The sound of the alarm radio clock pierced through the silence of your bedroom and you had a feeling that it pierced through your brain. You slowly move to the side of your bed and go about your morning routine. The splash of freshly brewed coffee drips into the cup and you go to your living room, still in your pajamas, open your laptop and refresh the inbox.
The minutes turn into hours and it’s almost midday. You are still in your pajamas, on your third coffee, on a call with a client. Audio only, of course. You stopped having video calls years ago because you just couldn’t bother tidying up or designing your surroundings to look more “officey” because like many freelancers – YOU WORK FROM HOME.
At some point during the day you’ll wonder where you might have left your adapter just to later find it next to the laundry basket in the bathroom. How? When? You wonder, but then the answer comes to you quickly: YOU WORK FROM HOME, work-related stuff and daily house tasks get mixed up.
Work-related stuff is overlapping with your personal life more often than you’d like to admit. No matter how many times you’ve read about the importance of separating your work and private life and finding a balance, when you work from home setting boundaries tends to get quite impossible. You are often inclined to do some house chores in the middle of the workday just because you think it’s convenient and instead of taking a proper break and engage in a conversation, stretch your legs out in the nearby park, you decide to do the laundry or fill the dishwasher.
Distractions are countless and the life/work borders become paler as the days go by. One of the most common challenges every freelancer that works from home faces sooner or later, no matter how disciplined he or she is, is the sinking feeling that the work is never really done. When you work from office, the moment you log out and pick up your coat to leave, you actually leave work. You might still think about it if you’ve had an eventful or hard day at work but the bottom line is – you’re done for that day and other things, people and events can now take over. When you work at the same place where you eat, sleep, have friends over, watch movies and snuggle with your partner, the temptation to do just one more little work-related thing on your laptop after dinner is a persisting one. It doesn’t really make any difference if you live in a 2-bedroom apartment or a 2-story open floor house with a separate room designed as your home office. It’s still the same address. And that can produce a familiar sense of anxiety, isolation, and lack of motivation. No interaction and meaningful conversation during working hours usually lead to loneliness and deficiency of will power.
Even if your business is thriving and by any parameters you might be considered successful, the toll that working from home can have on your business is probably not visible to you at first glance. But if you really think about all the situations where you had to go meet a client at a coffee shop or a restaurant or hope that they’ll ask you to come to their premises, it’s not that hard to see how your business is hurting in this area. After all, you probably had more than one situation that could be likened to a famous clip when the kids barge into the room while the expert analyst is discussing the global crises live on CNN.
All those inconveniences aside, having no access to the community, professionals from your field of business, or having only a small circle of close colleagues is maybe the biggest issue that working from home imposes on a freelancer. The opportunities to meet new people and potential clients, build business connections, exchange opinions, discuss current trends and topics are usually rare and if your business finds itself in deep waters, finding new clients and closing the contracts can be more than challenging.
If you run a team or a small business that relies on several people that don’t work at the same premises motivation and good spirits within the team do not come easily. A dispersed team runs into daily communication mishaps because the unity and mutual understanding can’t transpire through instant messaging or a collaboration software tool. Positive work atmosphere is sometimes generated out of a causal internal joke told by a colleague at the water cooler or at lunch when more mundane topics come to life and people are relaxed and in the mood to share ideas and thoughts. The heavy blow that your social life takes when you work for home is not hard to notice and even though some co-workers might not be your cup of tea, it’s nice to have an after-work beer with colleagues from the team and take your mind of off the daily hassle.
Embarking on a journey to find a smart, cost-effective and comfortable way of solving these issues is not easy, especially if you are a bit of a loner/introvert and cherish the freedom and seclusion that working from home provides. But factoring in the challenges that come with being a freelancer or managing a team of people from home, maybe that freedom comes with a greater price than you might have considered.
Moving your business to a coworking space is probably not a new idea for you and maybe it’s something you’ve been contemplating on multiple occasions but never really dared to follow through. So, it’s only fair that you lay out all the pros and cons so you can make an informed decision.
The first question that pops to your mind every time someone suggests you move to a coworking space is “How much will it cost me and is it a sustainable solution for my business?”
