Betahaus, Berlin, July 2013

I ended up working out of Betahaus twice.  Why?  IT’S FREAKING AWESOME.  I’ve never seen a coworking space like this before.  There are tons of different types of meeting rooms, open working spaces, wood working studios, there’s a 3-D printing room, conference space, startup offices, a cafe, outdoor benches for drinking beer, car parking, bike parking, and who knows what else.  It’s the biggest coworking space I’ve seen and obvious core home of the Berlin tech scene.  (I understand the high rollers are found in the private area of St Oberholtz)

The culture in this space is extremely mixed.  You’ll hear people speaking all of the European languages and there are many Americans, Canadians, Brits and Australians walking around as well.  Many are regulars, but many others were coworking tourists like I was.

The first time I went, I sat up in the individual coworking area and listened to a female-owned company talk about various fixes they needed to make in their pitch for the pitch competition that was happening the weekend after.   

After a while, though, I got hungry so I wandered down to the cafe and sat there.  This seems to be the liveliest area and the best place to meet new people.  My lunch was an expertly prepared pasta and my first desk mate was a friendly Italian who was happy to share his corner with me (at least he seemed happy about it).  Since I got such a good vibe off of this area, I sat here again the second time I came to the space when I was coworking with fellow-New Yorker, Jake (you can see him peaking behind his laptop and my Club Mate above).

I understand that this is where General Assembly Berlin is operating out of, so you can take many classes there.  They are constantly organizing their own events for the Berlin Tech and Maker Community as well.

The drawback, though, is that you can only get a full tour of the space twice a week.  (they seem to really work their front desk staff, so they just don’t have capacity to give more tours of this MASSIVE space).  They do, however, give you paperwork explaining the space.

My suggestion: get there at around 10am, pick a space in the cafe, eat some breakfast, get some work done, chat with some folks at the next table, get some lunch, work some more, take a tour if it’s Tuesday, then grab a beer with your new friends at the front benches.

If I lived in Kreuzberg, I’d very likely be a member of this place.

marthadenton Posted by marthadenton

Berlin coworking, through Martha’s NYC-er eyes

I spent July 2013 in Berlin, checking out the city and wondering what it’d be like to live there full time.  So, in addition to checking out the line policies at Berghain (they seem totally random), I also checked out some coworking spaces.  Like NYC, Berlin has a very clear coworking culture and it’s certainly a bit different.  In some ways, more civilized than the workaholic mindset that so many New Yorkers have.

Here’s a list of Berlin features:

Hours are more sane.  The work-life balance in Berlin is quite even, especially in summer when the sun is only down for 4-5 hours a night. It’s more common for people to role between 9-10am and to really stop working for the day between 5 and 6.  Some people leave then, and others stay and get a beer from the cafe.  This is of course a bit different for those in private offices for startups.  But from what I could tell, everyone was following German laws around how many hours could be worked a week (in an office at least, but again this is a casual observation so who knows?)

Cafes are common.  All of the coworking spaces I saw had cafes for buying coffee, Club Mate (the standard coffee alternative that is oddly addicting), lunch options (typically just one or two a day, changing each day), and beer for after hours.  Some spaces like Betahaus and St. Oberholtz have cafe only spaces that you can go to instead of paying a day rate in the main space.

Service is German.  Which means that there are specific processes to follow and that you’ve got to be a bit more patient with whoever is providing said service.  People may speak with you a bit more direct than they would in the States.  And they’ve be VERY thorough about it. But this is true of well, anything in Germany.

Eye for detail.  Every space I went to was very well designed.  But why wouldn’t it be?  Everything else in Berlin has a clear design sense as well.  This is different than some of the US spaces, which are more varied when it comes to design.

Community is important.  Some spaces even encourage members to join a weekly group dinner to meet other members.

Spaces have a variety of workspaces available.  Some may just have different types of seating areas if you’re just eating, having a meeting, or need silence.  Others have a wide variety of conference spaces, conversation spaces or workshops with 3D printing or woodworking materials.

