SpainExpatBlog: Coworking spaces in Spain
Shared workspace is a rising trend in Spain, and Barcelona is reportedly verging on having the highest density of coworking spaces in the world. Britt explores Spain's coworking scene.
If you find yourself in Europe, working independently in whatever profession and thus working from a 'home office', you might find yourself in the same position as me: Easily distracted by constantly taking a quick break to do laundry, play with the cat, clean the windows, take out the recycling, run to the store, take a quick bike ride...anything and everything that your brain can throw at you to keep you from the task at hand – that of making money.
Or, you just might find yourself working an awful lot, leaving the house only when your refrigerator has nothing but some old garlic cloves and condiments in it, which makes for a lonely existence after a few months.
There is a fabulous solution to the above problems, one that has a benefit that far outweighs its cost. I am talking about cowork spaces: those desks or shared offices you rent on a weekly, monthly, sometimes even daily basis. They've been a big hit in the US for a while, especially for tech workers, and are gaining momentum quickly all over Europe.
I should say more momentum, as there are over 100 in Barcelona alone – and this is not a big city geographically by any stretch. And coworking spaces here tend to have a theme: web workers, designers, digital nomads, creative arts, writers, and even what you might call crafters – jewellry and clothing makers and those who create real things that are not viewed on a screen and are not printed out.
I rent a permanent desk for EUR 150 a month. And while working from home would save me the equivalent of USD 200 a month, my productivity levels cover that cost in less than a week. So if you ask me if it is worth it, I would fall over myself telling you just how worth it it is. And not only for the productivity, but for the interaction with others that it gives you. My cowork space has a WhatsApp group that chats and send photos to everyone. And we have a monthly dinner together. We also have plans to have each coworker that wants to participate give a presentation about what it is they do. These will be scheduled the first Thursday of the month, and each person gets 15 minutes. It's like free business advertising and networking.
My coworking space during a bank holiday.
Other cowork spaces around town range from around what I pay – though there are places for less – up to EUR 400 a month for amazing shared spaces with terraces in the posh part of town (I am in an industrial area – in fact my office is the six floor of a converted warehouse). Nearly all the cowork spaces have meeting rooms, some type of kitchen, and lounge area. Many of them have monthly or even weekly events. Some, like mine, allow 24/7 access by means of keys and alarm codes, while others have specific hours. (I happen to be typing this in my cowork space at 7:45 on a Sunday evening – or afternoon, as it would be considered here in Spain).
Because the ROI for me is so high – that is, the space pays for itself in just a week because I am more focused, complete projects sooner, and thus bill for them sooner – an indulgence presents itself on those days when I don't want to make the effort to go to the office. Instead, I stay home and work. If you have ever worked in a corporate office, you will recall those days when you would give anything to just not have to go into the office. When I am too lazy to take the 15 minute bike ride, I live out the fantasy that I am just saying screw you to 'the man' and refusing to go to the office. Such a treat.
The options are endless about what schedule you can arrange, as most owners are very willing to accomodate you to bring you in – basically anything you can think up ie. two days a week, eight days a month, sharing with a friend, or reduced rates for an entire small company. To get an idea of what is out there, if you are in Spain a great site to check is Comunidad Coworking. For the rest of Europe and the world (Spain included), check out ShareDesk.net and DeskMag.com.
It's a concept that works for travel too. If you can work anywhere, why not take advantage of it? I am planning on taking an extended break to the Canary Islands soon and staying/working at The Surf Office.
PS: Just read an article about coworking and its reported that Barcelona is on the verge of becoming the city with the highest coworking spaces density in the world!
Britt Bohannan Arechiga is an American currently living in Spain, the fifth foreign country she has called home. She has spent the last four years in Barcelona working as a freelance editorial and technical writer and for local magazines and businesses and runs SpainExpatBlog.com.
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