July 2016

“We create an online magazine together within the community”- Maria Ebbinghaus, BlogFabrik

You may have already heard about Blogfabrik, the Berlin-based coworking space that gives you a desk in exchange for your writing skills. The innovative concept behind this German coworking space has already garnered significant media attention, in addition to inspiring new ways of imagining coworking spaces, as not just based on traditional fees, but as service based platforms fueled by creative exchanges.

Recently celebrating it’s one year anniversary, we caught up with Blogfabrik’s lead project manager, Maria Ebbinghaus, to find out what it takes to build a community of trust and collaboration.

Hi, Maria. Can you please give us some details on how Blogfabrik operates as a space and also how it meets the needs of members?

Blogfabrik is a coworking space for content creators who are working and living in Berlin. The focus of our space is within digital publishing. The people who work at Blogfabrik pay for their desk in the form of various content, such as texts, photos, videos, etc. This content is then published in our online magazine DailyBreadMag, which is a result of our collective effort.

Overall, our goal is to create a strong network of media influencers by creating a new networking hub and think tank for media creation and distribution.

How do you manage to be self-sufficient without charging traditional memberships?

Fortunately, we are part of the powerful Melo Group, a Munich- based group specializing in media distribution, which both invested and supported us. They strongly believe in the future of digital publishing, so we are encouraged to experiment and try out different things. As a result, our creative agency has a very strong collaborative aspect. For different types of projects, we are able to combine various skill-sets and talents ultimately offering very creative solutions when it comes to content marketing.

What do you think that coworking could do for industries that focus heavily on social media and digital media?

Our coworking space gives passionate freelancers from the media a new home. We work with bloggers, Instagrammers and journalists who have a high media reach and strong communities in their following. To work side by side with a community of talented and innovative individuals has many advantages. For example, we can develop advertising campaigns, brainstorm on brand cooperations and a multitude of social media projects.

How could coworking help the media industry grow, become more interactive and overcome challenges?

Our space is ideal when it comes to deep networking. People exchange knowledge about their businesses all the time. Before, the blogging community was mostly meeting on roof-top brand parties. Today, they can meet each other in a professional working environment at Blogfabrik, where we really work to empower them and their business.

Maria Ebbinghaus, lead project manager at Blogfabrik

Maria Ebbinghaus, lead project manager at Blogfabrik

We also found that everybody faces similar challenges, so we focus on collaboration, rather than competition. I think that professional potential can be found within coworking and partnering in general.

What are the biggest challenges facing those working in media today? 

Of course, low pay is still an issue and having enough projects available in order to make a living is also a constant struggle. Apart from daily hassles, we think there is a big challenge in the actual distribution of content and for those in media to be seen and recognized amongst the vast landscape of other media producers. Today, nearly everyone is fighting for the same thing, as the majority of people working in the online media industry depends on Google and Facebook when it comes to distribution of their content to their audience.

How does Blogfabrik work to overcome these challenges?

We try to empower content creators here at Blogfabrik and we truly believe in our coworkers. Through our agency, we offer them as many jobs as possible and by giving them a professional work environment they can learn to present themselves as qualified and skilled freelancers in order to attract more clients. Through close contact and many discussions amongst our community, we consistently aim to educate ourselves about the future of content and distribution, which is helping all of us to succeed.

What is the function of Blogfabrik’s in-house magazine? 

For us, DailyBreadMag is the portfolio of the Blogfabrik community. One can find interesting information about the media industry and useful tips there.

Based on your experience, what could in-house publications do for other communities?

DailyBreadMag is not only a portfolio, it’s also our common working ground. We try to bring people together through projects, thus we make an effort to combine different members for articles or content projects, where they often work together for the first time. It’s the ultimate networking tool for the concept of Blogfabrik, and it also functions as our testing ground where we can experiment with different models of collaboration.

Overall, our magazine has a lot of very important functions for us and it is also an interesting case for our clients, which shows our expertise in content creation.

The coworking space model is evolving, from corporate spaces to coliving spaces, what direction do you see coworking going in from the perspective of a place like Blogfabrik?

The future of coworking is bright. We strongly believe in the creative power of freelancers and we know how important it is to love your working environment and your colleagues. To create a community like this is challenging but also very rewarding. People spend their vacation days at Blogfabrik which is a sign for us that they love to spend their free time with us and their coworkers. Perfect!

