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My coworking visa experience at Startplatz, Cologne

By June 6, 2016 No Comments

On the 19th of May 2016 I had my first coworking visa experience. What is that you ask? Well let me start from the beginning…

I am a web designer. Not just a web designer, I do much more: I code websites myself, I do some online marketing, consulting… and most importantly I am a speaker (I think that is what I enjoy most). I work as a freelancer, which is awesome, because I am very flexible and work with clients from all kinds of different places.

Working as a freelancer is great, but it also has its downside (like everything I guess). When I started my business, one of the hardest things was working from home. At first I thought it would be great… Coffee whenever I wanted, work whenever I wanted… But “whenever I wanted” was part of the problem.

I would concentrate more on my surroundings than on my work. By this I mean that I would concentrate on what had to be done at home such as ironing, cleaning, etc., instead of doing what had to be done. Being a mum made it a lot more complicated because I want our house to be nice for when our daughter comes home from nursery. Working at home was not working out for me.

So I decided to change my mentality and to do so I needed to get out of the house to work. I started working in a coworking space called Espacio Arroelo in our hometown, Pontevedra. Probably one of the best decisions I made. This helped me to separate my work from being a mum and partner. I spend 5 hours (08:00 – 13:00) at the office and I focus on work, and work only. My productivity increased by about 200%. And when I’m at home, I’m a mum, a partner and I do the chores.

Espacio-Arroelo-Ana-Cidre

Arroelo is a very cosy place to work in

During my daughter’s siesta I take care of the housework and when she wakes up she has my full attention. I consider myself very lucky because I get to spend lunch, dinner and about 3 hours in the afternoon with my daughter before we put her to bed. Also my partner gets to spend a lot of time with her (also lunch, dinner and bathtime!). I know 3 hours a day might not sound much but she has my full attention, it is pure quality time, no messing about (unless there’s some clothes to be washed but she loves to help, so we do it together)!

My partner travels about once a month because he works remotely for a German online marketing agency and has to go for meetings and whatever else needs to be done. He is also half German and his parents live in Germany, so we decided that in May we could all go to see the family.

After checking flights we decided to go for 5 days, including weekend. That would mean I lose 3 days of work which was ok as I had not taken any holidays yet this year. A few weeks before the journey my partners mum offered to take care of our daughter (her granddaughter) for a day. This was when I decided to take a closer look at a programme our coworking space offers, the coworking visa.

I checked out coworking spaces in Cologne (because that’s where we were going to stay) that offered coworking visa. When your coworking space is part of this programme and offers this “visa”, it means that when you travel you can normally work at another coworking space for a few days. Sometimes it’s free (well, included in the price you already pay at home) or the coworking space you visit may charge a small fee.

While doing my search I came across Startplatz but did not proceed to sending them an email or anything as nothing was arranged with the grandmother.

One week before our departure I was told that on Thursday the 19th May my partners mum could take care of our daughter. Immediately I got in contact with Startplatz, just to give it a shot and see if they would have room for me (honestly, I thought that it was too late to even try). About 5 minutes later I got a positive response (German efficiency never fails to surprise me)! They said I could go no problem, just to give in my name at the reception and they would assign me a place.

Main-building-coworking-startplatz

So, on the 19th of May I found my way to Startplatz in Cologne without any problems (it’s pretty visible) and as soon as I arrived to the square where Startplatz is I saw that there are a few advantages of working in that area. Firstly there are lots of restaurants andtwo gyms and lastly water bumper cars… we all need those

Did someone say water bumper cars?

I rang the bell, got into this big office building, which is completely different from where I usually work (a small working space of about 40 people in an old building in the town center, beautiful really).

When I got to the reception they quickly found me a free spot where I could work. They told me that I could have as much coffee and soft drinks as I liked, for free! It amazed me how anyone who worked there could just have as much coffee, water and soft drinks as they liked, brilliant model!

They led me to one of the many rooms they have there. I got a place in room with about 30 other people. In Arroelo, there are only 4 of us in a room, so the change was enormous. What amazed me most is the fact the about half of the people in the room were speaking on the phone and it was not a problem at all! Now imagine 15 Spanish people talking on the phone in one room. It just doesn’t work. At Arroelo, you normally have to leave your room to talk on the phone, because everybody just talks too loud.

They sat me next to Anastasia, who works for startplatz, and she was very kind and helpful. She answered all of my questions and helped me get onto the WiFi (very important for a web designer). If you ever go to Startplatz and have a problem, just look for Anastasia!

Anastasia-Coworking-Startplatz

Anastasia and my place next to her 🙂

At my lunch break, I was able to leave my stuff on my desk. In Arroelo, this is also completely normal, as each coworker always has a fixed desk and that is where they work every day. In Startplatz, you can opt for a Flexidesk contract, which means that you can change your desk every day.

In the afternoon, I continued working for a few hours more, even though at home I don’t normally work in the afternoon, but I had a lot of work to do. I was very productive there, even though there were so many people and I thought that I would be easily distracted.

At the end of the day I thanked Anastasia for everything, said goodbye to the people at reception and bumped into this sir:

Sir-Dog-Startplatz

Yes this coworking allows dogs, it’s a dog friendly place! I think this a step forward for a business. As I am a dog lover I think that it’s lovely that the dog can spend the day with his/her owner instead of staying at home alone.

All in all this was a great experience and I will definitely do it again. If I have to travel for a conference or even to visit family or friends, I will make sure to check out if there are coworking spaces with coworking visa in the area.

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