useful for painting ideas that may one day change the world. Similar designs are common in coworking spaces – the idea of sharing and integration of experiences and ideas is not just set but reaches the roots of the office politics they wish to cultivate among its inhabitants.
Naturally, that raises the first concerns. We know all too well how annoying and frustrating our own colleagues may be at times. Especially when we are looking for solitude in order to rapidly and effectively perform our assigned duties. Now imagine a dozen of people from other companies, whose work will intersections with yours, but in turn also have problems to solve, sitting on the desks next to you. There is a proper risk that noise pollution sends you off the rails. Then why would you abandon the solitude of the private company office?
More costs less
We will seek the answer in another place – Puzl CowOrKing. It took us some time to find the entrance disguised as a solid metal door, the likes of which can be found in factory warehouses. But at the moment we stepped inside, we understand how misleading appearances can be. They lead us through a series of giant rooms, each with its own and sometimes really quirky design. Our guide was the barefoot and smiling Thibaut Taittinger, founder and CEO. On the way we make a stop in one of the meeting rooms, where we’re met by an old cutting table – part of the old “Vitosha” factory. We raise our brows unintentionally and don’t hide that the unique interior design impresses us. ‘We try to think outside the box for everything we build,’ says Thibaut proudly. ‘In Puzl CowOrKing we make our custom desks, shelves, arcades, even sinks!’
Soon the chief navigator Petya Lipeva joins our tour. If we thought Thibault was smiling, Petya completely overshadows him. Their combined energy is contagious. However, we decided not to obstruct the regular inhabitants of the area and headed to a secluded room to continue our conversation.
‘Standard offices usually host one company within a specific space per m2’, said Petya. ‘A coworking environment offers you one or many seats within an office full of people with whom you can share and interact. You practically rent a seat which gives you a full inclusive package.’ Thibaut draws our attention to yet another plus. Imagine being surrounded by entire community which shares similar attitudes and objectives to you and go through the same challenges. Which helps you develop personally and professionally. And it’s always there if you feel like going out for an occasional beer after work. What better way to increase creativity and productivity?
It is possible to find even more practical use. Each company aims to cut costs from interior improvements without sacrificing the welfare of its employees. Coworking spaces offer optimize their work environment with all facilities such as kitchens, relax rooms, fitness halls and projection rooms. Potential minus for some people is sharing these “goodies” with all the other occupants of the space. This may lead to disputes, misunderstandings and accumulation of tension. Fortunately, Puzl CowOrKing have a solution for that.
‘The people in Puzl CowOrKing are united because we’re focused only in the IT sphere. Each company and professional working here is part of the growing Sofia IT scene. Therefore, the creative environment in the office organically forms and nurtures a vibrant community.’
In “Zero to one” Peter Thiel indicates something very important: ‘Employees need to love their work. They have to walk into the office with such pleasure that working time becomes a formality and no one’s looking at his watch.’ This rule applies even stronger for shared work spaces. They should create an atmosphere of coziness and predisposition, but that’s the easy part. The hard one comes when you realize that such a situation should encourage the worker to rest without falling into idleness and to make him productive and energetic at the same time.
We make our next stop in Betahaus – the first shared workspace in Bulgaria. It has established itself as a social site where you may encounter startups, entrepreneurs, freelancers and innovators. We come across so many things there that we are itching to try everything. That includes foosball, old arcades, a kitchen, a bar, 3D printer, betalab with all kinds of gadgets, planes and donkeys, turned into desks, event chairs and microphones. We ourselves have also left a trail with an Escreo wall at the bottom of Betacafe. We know that it’s often used by anyone who needs to record a brilliant whim while drinking cappuccino. Even pets pass us by fro a time to time. The variety speaks for itself and the advantages it offers. But what problems would rise up if you take off the rose-colored glasses?
‘Any creative environment that serves the interests of so many different companies creates a lot of desire and a common creed – everyone has the right to work happily’, confidently proclaims Gergana Dzhevelieva, head of the marketing department. Hence our next question – does this not lead to some potential misunderstandings? ‘This has not happened so far, even in our shared kitchen. The occupants rather interact. Be it testing the games just before their official release or through sales and marketing support. After all, you never know – there can be a marketing guru standing on the desk next to you…”
Sharing is caring
Coworking spaces may not be a spoon for every mouth, but that’s not their purpose. They do not want to be the foundation on which to build the scaffolding of your business, but an auxiliary material and perhaps the glue which to put your ideas and practices together with. Mission in which Escreo largely reinvents itself.
Here’s how to improve your office even further by choosing the right colors.