Coworking is a brilliant idea. You’re a nomadic professional, tired of schlepping your laptop and shelling out $2.50/hr in coffee at your local cafe. You’d like to be around interesting folks, learn about their work, and share contacts and experience. College was a luxury of the past; now you miss your 24-hour campus library and comfy dorm couch. So what to do when you’re young, employed, and on the search for the perfect modern office?
Enter coworking, an office-turned-community solution for the modern spirit. As I learned from last week’s Open Everything, coworking spaces are as diverse as the people the frequent them, but the main idea is the same: create a space where you can plug in, wire up, and get some work done — all with the camaraderie of fellow pixel pushers.
The newly opened Betahaus in Berlin is an example of a well-planned space. On the main floor, you have a cafe, lounge, and exhibition hall for events and art installations. One floor up you’ll find plenty of desks which can be rented on by the hour. Wifi is as ubiquitous as oxygen, plus printers, fax machines, and other office kramm abound. One level higher is home to the regular members, who pay by the month for a fixed desk and secure place to leave their stuff. They’re also given a key to come in during closed hours.
The Betahaus is already becoming a studio-of-choice in Germany’s creative captial. Anyone who waited an hour to get into the office’s opening party can attest to that. And as Christoph, one of the Betahaus’s founders, explained at Open Everything, desk contracts are going fast.
But other than a hip home-office hybrid and new friends, what else comes with a coworking space? Well, here’s one idea that really caught my imagination. Patrick, co-founder of Station C in Montreal, introduced me to the concept of travorking — traveling and working.
If you need a change of scenery, pack your bags and head to another city to work remotely. Patrick and his girlfriend Marie are doing just that in Berlin. They found an apartment, a friendly coworking space in Kreuzberg, and set up shop. They explore the city in the evening after work, and during the day they’re at the office, working on projects and getting to know their office mates.
Also struck by wanderlust, Peter and Matze decided to do the travorking trip in reverse. My Berliner buddies have taken off to NYC, where they’re now camped out at The Change You Want To See coworking space in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. They seem pretty happy there, and from what I hear, there’s never a dull moment.
With travorking on the rise, it makes me think there’s a good future in developing a coworking visa. If you’re a paying member at a coworking space in your city, you could go and work at partner offices around the globe on your same contract. I think a visa system would encourage even more travel and strengthen coworking’s network and vibe. It’s definitely a cool mode of work, and I’m happy to see it picking up!