Many freelancers who work from home emphasize the cost - saving aspect of it, but it is important to break down the fees and compare the advantages. A common misconception is that coworking spaces are expensive and not worth the cost. It is understandable where this notion comes from. Small business owners, freelancers or especially start-ups in the early stages don’t like the idea of investing additional resources before their projects accelerate and gain momentum or the first clients and investors show up on the horizon. But the harsh reality is that working from home or managing a team remotely in order to save time and money often ends in costing time, money and mental health.
Nova Iskra coworking spaces in Belgrade have laid out several pricing plans that suit freelancers, start-ups and businesses from all walks of business life. It’s up to you to pick the plan that works best and fits your needs without worrying about the freedom, flexibility or uncertainty of your future endeavors. Some freelancers decide on drop-in or short-term plan, but for most small businesses and individuals a monthly plan turns out to be the best option.
The usual concern expressed by business owners when it comes to renting out a workspace is that they can’t be certain of the direction their new business will take, whether it will grow or maybe find itself in the situation where it’s necessary to reduce the team members etc. so they cannot commit to a long-term rent contract or invest in furnishing an office space.
This is why coworking is the most logical step ahead. Apart from saving you from procrastination and distractions, which are well-known companions of anyone who works from home, coworking spaces take the load of all the administrative work and service fees, maintenance, repairs, kitchen supplies and security. If broken down, and treated as a separate fee, each of these cost together more than a freelancer or a small to medium business is willing or able to pay. With no additional payments except for the space itself, coworking seems not only affordable but definitely a sustainable solution.
And it’s not only about money. It’s also about being care-free, not having to take care of the seemingly endless list of tasks that are not really about the work itself. Just try to count all the times that you had to run to a local copy shop because you needed to print something urgently, or your internet provider decided to do a “server maintenance” just on the night you planned to work until late to pull up a deadline. These types of things never occur at the coworking spaces. Also, regular cleaning and maintenance of your workspace are just two more things that you can cross off of your list of chores because it’s all included in your pricing plan when you opt for a coworking space like Nova Iskra. To put it simply – your problem becomes someone else’s problem because the community manager and the rest of the staff are approachable and helpful and will deal with any sort of issues regarding your business that you might have. Your laptop charger cord is suddenly broken? No problem, they’ll find you a charger that you can use within minutes. Your client suddenly wants an urgent meeting to discuss an ongoing issue? One of the smaller conference rooms might be available, and if not, there’s always a nice-looking corner with a sofa and a table or a beautiful terrace with comfortable seating under umbrellas like in Nova Iskra Savamala or Zemun location. You can up your game by including a whiteboard explanation in your pitch to a client, or make high-quality photographs of your project to send to a client using the photo equipment available to all the members of our coworking community.
Those are all potential costs hanging upon your business expenses account every day when you are a lone rider, working from home.
If commuting is a pricey item on the list of expenses, you can always find a coworking space in the walking distance from your home.
But in order to calculate the real return on investment you need to factor in the major bullet point – and it doesn’t have anything to do with the actual workspace but everything to do with the opportunities. Because OMG:
It is no surprise that in recent years even Google and Facebook got rid of enclosed spaces, private offices and decided on open workspaces. The idea behind this is simple. If you open the space for the people flow, you open the highway for the ideas to flow. Your return on investment is directly linked to the superpower that coworking spaces harbor: NETWORKING. Many seasoned fans of coworking spaces even claim that coworking is the new LinkedIn. Now, what does it actually mean?
We often hear how it’s important to keep the “herd immunity” on high level if we want to be able to protect even the most vulnerable ones among us by keeping the whole “herd” healthy and free of dangerous and deadly illnesses? Well, the same thing is true for the business environment. Being a part of the coworking community can make your business more resistant to problems and “illnesses” that startups, companies and teams encounter when trying to build up a sustainable and successful business.
And beginnings are always hard. As it goes with all the great and successful stories, you started off with an idea. Slowly you started putting pieces together, writing your business plan/software, transferring your idea from head to paper/code/platform. It picks up pace and soon you secure an investment, the plan pays off and you start making some money. You hire a team of skilled people. You move your business from your garage/basement/spare bedroom/your uncle’s vacation house to a real office space. You need an office assistant because the administration piles up. And also, you don’t have time anymore to worry about everything, from stacking up toilet paper, water and coffee (only you know the extent to which your team is addicted to coffee), to dealing with real business challenges. You try to keep up with the industry pace, endless learning, chasing recommendations to hire the best people, from designers to accountants and cleaners. It’s draining you soul but you are determined to succeed so you keep pushing. Day by day. The stress is taking over and soon you might find yourself so enclosed in your day to day struggle to tie the loose ends that you end up losing perspective and can’t see the big picture anymore. Congratulations, you just caught up the business equivalent of measles.
