At Ftopia, we help companies collaborate better, by enabling them to share documents and files in a simple and elegant manner. Since our motto is « Simply share », we want walk the talk and share ourselves our story as a company. With this blogpost I am starting a series of stories about coworking, which we proudly became a part of. After the launching the brand new version of our service in 2014, we have decided to expand our international operations, and set up a second office in Berlin. Below is our story, why we decided to opt in for a coworking space for our new team.
Most of us have to admit: one might have an awesome job, great colleagues, an exciting product…But there is another pillar to professional well-being which perhaps might not make us look forward impatiently to starting a new working day, but certainly makes working more enjoyable, and it is a great office space.
Unfortunately, if you are a small business, or if your employees are scattered across several countries (at ftopia, we have key contributors working from 5 different countries), it is economically not viable to rent several offices. Not to mention that it is quite boring to work all day long in the friendly yet too silent company of printer and coffee machine, or at home with a cat as their only colleague. That is why coworking has been growing in popularity ever since the first coworking space, 42 West 24, was opened in New York in 1999. Its concept was different from today’s buzzing common working spaces: only a space for working, without any organized events to enhance value for its members. Still, I am sure that 50 coworkers who were occupying 34 desks quickly got to know each other and made the routine more colourful.
15 years later the idea of coworking spaces spread to all major cities and there is an argument not only for freelancers or early-stage startups to join it, but for all kinds of companies (more about it later). In fact, only half of global coworking residents are freelancers, while the other half are entrepreneurs, SMBs, and larger companies. After surveying more than 2000 co-workers worldwide, the Deskmag magazine exposed even more compelling reasons why your company should join the coworking space:
- 71% of respondents reported the increase of creativity since joining;
- ⅗ of respondents admitted that their standards of work have improved;
- 68% of respondents overturned the common claim that coworking spaces can be distracting saying that they were able to focus better (as opposed to 12% who weren’t);
- Ladies, don’t be worried that, after joining a co-working space, you will be surrounded by IT geeks: Europe has the highest proportion of female coworkers standing at 42%.
- a staggering 90% report an increase in self-confidence, probably due to flexible working hours and supportive community.
That’s not even mentioning that renting a desk at a co-working space is significantly cheaper than renting an office. Average rent rate per square foot in New York was USD 50 last year, and renting a desk in the same 42 West 24 is USD 499/month, which includes all services from kitchen to reception area.
Coworking is popular not only in the Western world, but also in Eastern Europe. TechHub Riga is buzzing mainly with startups, but recently a boutique business development consultancy Cormack Consultancy Group decided to join the TechHub tenants, as one of CCG’s daughter companies is IT startup as well. Anna Rozenfelde, the director of Baltic markets at CCG, says that “before this office we used small office in the city center and often we worked from home. Also the clients had unfavourable impression when being greeted by an empty office space. Moving to Techhub solved numerous problems: we have excellent meeting rooms now, lots of colleagues, private Skype call booths, and the clients like the vibe they get from seeing so many active Baltic startups.”
So when it came to expanding internationally for Ftopia and setting up a new team in Berlin, opting for a co-working space was an obvious choice for us. For a newcomer on the local startup scene, the ability to access resources, knowledge contacts from day one is invaluable. Since we are building a new team from scratch, it’s also great to conduct interviews and welcome new members in a creative, playful and inspiring environment.
This is what we’ve found at the Rainmaking Loft Berlin, the rising startup hub, set up by an international partnership of serial entrepreneurs with offices in Berlin, London and Copenhagen. Here we are in the company of 30 other great startup companies, at various stages of development, from Rubycup to Stripe, from EyeFocus Accelerator to Twilio, from SubVise to FormLabs.
But if you haven’t been persuaded by now to opt in for the coworking space, here is a small list of highly practical reasons of why it would be beneficial (besides the great community spirit that you become a part of):
- Central locations: the coworking spaces are usually situated in the centre or close to the city centre which is usually an advantage for commuters;
- Standard collection of office resources included in the price: The standard office “must-have-things” are shared which makes it cheaper compared to buying them yourself: printer, coffee machine, fridge (let alone a fully-equipped kitchen), high-speed wifi, meeting rooms;
- Corporate parties included: Coworking spaces slash some expenses of the small companies: there is almost no need to worry about corporate activities, as most of the places organize their own events on major holidays and often have monthly gatherings
- Effortless networking: networking is an inseparable part of coworking: everyone is always welcome to exchange contacts, to share, and learn from each others’ unique skillsets and experiences.
- Learn something: most coworking spaces are still very much entrepreneur-oriented and sponsor excellent learning workshops and invite many great speakers to visit and present (for example Simon Schneider, the entrepreneur who made multi-million dollar exit out of his last startup). Although it might not totally suit your role profile, it is always a great source of inspiration.
About the author: Kate Kolbina is a marketing and communication coordinator at Ftopia. Russian from Estonia, living in Berlin and being lost in her numerous identities. Jazz-loving bookworm and geocaching enthusiast.