Owning a business, being responsible for making hard choices day to day, creating opportunities, failing and succeeding - means you are a courageous person. Any decision that requires changing the status quo doesn’t come easy. Even if you know that it’s for the better. You want what’s best for your business, but how to decide what’s best if there are so many different experiences and opinions. You can’t trust your decision based on one coworking source that has little or no similarities to your business model or your vision. But we are sure that you’ll find several valuable insights that were not on your horizon before.
If you’ve been poking around the web with a stick of doubt and indecisiveness, looking for one truly valuable advice on whether coworking is the right move for your business and if it really works, you’ve hit the bull’s eye.
We are happy to present you the stories and notes from longtime (and newly joined) successful coworkers, ready to share their best advice on why coworking might just be the best decision that crossed your business mind. We asked them to really think about their own coworking experience and to single out some reasons, benefits and insights into coworking life.
They were not randomly chosen. There’s a good reason why we asked these coworking members, in particular. Some of the coworkers interviewed here are experienced professionals, running teams of people, some are just starting their coworking journey with their businesses still at the first phase of development, and some of them come from the industries you’d never believe would be a match for a coworking space. That is precisely the reason why we handpicked them from all walks of business landscape, so you could really get to see the big picture without missing the important details.
It's also worth noting that in the end, you’d really need to go and check out the space yourself. We just wanted to distill some of the main reasons people are deciding to go for a coworking space instead of working from home or renting an office space. The reasons our interviewed coworkers shared for moving to a coworking space and the advantages they stated might not be what you expected. But that’s what makes them valuable. The most important thing is that they are true, first-hand experiences and not the educated guesses of someone who’s never really been down that road but merely explored the options.
That’s what makes this list of coworking members’ answers a carefully curated one. It can’t be a good decision if it’s not an informed one, so let’s dive into it.
You’d probably think that the first eliminating factor is the price. If the price is right, then, all the other conditions might be a matter of compromise. But it turns out, the price of the coworking space is not a crucial issue when it comes to deciding on the right space. Things like available amenities, work hours, management approachability, general atmosphere, privacy and additional costs take the weight on the scale. And those are all the topics we wanted to cover with our interviewees.
Without further ado, let’s meet our coworking insiders!
Olivier Bressard is the general manager at Air-Cube, a company that processes, enrich travel data and delivers cutting-edge visualization solutions to facilitate and accelerate decisions and help customers turn travel data into action. He has been a member of Nova Iskra coworking space in Savamala, Belgrade for 3 years and in his own words “3 years now – and not a day I regret it!”. Moving to a foreign country is not an easy decision, but setting your business in a foreign country is even more challenging. That’s why Olivier’s insight about his coworking experience has a special value for foreigners currently residing in Serbia and considering coworking spaces.
Predrag Dikovic, Attorney at Law, settled his Law office “Dikovic” at Nova Iskra coworking space in 2016 and has since only changed the desk position, but never his decision to opt for a coworking space. He’s the favourite and reliable go-to attorney of this vibrant coworking community and the ultimate adviser and fact-checker on anything concerning civil laws, human rights and alternative music.
Milos Mastilovic, owner of Click Media, internet marketing company, has worked from Nova Iskra Zemun space for more than a year. Click Media is a team of creative professionals, striving to achieve the best results for their clients and create long term partnerships by building trust through delivering excellence. Eight members of Click Media team have since their founding realized more than 1200 campaigns, over 100 projects and put more than 83000 hours of work combined. They like to calculate everything. For them, success is a clearly quantifiable category.
Sanja Colakovic, founder of digital marketing agency Studio 42, has been with Nova Iskra since 2017. Studio 42 has grown from the initial freelancing concept to a fully formed agency that mostly works for clients coming from creative industries, IT sector and education. She is always in the mood to inspect your Instagram business page and tell you what you should do to gain more followers. Her desk bunny humidifier is the star of the Savamala “on the right from the staircase” section. Airquality and sustainability is important to her and she will educate you on these topics!
Milica Vujicic, CEO and co-founder of SEOProLab Agency is counting her second year in coworking ecosystem of Nova Iskra and is preaching the importance of SEO to any coworking members that would listen. Many coworkers have employed her SEO skills to lift up their web presence. Don’t ask her how to rank number one on Google, unless you’re willing to hire her. But you can always seek advice on the Chinese takeout that should be ordered for lunch. Because, she’s kind of an expert in that field, too.