How do you go about preventing all this?
You probably had some help when you were starting it all off. Your friends and colleagues were offering a helping hand whenever they could, but can you imagine how much easier time you would have if you had a real support system to lift up just part of the load? A virtual vaccine to protect you from early business illnesses? That’s exactly what Nova Iskra community is doing. Over the time we have installed the sort of “support system” that we can offer to startups, companies and teams. To protect them from missing opportunities, enclosing in their micro worlds and losing focus. And to make sure that they benefit from our digital “herd immunity”.
So how does this “business herd immunity” works in Nova Iskra community?
Primarily through building strong business connections within our community so you know that you can always count on all of us to respond when you come knocking.
Once you figure out the best pricing plan for your business and sign up for a coworking space probably the first thing you’ll notice is how the interaction at these places comes naturally. Since there are no rigid boundaries, hierarchy and clans that are characteristic for corporate environment, the communication is open and transparent with no burden or hidden agendas linked to expected promotions, competitive atmosphere or seniority levels.
Sharing ideas in a safe and creative environment becomes the dominant vibe, beneficial for all members of the coworking community. If you are not a big people-person and enjoy the silence and privacy, let the coworking space staff make the introduction and see where it will take you. Collaboration and partnership opportunities arise from casual meet ups and small talks by the coffee machine and they should never be taken for granted in coworking spaces. In all three of Nova Iskra coworking spaces we witness every day the beneficial and lucrative connections and cooperations of our tenants. Digital marketers team up graphic designers for an ongoing project, programmers get a task on helping with software for bookkeepers, project manager for music industry jumps in on a marketing pitch that almost never came to be because of the deadline. We see it every day and those opportunities are almost non-existent or happen very slowly in any other work environment, let alone if you work from a home office.
Referrals are the standard modus operandi and they are always a two-way street. Let’s say that, for example, you have a client for whom you are working on a software for production optimisation. The job is solid and both you and your client are satisfied with the work. If that same client decides that he or she would like to expand the contract and also have the company’s website redesigned, you’d be at first inclined to say that this type of work is out of your scope of expertise. But if you’re a part of the coworking community, an experienced and willing web designer from the same coworking space can jump in on the project and the two of you, working as a team, can actually deliver a wholesome and valuable work, for the client. It’s a win-win situation in all perspectives: the client sees you as a well-connected, trustworthy professional that can solve the problem even if it exceeds the contracted services, the coworking colleague gets a new project and potentially another referral.
Even if you’re not looking for acquiring new clients (which we seriously doubt) and are happy with how the things are, being a part of something larger and enriching your portfolio is the reason enough to put down your noise-cancelling headphones from time to time and join the conversation.
Why is this so important? Firstly, you find yourself or your business finds itself in the epicentre of events. If there’s a buzz on the market, an innovation in development, rest assured that coworking spaces and their talent pool will pick it up and join the stream much faster than big- money corporations. Because the coworking ecosystem is wired for creativity and innovation. This is the reason why large corporation, such as Microsoft, Bank of America, Starbucks decided to allocate a portion of their work force to coworking spaces – they get easier access to the innovators, talent and in some cases even industry – changing ideas. So, your decision to move to a coworking space will get a whole new meaning once you’re set and become a part of community: it’s the decision that will help you generate leads and open your business to new opportunities rather than just be satisfied with affordable space rent and the success in breaking the past working routine. The question is not “Is it worth it?” but “How much is it worth?”.