How could other niche spaces create a model like yours to encourage knowledge sharing?

I think that question is not so easy because we are a very special coworking space. I think the easiest way would be to create a common project that everyone benefits from with knowledge, networking, and of course, love!

Did you already registered for Coworking Europe 2016 (Brussels, Nov 28-29-30) ? 


“People come to colive for various reasons, but they stay for the community”-Stephanie Cornell, Old Oak Collective

In 2010, Reza Merchant was in his last year of university, having a hard time finding an affordable place to live that wasn’t in shambles. Over the years, Merchant and his team started to see more and more issues within the housing market and a lack of supply for a growing demand.

We caught up with Stephanie from the Old Oak Collective, the latest member to join London’s coliving movement, to learn more about what direction coliving is moving and what this concept will bring to professionals living in urban areas.

Hi Stephanie, Can you please tell us about the Old Oak development process and what we can expect from this coliving concept?

We started to purchase derelict buildings and refurbishing them, which is when The Collective brand was created. We identified a gap in the market for high-quality housing for young professionals, who crave a hassle-free way of living, hence our all-inclusive service offering. For example, a single monthly bill covers rent, council tax, all utility bills, room clean, linen change, 24/7 security, and wi-fi. This convenience element is designed to give time-poor professionals more free time to pursue their passions/hobbies or simply to enjoy some more free time.

During this time we gathered feedback from members and conducted surveys which reinforced what we believed; namely that increasingly our generation are more willing to invest in experiences over material possessions, and to share these experiences with a close community of like-minded individuals.

How did the design play a role in the process?

Refurbishing existing buildings had prevented us from providing the communal space needed to facilitate these shared experiences and interactions, which became a priority when looking for space to build our first purpose built co-living building.

When we bought the site in Old Oak we were excited by the opportunity to deliver a wealth of communal space and amenities, as it is 12,000 sq ft in total!

Can coliving provide a real solution to rising real estate prices in London?

It’s an answer to both the increasing rental prices, which are alienating the workers who are the lifeblood of London’s economy. Coliving is also a solution that could cater to the changing lifestyle trends of our generation, who’s ambitions and expectations are very different to that of previous generations, and to whom the current rental market simply doesn’t cater to.

 How does the Collective Old Oak specifically help to meet contemporary needs?

At The Collective Old Oak we are offering all-inclusive bill and access to various amenities, including a gym, spa, and rooftop terrace. And of course, you are also gaining access to a ready- made community of people in similar stages of their life journey to you, and that’s something you can’t put a price on.You are not just renting a bed or a room; you’re buying into a lifestyle.

What has been the initial response to coliving in your experience?

It’s been so exciting to see them bring the space to life and take ownership of creating the sense of community, alongside our Community Managers.

Community library at Old Oak

Community library at Old Oak

Where there has been the occasional negative comment, it’s inevitably come from people who haven’t visited Old Oak and who don’t understand the concept of co-living.

From your experience, what are people looking for when they decide to colive? 

From what we’ve seen over the past couple of months is that people move in for various different reasons, whether it’s a bad experience renting in a shared apartment, or for the ease of the viewing and booking process for someone coming from abroad. Yet, once people have moved in, the reason they fall in love and ultimately stay, is because of the community.

Do you also offer workspaces such as a coworking area, etc.?

Yes. On the ground floor we have a large hot-desking area, designed to feel like a lounge area, where people can take their laptops, sit in one of the armchairs and work remotely. During the day it will also serve as a coffee shop type environment, transforming into a bar in the evening for more informal meetings or social gatherings.

There is also a separate coworking space on the first floor, which is targeted at local creative and ambitious businesses and entrepreneurs. Again, the same emphasis is placed on community, convenience, and quality, making the space an attractive place to work from a cost perspective, as well as lifestyle.

Have you found that people who chose to stay at Old Oak achieve a sense of work-life balance?

It’s about giving people the choice to work from home if they want to, as the younger generation are moving away from the tradition 9-5 jobs and are able to work from anywhere with a fast internet connection. While a lot of our members will want to go into their offices to get a degree of physical separation between their personal and professional lives, many will enjoy the flexibility of being able to work from home. It is also important to create a variety of inspiring spaces that make room for creativity and productivity, so that when they do choose to work from home, they have enough options so that it doesn’t feel like they are just working from bed.