Milan Trpkovic, Secretary of Association of Publishers and Booksellers of Serbia, has worked at Nova Iskra Savamala location since May 2018. He took over the position and the same desk from the previous secretary of the Association, and although it wasn’t his decision to work from a coworking space, he grew accustomed to it and after initial reservations, has, over time, found a new appreciation for these kinds of spaces. It goes without saying that all the members come to him for a good book recommendation, and Milan is happy to “feel the pulse” of the reading audience and advice members of the coworking space on current literature trends.
MAKING A MOVE
How many times have you heard that “it’s all about checks and balances”? One of the first things people would ask you when you seek advice on whether your business should become a part of the coworking community, is “Does it pay off?”. And it might seem like a no-brainer. How much is it going to cost me and will I be able to achieve the desired ROI? What factors should I take into consideration and measure so that I can actually see if the move to coworking space is paying off? What’s interesting is that, as it happens, the major driver for moving your business to a coworking space is not actually about the money at all. It sure is an important tick in the pro column, but the prevalent answer was actually the need for change, the need to get the work-life balance in check and finally stop working in your pajamas (although we would argue that it wouldn’t be a problem for a coworking space to show up in your favourite jammies, if you insisted). Also, the general vibe of the space. The relaxed and friendly atmosphere.
All of the coworkers we interviewed had different decision paths and motivation to settle their businesses in the coworking space. So, we asked them to share it and put a finger on the one most important reason why they opted for a coworking space:
What was the crucial detail in your decision to move your business to Nova Iskra Workspace?
Olivier: “I first came to Nova Iskra Savamala as a walk-in client renting a hot desk for a day as I was in Belgrade for a short 3-day stay, arranging my visa before moving here. I hadn’t yet decided how I would organize myself on the long term for a workplace, I was thinking of either renting an office or renting a flat with a separate room to work from. But after just one afternoon at Nova Iskra I changed my mind and basically decided that this would be my new office. There were definitely two main factors that immediately seduced me and were the reason for my decision: the space itself, the top terrace, of course, and the super welcoming atmosphere that the Nova Iskra team created.”
Predrag: “It was mostly the need for a new challenge. Although a coworking space is usually not considered to be a very common solution for an attorney’s practice, I was eager to try something different because I am a strong believer that law practice shouldn’t be exempt from new trends.”
Milos: “Well, I’ve got to say that firstly, it was the rooftop of the Zemun coworking space. I’m a big fan of this part of Belgrade and it was conveniently close to my flat.”
Sanja: “I’m not a fan of working from home and since my business doesn't require a lot of space, renting a table at Iskra seemed like a logical step. For me, it was important to spend my working hours in professional surroundings with nice and friendly people. I think it’s important to get up, get ready and go to work. It adds quality to your life-work balance and provides a different perspective for your business opportunities. I sensed that if you take your business to such a vibrant and interesting environment, it can’t be a bad thing, it can only inspire you and motivate you. I’m happy that it turned out to be true.”
Milica: “Because of the nature of my business, I can make a choice to work from home, but I don't like it. I think that every person should have a separate work space from the living space. And Nova Iskra has been one of the great options to serve for that purpose. Even if you have a separate room for your home office, it still might take a toll on your social life to be confined to your home and it surely offers a lot of opportunities to procrastinate. That’s why I knew I had to find a nice work environment that fulfills my business needs and keeps me from being distracted.”
Milan: “It wasn’t my decision, because I took over duties from my colleague on position of the secretary of our organization. He told me that he joined Nova Iskra coworking community (in December 2017) because it was significantly cutting costs for our organization, and the other people he met here seemed to share that opinion. I’m glad that we can be efficient and do our work without spending funds on renting an office space with all the additional costs.
WHAT’S IN IT FOR ME?
As coworking has developed into something resembling a movement in recent years, it has become clearer that it was not just about the space and being economical. The networking opportunities, the vibrant social aspect of the coworking experience, the exclusive peek into the ongoing tech trends and the advantages of learning from professionals coming from different backgrounds are really what the coworking ecosystem is all about. The opportunities that lie within the community are often rarely found in the business world outside because it is simply not that interconnected and friendly.