The other important and beneficial aspect of including your business in a coworking ecosystem are the learning opportunities. And more often than not, you will be learning from the experts that are opened to sharing the industry secrets, tips and tricks with the new comers. In the collaborative and creative atmosphere, the productivity naturally grows, and projects are routinely discussed in a casual and friendly manner. In that way, exchanging experiences and getting advice form senior experts creates an added value to each day spent in a coworking space. In such accepting and safe environment, expressing hopes and concerns is met with understanding and willingness to help if the situation call for that. A closely-knit coworking community also represents a sort of a shield against the troubles already experienced by other members of the community in their respective fields or industries. For example, if someone from the same coworking space had a bad experience with an unprofessional client, chances are that you’ll be warned to be careful if the opportunity to work with that client arises, or if a company with bad prior record gets in touch with your business you can always ask around the community to find out if the story holds truth and what other member’s experiences with that company were. This type of safety armour for your business that being a part of the coworking community offers, is straight- out priceless, and can often save you time, money and whole lot of nerves.
By the time you celebrate your first milestone in a coworking space, you’ll find understand how the community taught you to welcome friendliness, meaningful business relationships and appreciate the company of like-minded people from all walks of life and professions.
When you search for the perfect coworking space with supporting community management that you feel you can trust with taking care of your business needs, it’s often best to start from the beginning and look at the cross-section of the coworking market in Belgrade.
Nova Iskra was a pioneer when it comes to developing the idea of coworking spaces not only in Belgrade but the whole Balkans. Making a positive friction between creative industries, technology and professionals and creating a spark that would grow to become one of the largest melting pots of ideas, innovation, organisations and businesses was not an easy task.
A journey that started without a trail path to follow produced a proactive alliance of businesses and individuals eager to form the new way of working and learning.
Crafting a rounded solution, a wholesome answer to all the needs any of our community members might have, has been a steady goal. Our concept relies on tailoring solutions to accustom to ever-changing needs of the freelancer and contemporary business market in general. That’s why joining the Nova Iskra coworking community is in a way like finding a jackpot formula for organising and growing your business. We’ve got you covered from all sides: working, networking, learning, growing and overcoming obstacles. We’ve been there from the beginning and we have learned all the nuances and difficulties that come with running a business.
In the time span of nine years Nova Iskra has created workspaces to correspond to the ongoing global transformation of working culture and it’s still the project “in the making”. Trying to always get better and push things further is a never-ending work. We expanded not only our physical spaces, by exploring and renovating attractive locations around Belgrade to suit our coworking vision, but also expanded our experience so that we could get onboard and catch the wave of new trends, technological development and learning potentials.
That’s why we are able to welcome each new member to our creative ecosystem and make them feel at home, protected and nurtured. How exactly do we do that? By aligning all the important things so you can win this coworking jackpot.
Our spaces harbour an award-winning design. When we designed and furnished the first Nova Iskra location in Savamala district, it was important not only to transpire coolness, relaxed atmosphere and positive vibes but to also have a truly functional, high-quality and durable pieces. We know that the average coworking member spends at least 6 - 8 hours a day working, so we provide comfortable work chairs and spacious workstations. All our locations are designed to make your day more enjoyable, cheerful and productive.
High-speed fibre-optic WiFi, printers and scanners ensure that your business runs smoothly and without delays, and in Dorcol location you can have 24/7 access to workspace because we are well aware how some of our hardest-working members like to pull the all-nighters when a highly anticipated pitch is coming or maybe they just remembered in the middle of the night that they had left the USB flash with presentation at their desk, 3 hours before flying out on a business trip. Life is unpredictable and those things happen so we want you to have that convenience and freedom to come and go whenever you choose to. And while we’re talking about unpredictable things, sometimes you’ll have a date moved up on your schedule right after work and you won’t have time to go home, change and get ready. We’ve got you covered in that area too. Feel free to use the shower installed in all of our spaces and roll out on a date refreshed and ready to show your best self. Coworking spaces are not only about working. They are more often than not about living your best life.
The power of community most often shows in small things. In the early beginnings of coworking, freelancers often had a problem when they wanted to have food delivered to them because their single meal price often wasn’t enough to reach the minimum amount set for delivery so we made a habit of arranging a group delivery if there are several people interested in ordering from the same place. Our Dorcol location in Cara Urosa street is the first coworking space with restaurant and bar and our members from all Nova Iskra locations can plan their lunch one day in advance by choosing one of the 3 meals from the menu that drops in their inboxes every day. This is the best way to plan your lunches, secure a healthy and diversified diet and never worry about what to eat or where to go for lunch.