As we are exploring models of work in the new economy, we would like to hear the opinion/experiences of people who are actively engaging in these models. Would you say that coliving is an obvious transition from more traditional coworking?

I think there are definitely many parallels that can be drawn between the two – as I mentioned earlier the same emphasis on community, convenience and quality is placed on both, to cater to co-livers and coworkers demands. Both have the same start-up, social mentality at their core.

In terms of coliving and coworking do you think the marriage of these two concepts could risk blurring the lines between work/life balance? 

I think that more and more, our generation are pursuing their passions, following their dreams. So actually working long hours and always being “on” isn’t necessarily a chore, but a source of enjoyment and personal satisfaction. Of course, it can be a risk though and it’s incredibly important to strike a healthy balance, which is why our programme of events encourages people to get away from their desks and join a yoga lesson, inspiring talk, film night, book club or the regular free rooftop BBQ and drinks.

How could a coliving space help enable people to really embrace the sharing/new economy, through events, workshops, etc.

We actually have a very active Facebook page for our Old Oak community, which members use for everything from reporting a maintenance issue to sharing events with each other. A common theme that we’ve seen emerging is people using it to share the cost of, for example, buying their groceries. We have one member, Tracy, who regularly cooks amazing meals in large batches, which she then offers to others as dinner portions, at a very low price. It’s a win win for everyone!

“Coworking holds the key to success for Hungarian businesses on the international scene”-Kata Klemenz, Loffice Budapest

Hungary’s first coworking space opened its doors in 2009, setting a new standard of work in the country, and since then, they’ve never looked back. Loffice, like most coworking spaces, wanted to create a space where people could come to work, connect and relax with access to knowledge and space sharing.

The first location opened in Budapest in a former printing house and since then they established five locations, 4 in Budapest and 1 in Vienna. And their work hasn’t gone unnoticed. Honored with various awards, such as the Young Entrepreneurs of the Year 2010, Green Office of the Year 2011, Coworking Office of the Year 2014, etc. Loffice has had a positive impact, not just in Hungary, but on the European coworking scene.

We spoke with Loffice’s cofounder, Kata Klementz, to learn more about Hungary’s scene and how they are actively bringing Europeans together through their various cross-border collaborations.

Hi, Kata. Can you please tell us a bit more about Loffice’s Mission?

We provide companies’ growing needs in-house resources, to make sure that they develop and expand by securing their constructed community. We also make sure to help individual entrepreneurs make connections to micro and mid-size ventures, as well as enforce their national and international presence.

We also host various events; the majority of these are primarily located in open space factory buildings, characterized by industrial design, recycled furniture, and environmental awareness as a way to integrate contemporary art into the work environment. We also offer a lot of other activities and thematic events, where community members can speak about their success and failures, as well as present best practices for young entrepreneurs, women, families, startups, mothers, migrants etc.

Can you tell us about some of the cross-border projects to come out of your space?

Our aim is to help entrepreneurs and startups with regular business consultancy and in-house training. With our “cross-border” programs and events, we provide professional support to companies who want to enter a new market. As part of our export advice activity, we provide professional support in the context of cross-border business.

We are also in partnership with an accelerator called OXO Labs and together we have a regional startup competition called CEE Lift Off. Our aim is to expand the domestic borders of the startup ecosystem and become a dominant market member in the CEE region.

Kata Klementz

Kata Klementz

In addition to those projects, we are also active members of the European Coworking Network project, which was started in August 2015.This project connects different coworking providers (from public, private and civil sector) in order to create diversified network and cooperation that aims to enhance and boost the self-employment possibilities of young people. It’s an effective tool for supporting entrepreneurship, with a strong focus on supporting young people who are interested in starting their own business. Our main goal with this project is to promote and inform young people about all the aspects of social entrepreneurship, as entrepreneurship is an important driver of economic growth and job creation.

All of these projects aim to show that coworking is the best platform to perfect start-up business ideas, by letting them grow in an inspirational environment, with a goal of sustainable growth.

What was your experience in the early stages of establishing a coworking space and when it came to introducing people to the concept?