Moving to a coworking space should actually be just like moving your business to another location, another town, because the opportunities there are better and you’ll gain more clients and establish meaningful business partnerships and connections. At the time, many large-scale companies, the big players, are moving some of their sectors to coworking spaces because they saw a spike in productivity and overall better satisfaction among employees who worked from those spaces.
At Nova Iskra, a close-knit community means they always got your back when advice or help is needed, when there’s a deadline coming or a problem with a needy and complicated client occurs. And there’s so much to gain from just hanging around and sharing the communal space with so many experts. But let’s see what benefits and opportunities this coworking experience brought to our insiders’ businesses.
We asked them:
What is the biggest advantage of Nova Iskra, what has the membership in the coworking space brought to your business, did it improve some business practices and how it reflected on your business contacts and networking?
Olivier: “From the business perspective, I didn’t gain directly, in terms of things like clients or business development. I was, however, able to leverage some of the know-how of the other members of the workspace and bring business to them (e.g. I met my lawyer working on my visa/immigration paper in the Nova Iskra Office). I also got some perspective on what I do through discussions with other members of the community.”
Predrag: “I would firstly point out a very balanced working atmosphere, nice work space and many really interesting people. Apart from gaining new clients who are also members of Nova Iskra coworking spaces, my business acquired a development route quite different from what I had planned, and I mean this in strictly positive sense. It surely is, in part, due to Nova Iskra being a unique and diverse work environment.”
Milos: “In my case, moving to Nova Iskra coworking space didn’t have an impact on business opportunities or collaborations on mutual ideas but it was meaningful when it comes to meeting new people and gaining new experiences and perspectives through hanging out and talking to other members of the coworking community.”
Sanja: “The biggest advantage for my business is the range of people from creative industries working from Nova Iskra. The possibility to connect and work with people that you trust and see on a daily basis is priceless. We all refer each other to people
outside Nova Iskra as well, so it's a mutual benefit and opportunity for everyone’s business to grow. And in my opinion, that is exactly the biggest takeaway - Nova Iskra definitely helped our businesses grow. Apart from working with the Nova Iskra team on several projects, we teamed up with other coworking colleagues on different projects and got recommended further. It is not only a great opportunity to learn and expand the portfolio but also to get involved in so many interesting projects that would otherwise be unavailable.”
Milica: One of the biggest advantages is probably the opportunity to meet a lot of very interesting people from different industries. For me personally, Nova Iskra coworking environment has been important in establishing a few amazing personal and business relationships. When I was starting a new business, I hired the woman I had met here as the lead designer and it was not only very convenient in terms of collaboration and holding meetings, but I was also very grateful to have found a reliable professional that I know I would be happy to recommend further and hire again if the project requires an experienced designer.
Milan: “My job is specific and mostly different from the other coworking peers in Nova Iskra. But, even though it might not be the obvious choice of the association such as ours, it is certain that the coworking space enables us to create and nurture a good image of our organization. It’s especially important when I try to present what we do to our partners when they come to a business meeting. They are usually quite intrigued and positively surprised by our choice of workspace.
THERE’S SOMETHING ABOUT THE SPACE
Finding a perfect coworking space for your business is sort of like finding a perfect apartment to rent. It’s hard and quite unnerving. Everything must be considered and weighed down because, after all, if you are going to be spending more than half of your day at one place, it’s important to feel the vibe and see if it suits your personality, habits and the dynamics of your way of doing business.
Apart from the obvious requirements that most future coworkers are looking for, like fast and reliable internet connection, well-equipped kitchen and meeting rooms, it’s interesting to see what really separates a quality, efficiently run coworking space from all the others on the coworking market. Each coworking space has its perks, but you might want to take time to really explore and go through all the services offered and calculate in the services that some spaces charge additionally. If you are a spur-of-the-moment person and you don’t have fixed working hours, you need to check the operating hours, and see if it’s a match with your work biorhythm, or whether there’s an option to work on Saturdays. It’s all important and might take a winning turn on your pros and cons list.
When people move their business from their home office to a coworking space, they usually don’t want anything too “corporate” or impressionable. Most say that the design plays a big role, colours, the light and the “coziness”. You want it to be relaxed and not to flashy, but also keep a professional and working appeal.