Spaces are all over.  In NYC, the better coworking tends to be in Manhattan or one of the Brooklyn neighborhoods with more offices (not that there aren’t some really cute and nice neighboorhood coworking spaces, but they’re not really focused on bringing in the dough).  That’s not the case in Berlin.  There are major coworking spaces in all of the big neighborhoods, and each one reflects the neighborhood that they are in (edgier in the East, more traditional in the West, posher in more expensive neighborhoods, edgiest in the edgiest neighborhoods).  So, if there’s a specific industry you want to work with or neighborhood you want to spend all your time in, your coworking space can really help support those goals.

In conclusion, I found the coworking culture in Berlin vibrant yet homey.  And I really really wise I could bring their cafes back to NYC.  Adding a layer of food culture would really make our spaces homier.

marthadenton Posted by marthadenton

Mobile Suites, Prenzlauer Berg

This is from a visit I made to this very lovely neighborhood coworking space in July 2013.  I decided to visit this space for 2 reasons:  1) it came up in multiple Berlin Coworking Top Ten lists and 2) it is close to my friend Jaina’s apartment and she also needed to get some work done.

From the first email, I got a really good vibe about this space.  They’re VERY responsive by email, which isn’t a given in Berlin.  When we got there, we had to wait a minute or two for the receptionist to get back because she was helping someone quite intensely (also a good sign).  She was quite helpful when she was back, though, showing us free copies of The Economist to pick up, giving us little pieces of paper with the internet password, an explanation of where everything is, and how to pay for our day (at a big discount because it was our first time there).

We looked around and settled into one of the working booths.  Our other options could have been:  Standing desks looking out onto the street, cafe tables, traditional desks in a quieter area, standard desks in the back room, couches, or at a large wooden communal table.   We found that dynamic-wise that the booths seemed to be ideal for those who wanted to work together, the communal table for those who wanted to make new friends, the cafe tables for meetings, or the desks for those needing to get a lot done in a quiet space.  Oddly enough, no one used the standing desks.

Members have access to a cafe where they can get food, coffee, or Club Mate for a fee.  They can reserve one of two lovely bright conference rooms, that can also be joined together if needed. There are also 2 phone booths for those wanting more privacy as they speak on the phone.  And on nicer days, there’s a back area to sit outside and enjoy the sun.  Being Berlin, there was plenty of bike parking in front and very easy UBahn, bus and trolly access.

It took a little while to get a coffee since the person running the cafe also sets up the conference rooms.  But that seems to be the norm in Berlin.  

What struck me about this space was how bright it was.  LOTS of natural light.  LOTS of regulars who seemed to know each other and were likely more friendly than some of the other spaces I went to.  On the day we went, we weren’t the only native English speakers, but there were more Germans than in other places.

Furniture was really good quality, as was the design (which one can pretty much expect in Berlin).  I am a HUGE fan of the various areas, which can be helpful for a busy freelancer/startup employee having various needs.

From what I saw, they hold various events here for meeting others and are eager for member input (which you can give in an antique German post box).  

Energy-wise, people were chatting with each other, but no so loudly that it was distracting.  Unlike New York coworking spaces, most people took their calls at their laptops, which is something I definitely prefer to do!

If I lived in Berlin, I’d seriously consider joining this space.

marthadenton Posted by marthadenton

have you heard of the Con Artist Collective?? If so or not, you should stop by. We would love to have a review on your blog. We are located at 119 ludlow.

conartistnyc

Maybe in the new year!

marthadenton Posted by marthadenton

Regus offers co-working drop in plans at various locations starting at $29 a month

