Co working: Productivity and Networking Boost

Co working is a great way to be more productive, to network and meet other freelancers or workers from different countries. This article features co-working spaces I visited in Berlin.

Co working, don’t we all ?

Most employees do already co work, in a way. They share a work location and services such as a printer, parking space and staff kitchen.
Co working in the more contemporary version of the word refers to a different phenomenon: small businesses (+- 5 to 10 people) and freelancers who need flexible solutions share a work floor or sometimes a whole building to perform their business activities. The location is managed by a co working organisation with whom the small business or freelancer can register and pay a monthly fee to use an office or workspace.
As a small business owner this means not having to look for a property yourself, sign a 9 year lease, decorate, renovate, find a plumber or electrician… No, the co working organisation takes care of all that.

Berlin based co working

I spent a few months in Berlin this year, networking was important because when you’re new somewhere it’s a good plan to establish contacts with other freelancers/ like minded people / creatives. Working outside of the house is also a great productivity boost so I decided to check out some co working spaces.
I experienced the concept of co working for the first time during a Beta breakfast at Betahaus. The Beta breakfast is a recurring event during which start-ups or small businesses can pitch their idea in front of an audience. As a participant this allows you to hear the stories of other self employed people and draw inspiration from their journey. The audience is small, this allows participants enough time to ask questions and thus create a dialogue. It’s an opportunity to network and yes there’s breakfast too! The ticket to attend Beta Breakfast gives you access to their co working space for the whole afternoon, which allows you to have a trial (half) day and experience first hand what it’s like to co work at this location.
I attended the breakfast at their office in Kreuzberg, Rudi Dutschke Strasse 23

A very cosy co working space that offers daycare for freelancers with small children is Juggle Hub in Prenzlauer Berg. This company was founded by Silvia and Katja, who can regularly be found at the reception where you’ll receive a warm welcome.  The reception desk also hosts a bar where you can get a fresh cappuccino or cookies. The couch and armchairs in the little adjacent lounge make you feel right at home. The office/working spaces are not huge, meaning it’s not a place where you’ll sit with 100 other freelancers, however along with the relaxed atmosphere this gives this venue a hygge feeling.
Juggle Hub, Christburger Strasse 23, Prenzlauer Berg

A third co working venue that also hosts interesting events is the Betahaus office in Neukölln. The Freelancers Unite! event regularly takes place in this location. This activity offers the possibility to introduce yourself to a group of other participating freelancers, to exchange ideas and/or possibly work together on a project. Again; great if you’re new in Berlin. The Neukölln location has a garden so you can enjoy some greenery and fresh air during a lunchbreak or pause.

Must haves

When working from behind a desk for a few hours it’s important to have both an ergonomic desk and chair available. An old dinner table someone found at a jumble sale or second-hand store might look good in your living room but won’t necessarily be the correct working height for everyone. All the locations I mentioned have professional office equipment so your shoulders and neck will be grateful!
Affordability is definitely important as well; monthly membership for freelancers starts as from € 99 (check the website of any coworking facility for the most up-to date info)

Nice to have

Free coffee and tea are included so you won’t have to bring your own thermos or search for the nearest coffeebar (unless you want something fancy like a cappuccino ;)
It’s possible to bring your own lunch and eat it in the kitchen, this is also a good moment for some informal networking with your peers. Betahaus for instance has an on-site canteen or small restaurant where you can buy lunch if you want to eat out.
Berlin is known for being a hip(ster) city, which is reflected in the co working spaces; colour and design play an important role in how the work spaces look. I for one really appreciate the clean, slightly industrial look with a dash of colour or even some vintage furniture because it’s important to feel compfortable and productive in the place your work.

*photo credit main image Marten Bjork on Unsplash

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