The home office is so yesterday. Many freelancers are unwilling to work in their own four walls anymore. While working at home might sound like a terrific idea at first, problems can quickly arise. The home environment can be distracting and disruptive to productive work. Surveys like the one from Deskmag Global Coworking Survey confirm that freelancers are interested in work in communal spaces instead of home offices. A study by the Fraunhofer institute backs up those findings: The trend is away from home-based work and toward external working situations.
Coworking spaces address precisely this need by offering working spaces to creative types and startups — without forcing them to invest in setting up an office. The underlying principle behind coworking spaces is easy to explain: freelancers and startups split an open plan office or industrial space. Infrastructure such as internet, landlines and desks are shared. Freelancers and founders aren't bound to fixed opening hours, but rather can frame their working times flexibly.
One extra benefit of coworking spaces: founders and creative types work shoulder-to-shoulder and can help one another. "When I first started working for myself, I worked in a home office – but the constant distractions were really counterproductive," says Nico Westermann of his own experiences. The media designer decided to move into Dock 3 , a coworking space in the C-HUB creative business center in Mannheim: "It's very easy to talk about projects with other coworkers, to hear their feedback and to talk things through. That's ideal."
The young entrepreneurs often come from different industries and can apply very different problem-solving approaches. Suggestions can be discussed in a relaxed atmosphere, such as during breaks or communal dinners. During the early phases of a business's life, this exchange of ideas and discussions about solutions can be motivating, or even existential: Especially if you don't have time to distribute business cards at networking events.
When founders choose a co-working space, they are typically foregoing their own IT infrastructure. This isn't inherently a problem thanks to Cloud technology that makes data and tools available from any location. For example, a company called Vertical supports companies with the digitization of their workstations. The Frankfurt-based startup provides the entire virtual working environment, including mobile devices such as notebooks and tablets. Instead of high purchase costs, the startups simply pay a monthly fee.
"Vertical's digital workstations help users of coworking space be more flexible," says Paula Martin, CEO of Vertical. "It frees up resources that can instead be used for your daily business." Companies that move their IT onto the Cloud can reduce their operating costs, avoid dependence on specific devices and have an IT partner for support. Many companies are looking toward IT-as-a-service, Paul feels: "The workstation in the Cloud, the digital workplace, is the workplace of the future."
IT in the Cloud reduces the financial load for startups in the founding page. Companies can use services flexibly and increase or decrease their licenses based on real employee headcounts. For coworking spaces in which user volumes often fluctuate, the rental model is a good solution.
At SCALE11, visitors can visit a coworking space erected in the exhibition hall, featuring technology from Vertical. This will help founders keep up with their daily business while at the fair and let them network with other young companies directly on site.
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