From Charlie O’Donnell’s NYC Innovation Community newsletter today, 09-16-13 -

Ever hear of Regus?  They had co-working in NYC before the term was even invented—yet, no one really thinks of them in the same conversation as GA, WeWork, etc.  Well, perhaps that should change with their new Business Gold plan.  Get this.  It’s $29 a month to drop in to any one of their workspaces and work.  Yeah, that’s right—for less than the cost of a mifi, you can drop into any one of their dozens of locations around the city and work for an unlimited amount of time.  Maybe you’ve been hesitating to get an office because you only need it occasionally.  They’ve got conference rooms, too, and the Gold membership gives you preferred rates on rooms.  You’ll hardly use those rooms anyway, so you might as well pay for them on an hourly basis when you need them.  Have you seen their space on 46th/3rd?  It’s gorgeous—maybe the nicest, cleanest, brightest workspace I’ve seen.  Anyway, their website could use some help, but the offer is seriously worth it.  If you want to sign up for this deal (while it lasts) go here.  Select “US” and the price will switch to $29. 

laureadeocampo Posted by laureadeocampo

Laurea’s take on coworking at The Yard LES on Monday, June 17

Note: The Yard LES launch party is tonight, Thursday, June 20 from 6-8 pm.  RSVP@WORKATTHEYARD.COM.

The Lower East Side’s new space to work celebrates the history and future of one of New York’s most vibrant neighborhoods. Enjoy food, drinks, music, and art representing the best of yesterday and today.

Featuring the photography of Brian Rose from his book Time and Space on the Lower East Side.

Music by Mr. Gibbons
Photobooth by The Majestic Photobooth Company
Beer by Brooklyn Brewery
Wine by September Wines
Ice Cream Sandwiches by Melt Bakery

Details here.

On to my review…

When I first contacted the Yard about trying their space for a day a few months back, they said they only did tours of their Willamsburg location - no trials, so I was happy to find that their brand new location the Yard LES  on 85 Delancey (right next to the Moscot store) offers a drop in rate of $25 to cowork in their lounge space for the day.

The Yard LES wasn’t taking credit cards as of Monday, June 17 for drop in day passes (cash only) but Beth the manager was very friendly and welcoming so her friendliness made up for the inconvenience. 

There are two floors total that look pretty much identical with small private offices of various sizes. Most of the private offices actually have windows and natural light so if you are looking for a small private office space in the Lower East Side for 1-7 people, the Yard LES is a great option. The photo below shows the hallway and the private offices behind glass on both sides of the hallway. The columns are still being worked on but will get painted over once construction is complete.

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The prints on the wall were a nice touch and kept the communal area from feeling too sterile.

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Each of the two floors has a common lounge area.

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Martha and I coworked in the lounge on the third floor. We had the place to ourselves for the entire day since not too many people had probably heard The Yard LES was open yet. I am anticipating the coworking lounge will get full soon because of its fantastic location.

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They are also planning on opening a rooftop which I am really excited to check out once it is open, there are some great views of the city from Delancey Street.

If it’s a nice day, you feel like riding a bike and you have a Citi bike rack near you, you can ride it to the dock around the corner from the Yard LES on the West side of Norfolk Street near Broome Street.

What I liked:

The location on Delancey near the Essex street station is nice because it never gets too crowded, even during rush hour, so the commute is not as stressful as going to Midtown Manhattan. The building is an old former bank building so the lobby and interior of the building has character. The internet worked well throughout the day (but since we were the only people it will be interesting to see how the bandwidth holds up once more members join). 

Plenty of places to grab lunch - Katz’s, Clinton Street Bakery, Pok Pok Phat Thai, Tiny’s…just to name a few! This neighborhood is great for foodies. You even have Il Laboratorio del Gelato for dessert.

What could be better:

I am hoping in addition to painting the walls that the library/coworking lounge will get some art on the walls and plants to help prevent it from looking too sparse. The lighting is a bit harsh and touch and go right now in the coworking lounge so hopefully some light fixtures will be installed and the motion sensor will get worked out.

I didn’t see any phone booths so I am not sure what their plans are for when the coworking libraries get full and people need to make phone calls.

The doors to the lobby in the entrance were finicky and were locked on and off. There was a table in the lobby so hopefully they will get a door attendant to let people in since there is no intercom to get buzzed into the building.

