Digital nomads are the 21st century’s hottest new tribe. And in their bid to travel the world and make money at the same time, they are calling for co-working spaces - lot’s of them. Offices adorned with the latest tech that offer a laidback, collaborative and ultramodern place to work. There are currently over 2,500 co-working spaces throughout Europe, which has been quick to meet the growing demand for flexible, affordable, and community-focused work environments. So which European cities are doing the best at embracing the co-working scene?
In March, Vienna was named the best city to live in for the ninth year running. That’s right: quality of life in Vienna has gone unbeaten for nine years. And, at least for freelancers and entrepreneurs, this may well have something to do with the city’s buzzing coworking scene. One example is LOFFICE - the winner of several awards for the best coworking station in Europe. Providing support for new startups, LOFFICE seeks to share space - but also knowledge and experience. Then there’s also Maker Austria, which provides all the usual office apparatus, plus laser cutting machines, 3D printing, a woodworking shop and space for sewing, weaving and other textile work - just in case you feel like some embroidery in your lunch break.
Berlin is known worldwide for its future-forward enterprising spirit - so no surprise that it’s also a pioneering force in the coworking world, offering plenty of collaboration platforms for tech-savvy young professionals. Examples include Agora Collective, located in trendy Neukölln and which includes a cafe, garden and workshops on activities like urban gardening. Then there’s Space Shack, with its minimalist decor, sharp lines and white walls - minimal but not so minimal that it doesn’t include bean-bags, that co-working space staple. And finally, Factory Berlin, which has been home to companies such as SoundCloud and Siemens and where fresh faces on the start-up block can work alongside more established tech businesses.
The so-called Capital of Europe gets a bad rep for being a city of bureaucracy and bad weather. But in fact it’s a happening hub of innovation and international exchange - as confirmed by its many co-working spaces. For example, Transforma bxl, where you can use all the equipment, drink all the coffee - yes, all of the coffee - and also have access to a garden full of organic vegetables. Or there’s Factory Forty, which never closes - because inspiration doesn’t sleep - and which, in what must be the ultimate antithesis of the traditional corporate space, has a large garden with vegetables and chickens, a pond with frogs, plus bees, and that coworking classic: a pingpong table.
Athens has historically been a centre of art, culture, politics and philosophy. And so co-working spaces, with their ethos of bringing together people, projects and ideas, come naturally to the city. One example is The Cube Athens, located in the heart of the city and which hosts 20 different startup companies and also, according to its website, encourages its members to “be humble” and “accept failure” - sounds just like the laid-back message we like. Then there’s Impact Hub Athens which provides chilled out vibes and all the facilities you might need to get the job done - although it has to be said that its proximity of the Acropolis does make procrastination that little bit easier.
Barcelona ranks among the top 10 cities for doing business in the world and this naturally entails some pretty great co-working spaces. One example is Makers of Barcelona, also known as MOB - although this is the most creative and collaborative ‘mob’ you’re ever likely to find. A 1,000 square metre space located in an old textile factory, it has dedicated relaxation spaces complete with rocking chairs, a speciality coffee corner called Milk & Co, and even in-house lawyers for legal advice. Plus there’s also the Fabcafe, where you can experiment with cutting edge technologies like 3D printers and laser cutters while simultaneously enjoying a cup of tea. But while it might sound like MOB steals the show, there are plenty of other spaces worth checking out, including Cloud Coworking, Betahaus and Crec.
That Lisbon is a hub for start-ups is no longer a secret. Thanks to its accelerator program - The Lisbon Challenge - the city is a veritable nucleus for innovative young companies and these companies need somewhere to work. Possible options include Coworklisboa, with its community of designers, programmers and photographers. Or Beta-i, which has supported over 500 Portuguese start-ups with a space that includes a terrace, pot-plants, views of rooftops, and the ability to bring your dog to work - all the most important things, right?
London has over 30 co-working spaces. Examples include WeWork, which has over 50,000 members worldwide, offering members the chance to connect to potential colleagues and customers around the world.Then there’s the delightfully named Huckletree with an Instagram profile that claims that it’s for “renegades, rebels, and thought leaders”. The space has all the features you might except of a quirky millennial office: a meditation yurt, a ride-in-bike ramp, and a VR/AR studio.
The Sentier district in Paris has long been a centre for small businesses and has now evolved into a neighbourhood of startups and coworking spaces. One such space is Remix, with its hip and welcoming atmosphere. Or there’s Volumes, home to ‘Makers Space’, an onsite workshop with a laser cutter, milling machine and 3D printer, and a food lab where food startups, chefs, and amateurs, can engage in some gastronomical experimenting. Finally worth mentioning is Numa, an edgy industrial loft space full of potted plants, velvet couches, plenty of cosy little nooks to settle yourself into, and which also offers training, accelerator classes and mentors.
Whichever city you choose, one thing is clear: Europe is waving goodbye to the traditional office model with its cubicles, harsh lighting and ugly carpets. Cities around the continent are offering cool new spaces where you can work, connect, share, collaborate - and mess around with 3D printers or pick some organic carrots too.
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