All of Nova Iskra spaces have, now already well-known, rooftop terraces with barbecue that are so popular with our members, most of them would proudly emphasize it as the top perk of our locations. You can relax there during the day, hold meetings enjoying the fresh air in springtime and profit the sun in the long summer days. The terrace often turns into a perfect place for spontaneous mini after - work gathering where the members chit chat over beer or play a round of darts before they head home and finish for the day. It is also our favourite place to celebrate milestones, hold smaller summer events and sometimes make barbecue for no particular reason but because it’s fun. Those bonding moments are truly special and mean a lot to each of our members because they prove that the coworking concept is so much more than just renting a table or a conference room. It builds a strong and inclusive social and work dynamic that is so rarely found in any other work environments.
That is the reason why working in Nova Iskra is a lot like hitting a jackpot formula: productive and comfortable work environment- ka’ching, networking and business growth– ka’ching, affordable rounded solution for your business needs – ka’ching.
Our concept is proven to help businesses and individuals grow and thrive and after 9 years of building a strong coworking community we are proud to have had the opportunity to be a solid and supporting brick on many paths to success. One of them is Presta agency from Belgrade.
Back in 2013 coworking was still in its early days in Serbia and Nova Iskra Savamala location was 3 years old. It was home to a small but dedicated community of freelancers and several small businesses. Vladeta Radovanovic, was one of those dedicated members who came to Nova Iskra after looking for a calm, positive and cool place to settle as a freelancer and to web design.
His then-portfolio incorporated mainly foreign clients and he never expected to seek nor gain clients from domestic market. The decision to come to coworking space Nova Iskra changed his mindset and the way he thought about acquiring new business opportunities and expending his contact network.
The first year was just working and networking. It was a great relief to have a cool space to work and hang out and share breaks at the big terrace with other members. The coworking ecosystem set in Nova Iskra was supporting and friendly but was also more than willing to take interest in what the new member of the community was doing. So it didn’t come as a surprise when the first contacts and also the first domestic clients actually came through Nova Iskra’s network. A reliable contact in digital design niche is always in demand and when professionals recognize that someone can deliver quality work and show responsibility the emails and inquiries start pouring in. After several successful projects realized either through contacts from Nova Iskra or being hired directly by other members of the coworking space, it was time for the next big step.
Presta agency was founded in the winter of 2014 and from the start Vladeta based it on a dream of creating positive, long-lasting changes for businesses and organizations.
New projects demanded that some portions of workload be outsourced to other freelancers but soon it was clear that outsourcing and short-term contracts negotiations were taking up too much valuable time and were not the good solution in the long run.
It was time for the “one-man-show” to bring onboard new people that would share the same enthusiasm and vision. Presta team was slowly growing along with their business portfolio, exploring new possibilities, embracing innovation and encouraging new members to settle comfortably and enjoy the coworking environment. Presta is proud to have preserved the initial modus operandi, built in the early days, until today: working closely and directly with clients, putting in the same amount of dedication, mutual respect and positive vibes as when they were a part of the coworking setting. Over two years’ time period of residing in Nova Iskra, Presta has turned from one man’s vision and passion for web into a 15-membered team of young people with wide set of skills, expertise and experience.
They left Nova Iskra in 2015 to pursue new challenges and settle in their own space but according to their founder, they still keep their work environment relaxed and positive which makes them feel happy and to look forward to coming to work.
Thanks to individuals and companies like Presta and its CEO, a true success stories, and constant effort of everybody involved in managing Nova Iskra coworking spaces, we have been put on the map of recognizable and unique hubs that nurture ideas, support talent and connect the dispersed dots of creative industries, technology and innovation.
It’s impossible to know all the tricks and dark passages in the business playbook, but when you are a part of the community, you can get advice, share the benefits and ideas, and move your business to a faster lane. There’s more chance that you’ll avoid the mistakes and problems many of your predecessors in the industry have experienced. By becoming the part of the community, you get to expand your business playfield, organize and outsource your workload in a better, more secure way and also meet a beer buddy with whom you can reminiscent and complain about the last night’s game or discuss Star Wars.
We are all familiar with the saying “It takes a village to raise a child” but it is equally important to remember that it takes a dynamic and inspiring community to lift up a business.