Lunch: Martha and I went to Tiny’s for lunch which has a good selection of sandwiches (even for vegetarians!) with really fresh ingredients and salads. It’s a nice sunny spot with big windows and tasty home made sodas.

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Happy hour: We went to Berkli Parc on 63 Delancey. It seems to be more of a coffee shop but they have a nice beer and wine selection and a happy hour from selected beers and wines ($5 for a beer or glass of wine) everyday from 4 pm to 8pm. If you need some serious liquor The Delancey deck is a nice place to have a drink.

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Cost:

$25 for a coworking day pass

Rates and options here.

laureadeocampo Posted by laureadeocampo

Laurea’s take on coworking at Rev on Friday, June 15, 2012

I found out about Rev from the Loosecubes site when they announced their Summer Coworking Challenge which you should definitely check out!

The unique feature about Rev is that it is located under the Vitra store in Chelsea so it is furnished with Vitra furniture, giving this coworking space an advantage of having the nicest office furniture of any coworking space or most offices for that matter that I have seen so far.

Rev is located near the Highline, right next to Soho House and a few blocks from Chelsea Market - such a design lover’s neighborhood.

Even though Rev is in the lower level of the Vitra store, you don’t feel like you are working in a basement, which was my initial concern before seeing the space. The ceilings are pretty high for a lower level space and since the Vitra storefront is all glass, sunlight comes down into the Rev space.

What I liked:

The furniture was gorgeous, comfortable and functional. I had a big desk with a giant monitor (about 40 inches). The desk came with a laptop plug, iPhone charger, mouse and keyboard. Definitely the most complete desk I have tried working in so far. The chair was also extremely comfortable which most coworking spaces understandably so cannot afford to have so it was a luxury to work in the space for the day. Clearly the Vitra marketing with Rev worked on me because I had such a good experience with their furniture.

There was a communal desk that you could work from standing up. I was so into my desk for the day that I did not get a chance to try to work standing up even though it is supposed to be better for you.

There was a nice couch area if you wanted to have a meeting or just not work at a desk for a bit.

The fridge was stocked with IZZE soda and there were snacks available.

There restroom was super clean and fancy. Since the restroom is shared with the Vitra office, you got to walk by their gorgeous office on the way to the restroom.

Internet speed: Download speed: 15.60, Upload speed 5.02

What could be better:

If you are lucky enough to get a desk for the day then it definitely feels spacious but if the space is busy I can see the communal tables getting pretty crowded since the chairs are quite close together.

There isn’t space for a proper conference room so if you are someone who is looking for a space with a conference room then this won’t work for you.

If you make a ton of phone calls and want a phone booth then this open plan space is also not a good match.

The front door is locked until the Vitra store is open so you have to find someone on their staff of 3 to open the door to let people in who are meeting you if the store is closed; so you don’t have the freedom of having keys to the space unlike other coworking spaces.

Lunch: Martha, Jen and I went to http://www.friedmanslunch.com/ in Chelsea Market and then brought our food to the Highline.

This kind of lunch option is when you are reminded of why you work so hard to live in NYC - being able to enjoy a beautifully designed public space that people from all over the world travel to see with some delicious food during your lunch break.

Happy hour: Martha and I went to the bar at the http://www.hotelgansevoort.com/ for a drink. Ridiculously nice views (pictured below) but you have to go before 6 PM before the crowd gets unbearable. The drinks are pricey ($18 for one cocktail) but they are strong. There were tater tots on the menu which seemed like an awesome idea but there are only 3 of them for $9. So don’t order them!

Cost: Rev has two plans - occasional and unlimited.

The occasional plan reminds me of Zipcar because you can pay hourly and even by the minute!

The unlimited plan for $249 a month is a really good deal for a plan that is Monday - Saturday 9 am to 9 pm and located in Chelsea with some of the best office furniture you can get.

More details about costs and benefits here.

Since Rev is still new, it is not really clear who the community is yet but I’m definitely keeping an eye on it to see how the community develops since it is such a beautiful space. 

laureadeocampo Posted by laureadeocampo