Another factor is, naturally, the people. Some opt to go to coworking spaces where they know that people form their industry reside, and feel comfortable around the same lot. But for others it’s exactly the opposite. They look for diversified coworking spaces where they could get inspired by different influences and people who they would not otherwise cross professional paths with.
Privacy and being able to shelter yourself form the “space noise” has been a largely discussed issue. Many people tend to have an impression that coworking spaces do not provide enough privacy and peace in order to focus on your work. We are sure that there are coworking spaces where work discipline and atmosphere are not respected, but to this day, we’ve never had someone complaining about being unable to work because they are bothered by someone or something else. It wouldn’t be tolerated and members are usually naturally aware that if there’s some “noisy” type of business that needs to be done, to take it to some of the conference rooms, or outside on the balcony. Even if they’re not at first aware of that, they acquire it pretty quickly.
When asked about the vibe of the Savamala location, the first one to open of Nova Iskra coworking spaces, the crew that runs it had a very simple answer:
“The space itself is unique because it offers an array of perks, amenities and services that will make your workday just a little more fun and a lot less complicated.”
After all, isn’t this what all of us want for our work life? And is it really achievable? Once again, we asked our coworking insiders to give us their five cents on this, and the question was:
“What makes working from Nova Iskra more interesting compared to other coworking spaces or working from home?”
Olivier: “I can’t really compare to other working spaces because I never really looked for another one. I like the space and the community and didn’t ever feel the need to look elsewhere. I do work from home from time to time, but having a work space to go to and separate work from home is important for me. Also, the space is comfortable without being too corporate which I like, the desk, the extra screen, the good internet and the community are a great plus to make my workday much more productive than when I’m home.”
Predrag: “Well, it’s about the people, before anything. During the day, as it happens, I talk to many people from different fields and business industries. Through those small talks I learn things, pick up some tricks, even, that I can later apply to my own business. Furthermore, I find that it’s very important to have some sort of a “vent” that would allow you to talk and spend time with people who do not belong to your business or professional circle. I really find that refreshing.”
Milos: “For me it’s really the freedom of movement. Nova Iskra coworking space in Zemun has quite a big balcony and rooftop, so you are not only confined to the desk space and meeting rooms. It means a lot. But, I must say that the key factor that brought me to Nova Iskra Zemun workspace is the meeting rooms that are free, there’s no additional fee for using them, and that’s the main reason why I transferred my business from Office Me coworking space. I would definitely not want to pay extra for using a meeting room.”
Sanja: “When I was searching for co-working space, I first did an online search and then visited a few spaces. Nova Iskra was not only different and better in small, day to day, technical offerings (printing, coffee, tea, extra computer monitor etc.) but had the most comfortable chairs, tables with lockers, rooftop garden and professional vibe. What I really liked was this amazing energy that is buzzing around the Savamala space. At the time I was deciding on the new space for my business, Nova Iskra was also the only co-working space that had unlimited hours for meeting rooms included in the monthly price which was critical for me, as I was just starting to acquire clients and really needed a place to hold meetings without having to worry about running out of time for the meeting.”
Milica: “What I find very important is that at Nova Iskra coworking space, you can easily establish relationships with people. The atmosphere is very cozy and the people are friendly. You get that feeling of familiarity and openness. One of the main advantages is the terrace, especially in spring and early autumn - it’s the best place to work from. Having an option to work in the natural setting, surrounded by plants in bloom is very unique and rare in the urban environment. During the hot summer days, we’ve had people sunbathing on lounge chairs during working hours, and you could see that it meant a lot in terms of stress relief for them, which is pretty cool. The crew that runs our Savamala location would every now and then organize barbecue events and cocktails on the terrace after working hours, so it is always a pleasure to attend and mingle with other coworkers and guests.
Also, you have options to collaborate with people whom you trust. Business meetings are easy to manage because of fully equipped and free meeting rooms, which also represents a cost and time-saving benefit for all.
Milan: “What I find great is that there are a lot of different people with a wide scope of interests and knowledge. I feel that I can talk to them on a lot of topics, learn and hear new things that would not necessarily be on my radar otherwise. It’s valuable for me and I really enjoy those conversations during breaks. It definitely refreshes a work day.
I NEED A YES OR A NO.