At the time there wasn’t even a Hungarian expression for “coworking”. Our mission was to spread the word, explain the importance of this new way of working and make it available to help people better understand why it’s beneficial.

We have been involved in the launching of the European Coworking Assembly with coworking entrepreneurs and professionals who were looking to improve Europe’s economy and society via coworking. Another aim was to help and promote collaborative working to allow it to reach its full potential.

Hungary was hit hard during the financial crisis in 2008. What were the needs of people in Hungary at that time in regards to employment and jobs?

Declining exports reduced domestic consumption and fixed asset accumulation did hit Hungary hard. But we experienced a quick recovery and when the country’s GDP started to grow again, Hungarian businesses found their way out of the crisis.

In fact, Hungary and Budapest are considered to be the perfect home for self-employers and entrepreneurs. While multinational businesses do take up a significant amount of labor power, the current conditions are good for mid- and micro-sized ventures, in regards to investment, workforce and markets, national and international as well. From the coworking perspective, our aim was to motivate people and show them useful examples and best practices. We wanted to make entrepreneurship sexy for them!

Coworking spaces are the best channels to connect people and all types of professionals, these hubs for entrepreneurs, freelancers, and budding organizations are building the future economy by providing jobs and innovation. And this is exactly what people need to be able to move on from the crisis.

Today would you say that there are more freelancers in Hungary than before, and is it a term that’s generally accepted?

Yes, “freelancer” is a generally accepted term and also appreciated. These people are mostly working independently and have different reasons for freelancing, like freedom, flexibility, family, passion, or even because they can’t find a full-time employment. At Loffice there are definitely more freelancers than before.

Budapest considered one of Europe’s Startup capitals, can you give us some examples of how is it different from the other major cities like London and Berlin?

Budapest has changed a lot in the past years; for example, today innovation receives special attention and support. We can see that from the numerous accelerators that have launched and achieved great success. Hungary can show off several global successes in the startup scene, such as Ustream, Prezi, etc., which is something we are very proud of considering our population and economic conditions.

In addition to the new economy receiving support, Hungary has a lot of professionals with excellent qualifications and unique mindsets. Unfortunately, they still often leave the country. Hopefully, this will change, as Budapest is on the now at the top of the list of the world’s trendiest cities and you can really feel how incredibly vibrant the city has become. Today, we have multiple festivals and events, from musical, cultural, business, etc. There is a real sense of a newly developed freedom.

Do you feel that coworking communities in cities like Budapest are overlooked because of the attention given to bigger “tech capitals”?

I wouldn’t say that coworking communities are overlooked here. Moreover, they are the foundation that allowed Budapest to become such a tech and startup capital! We recommend everybody to experience coworking. It can really change the way people think about their job, entrepreneurship, sharing, and success. We want to encourage everybody to try coworking and open their world to new experiences, new approaches, knowledge, inspiration, and community.

What have been some of the major social, economic changes that have come about from the rise of coworking in Budapest?

The coworking concept has a major role in evolving sharing economy in Hungary. It encompasses many aspects of sharing in the world of working, such as space, ideas, experiences, costs, projects etc.

Coworking and sharing changes the way people think about working and their jobs, for both employers and employees. Today, Hungary is a good place to work and live, as the ecosystem is stabilizing and the new principles of employment are securing the rights and conditions for employees.

You also have a space in Vienna. Does having a space in another country help develop your vision as a coworking operator?

I lived and studied in Vienna for a time and got to know the city’s cultural and business scene. So when it came to expansion, Vienna was the obvious choice. One of our investors is also from Austria.

I really love Vienna because the business and public safety highly functional. It’s like a Swiss watch: Branded, durable, stylish, and prestigious. Being in Vienna always shows me new directions as well, and whenever I return home I am filled with fresh ideas. I have also noticed that is has helped with creating a positive change in willingness to cooperate with local organizations and businesses.

What do you see for the future of business in Hungary because of coworking’s influence?

Coworking is a very innovative concept. We believe that it holds the key to success for Hungarian businesses on the international scene. It’s all about sharing, cooperation, and community, and we believe that these are values that move forward not only our economy but our society as well.

A creative, intellectual atmosphere comes to life where workers can share their experiences, information, and knowledge with one another.