Co-working at first hand

Two years ago I wrote a post about co-working spaces and their blossoming popularity with Germany’s freelancers. Though the idea appealed, back then I was still enjoying the quiet and ease of working in my own living room. More recently my feelings changed – why, I am not sure, but the dining table became rather too solitary and the familiarity of the pictures on the wall claustrophobic instead of concentration-inducing.

It was time, it seemed, to get out of the flat at last and rent a desk. My research proved useful. At first, I thought I would look in small office spaces – perhaps one room, shared with a just a few other freelancers. But as I looked around the many desks on offer locally, the large, well-equipped spaces seemed far more attractive. I liked the lofty ceilings, newly installed galley kitchens, and the general buzz and entertainment provided by gang of young, mostly-bearded coders, invariably working for some start up or other, using the same space.

So that is how I come to find myself writing this blog at a pale wooden desk with a proper office chair, in a large warehouse-sized, Hinterhof  (back courtyard) building, plastic chandeliers hanging from the ceiling, a pug sniffing at my feet, and new bearded friends offering to make me cups of tea.

As these things go, it is relatively inexpensive. I can spend 9 days a month here (enough for now, though given how much better I concentrate, perhaps I will up it) for just over EUR 100 (incl. MWS – the German equivalent of VAT). For that, I can use the printer, the kitchen, the bathroom facilities, and the conference room for phone calls (or indeed meetings, if I ever needed to organise one of those). Getting set up was very straightforward. I sent them an email, dropped by for a visit, came for a trial day, and then, on liking it, booked myself in for a month (no interview to decide whether they liked me!). I can cancel or increase the number of days I come at any time.

The impact on my work is interesting. When here, I am more productive. That sense of paying to be somewhere drives me on ferociously. I dare not waste a second. And, I feel happier – seeing other people work and watching the rhythms of their days in moments of distraction – which in turn improves the quality of what I do.

Sometimes, I regret adding a level of unnecessary complication. I cannot flit out of the house for the KiTa run, only worrying about whether I’ve packed a snack for the children. Now I need my laptop, notebook, and a snack for me too (food, along with teabags, they don’t provide). Sometimes, I am struck by the absurdity of becoming a freelancer to escape the confines of the office only then to recreate an office of my own accord. But then, I chose this one and can decide how often I come. This desk connects me to the commercial life of this city, not just my distant colleagues in London – a new sense of arrival after three years of solitary freelancing.

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About Chloe D

Freelance writer, blogger and marketer, Chloe grew up in Hull, England, and then studied History and German in Oxford. During her student year abroad, she fell in love with Berlin and vowed to return one day. Following a seven-year stint living and working in London in publishing and education consultancy, she married a German, and moved to Berlin, where she still lives with her husband and five-year-old twins.

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