Just like no one should tell you how to run your business, no one should really give you a definitive answer on whether it’s viable for you to move your business to a coworking space. It comes down to your own readiness to take the next step, to accept that not people nor spaces are perfect, but that they can be more that you’ve ever hoped them to be. Keeping an open mind, but never making compromises about the things that you consider essential for the functioning of your business and your own wellbeing. But experience makes all the difference, and it’s wise to listen to those who have already embarked on the coworking journey.
One of the best indicators that a coworking space delivers what it promises are the number of recommendations from their own members. As they say, if it works - it works, no further explaining needed. But we were curious. So we asked:
Would you recommend your business partner or friend to move their business to some of the Nova Iskra Workspaces? If the answer is yes, tell us why.
Olivier: “Definitely yes! And the reasons are many. The nice atmosphere, the quality of the working spaces, the flexible hours, the wonderful terrace, the nice community, the efficient and helpful Nova Iskra managing team, the convenient conference rooms, to state just a few.”
Predrag: “Of course. I am convinced that more people should try out this kind of working space. I am probably the best example of how even the business niche like a law practice, that many would not think suitable to reside in this form of work environment, can really achieve good results and develop in every sense.”
Milos: “Yes, I would recommend it. The main reasons are the great rooftop that we have in Zemun and free meeting rooms.”
Sanja: “I already did. There are several people that moved their businesses to Nova Iskra after coming only for a meeting. They started asking questions about the coworking space and wanted to hear my experience. After I presented them all the advantages from my point of view, and showed them around, most of them were intrigued. They all pointed out immediately how great the overall energy was, and some said that they never imagined it that way. I guess coworking was promoted as some cool place where people who don’t have much work decided to spend their time. But once you see how hardworking and able and inspiring members at my Savamala location are, you really change your perception of everything that you thought you knew about the coworking life. In conclusion, I would say that it's good for your business, for your social life, and makes the job you do more enjoyable.”
Milica: “Yes, I would. Primarily, it’s great and really vital, in my opinion, to have your own space for work, a space that’s not your home. Secondly, this type of work environment is a wonderful opportunity to make a real connection with the people at your place of work, which is very rare nowadays. We’ve all been witnesses to how prevalent toxic work atmosphere can get, and I’m happy to say that there’s absolutely no possibility for something like that happening at a coworking space. Basically, you only make friends or business partners if you choose to. And it’s great. But if you are an introvert and would like to be left alone, that’s also possible here, and no one will judge you for it. So, you can have it your way, whichever way it is.
Milan: “Yes, this is definitely the right place to go if they need a huge and comfortable coworking space with a great garden to relax, take a break and enjoy the warm weather.
LOOKING IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION
Those were some of the stories from our coworkers that we were happy have had the opportunity to share. They might point you in the right direction, and we hope that they were helpful in putting things in perspective if you’re someone who has not known a lot about how coworking really works, or had doubts about whether it works at all. There are still many elements that anyone who is deciding on moving a business to a coworking space has to explore and ones might be more important to you than they are to the next person. So yes, you should definitely explore them, but it’s all “out there in the air” unless you take the time to visit and really feel the space and the atmosphere.
Don’t forget that there are so many options depending on the scope of your business, the size of your team, the technical support you need or even the design you prefer.
If you have some special requirements that you find essential for your or your team’s satisfaction with a working space, don’t be shy to express them. The crews running our coworking spaces are more than willing to go an extra mile in making sure you have everything you need. They do that because they simply don’t want to see an underwhelmed or dissatisfied member disrupting the atmosphere and the work flow of the community. Improving our spaces not only in terms of the space itself but also in terms of quality of time spent at our coworking spaces has been a constant goal.
The main point to remember is that when you join a coworking community, you are no longer on your own. It’s still solely you who is responsible for the success and development of your business, but all that is much easier to achieve with strong back of the coworking support system. Once you become a part of it, you realize that work hours are not supposed to be just about the work. It’s the large portion of your life and you should spend it in a friendly, encouraging atmosphere, where mutual respect and wellbeing of members are never overlooked. And as you may have noticed, most of the coworkers interviewed here have stressed the social aspect of the coworking spaces, the approachable and helpful people, the learning possibilities and the small talks that are not as empty and formal as they often are in a strictly corporate environment. It’s not overreaching to say that coworking can really do wonders for your social life. Only if you want it to, that is.
And at the end, there’s a question that you yourself would want to answer:
What have you got to lose?