Have work, seeking table, electricity and WiFi. That’s how it goes in the world of the “digital nomad”. Mostly young, they either work freelance or are trying to get their start-up off the ground and have no money for an office of their own. Sometimes they simply enjoy the company of other office hoppers. And there are a lot of them! In its Global Coworking Survey 2019, the workplace magazine Deskmag.com predicted that by the end of 2019, 2.2 million people will be working in approximately 22,000 coworking spaces across the globe. The survey is carried out annually, and the forecasts for 2020 are not yet available. Nomad lists are circulating on the Internet, where cities are ranked according to factors such as Internet speed, rental costs and weather. Vienna and Munich are ranked 39 and 40, with a considerable number of locations in Southeast Asia at the very top. The weather was probably a major factor in this, but let’s get back on track. The Deskmag.com study is about creating a community, but for many individual entrepreneurs proximity is much more important. How close it is to their apartment, to their next appointment – that kind of thing. How about sitting down at a nearby coffee shop with a laptop? A lot of people do this, but it’s far from optimal. It’s loud, which makes it harder to concentrate. And this is exactly where platforms such as “WeWork” have been coming into play for a while now.
“Spacious“, meanwhile taken over by “WeWork”, for example, offered “drop-in” places based on day passes – in New York and San Francisco restaurants. Yes, you read that right. In restaurants. To say it more precisely, restaurants that are otherwise closed during the day – or would have been. Instead, young people sit with their laptops between the wine racks or at the bar and work. High-speed Internet is standard, as is free coffee when you arrive. The idea definitely has something. Tables and chairs are already at hand, the space would probably be heated anyway. Thomas Reisenzahn, managing director of the tourism consultancy Prodinger is non-committal. “Restaurants at first-class addresses have expensive rents and are difficult to manage from an economic point of view. Vienna’s 1st district, for example, is full of restaurants that only open in the evening. So the unused time could be very well used for coworking.” But here’s the thing. “The conversion is a logistical challenge, the activities before and after the restaurant opening hours are completely different. A possible additional turnover has to be earned with expensive working hours.” Can this be combined with mise en place? With the boss’s office job? Each person can only answer this for themselves.
One person who would like to try it is Martin Rohla, managing partner at Goodshares Consulting. He’s the man behind the project “Weitsicht Cobenzl” (Foresight Cobenzl). The area around Cobenzl Palace in Vienna will be put to new use starting in early summer 2021. A café, pop-up kitchen, event location and coworking spaces are all envisaged. We talk to Rohla about the latter. “Cobenzl is a special location, it has character.” Meetings, conventions, weddings – the historic location is becoming a flexible location. However, it will of course not always be booked. “We’re considering the dairy and the big castle. We would like to offer coworking places here that can be booked by the day.” The experienced investor does not see a problem when it comes to handling things. On the other hand, it is an anomaly. “We need to figure out how to communicate this.” Like with a very good keyword – marketing is all the rage. This is also a familiar scene in hipster hotels, which – usually in the lobby – have been offering coworking tables for some time. Like in 25hours Hotel the Trip in Frankfurt or in Hotel Schani in Vienna. Anita Komarek, PR & Marketing Director at Hotel Schani says, “We had some initial difficulties reaching the target group, but thanks to the community building and a number of events, we can now count on loyal coworkers.” According to Komarek, locals first have to become aware of it. “Many don’t expect coworking space in a hotel.” The Viennese mainly use the Flex Desk day pass, which costs ten euros. Komarek adds, “In addition to 24/7 access, our coworkers enjoy the all-round service of the bar and can also order coffee and goulash soup late at night.”