What is Coworking? It might be Eurotrekking

The term “Coworking” is used for a variety of different activities, ranging from informal meetups and short term desk rental to a global movement , which is the future of work. Recently, coworking has branched into various forms of “coliving”, further blurring both work-life boundaries and the definition of the term “coworking”. The common theme is a desire to work and live in a community, a face-to-face group of people in the same physical space.

Coworking has always appealed to digital nomads, untethered and rootless digitally enabled workers who travel the world, working wherever they are. At the extreme, these nomads are their own community, banding together. “Destination coworking” blends into the global swarm of gap yearing trekkers, with sites in exotic locations, travel packages, and even cruises.

[N]ext time you’re going to work remotely, why not go somewhere actually remote?” [1]

Last month Ivan Brkljac wrote excitedly about “Europe’s wonderfully remote coliving-coworking locations” [1] . He reports that across Europe locations in “the rural countryside” have “managed to turn these communities into interesting destinations” with coworking and coliving spaces. These locations attract location independent urban workers who can come to work and “de-stress”.

His examples include villages in Serbia, Spain, Switzerland, Builgaria, and Germany. The Spanish and Swiss sites are located at conventional tourist destinations, the other villages feature healthy rustic amusements. The unifying theme seems to be rural authenticity.

[W]hen it comes to coworking and coliving, what people want is something genuine. They’re even willing to travel far and wide to find it

Glancing at the information, these locations seem more like sedate club med, without the club, and with Internet. Bear in mind that every hotel and inn has internet and desk space suitable for remote working. The trick is to attract people who want to meet and mix with other workers.

The promotional materials show happy young, single (white) workers. No old people or children in sight. In addition to surfing, skiing, and fine food, the potential attractions may include seminars on, say, Bulgaria Tax Citizenship. (Tax avoidance seems to be one of Europe’s largest industries, and a main attraction for digital nomadism.)

These locations are all pretty new, so who knows how they will evolve. Brkljac implies that these spaces represent some sort of reverse migration out of the cities, a repopulation of rural areas, and so on.

My own view is this is a sort of niche marketing in the huge and competitive European lodging business. There are thousands of ski lodges in Switzerland, most of which have Internet, and most of which will be happy to host a corporate meeting or individual remote workers. There are inns all over Europe too.

These spaces distinguish themselves in this crowded market with a new agey story about working and de-stressing, décor and amenities attractive to young professionals, and a trendy new name, “coworking”. More power to them, but this ain’t a big social revolution.

  1. Ivan Brkljac,  A tour of Europe’s wonderfully remote coliving-coworking locations. The New Worker.April 26 2017, http://newworker.co/mag/coliving-coworking-locations-to-work-remotely-in-europe/
  2. Alpine Co-Working. Alpine Co-Working. 2017, http://www.alpinecoworking.com/.
  3. Coconat. Coconat – A Workation Retreat. 2017, http://coconat-space.com/.
  4. Coworking Bansko. Coworking Bansko – Home for Digital Nomads and Freelancers. 2017, coworkingbansko.com.
  5. Mokrin. Mokrin House of Ideas. 2017, http://www.mokrinhouse.com/.
  6. Sende. Sende is a rural coworking & coliving space in Spain. 2017, http://sende.co/.
  7. Sun and Co. Sun and Co – The home to location independent workers. 2017, https://sun-and-co.com/.


What is Coworking?

Please stay tuned for my new ebook, “What is Coworking”, coming in 2017.

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