John Neilan runs tuesday coworking, an award-winning independent coworking space based in Berlin. We got the opportunity to ask him a few questions about how he got into coworking and what sets indpendent spaces apart from their corporate counterparts.
Thanks for taking the time to talk with us! Our first question: How did you discover coworking and what led you to co-found tuesday coworking?
Desperation. I was unhappy as a translator and had translated one screw catalogue too many. I was ready to try something new. The idea of opening a coworking space had been suggested to me by a friend a few years prior, but I wasn’t ready. It was always in the back of my mind though, and after gaining some experience working out of different spaces in Morocco and South Africa, it was time to try my hand at it.
Schöneberg, where our two spaces are located, was where I lived when I first arrived in Berlin 16 years ago, so in a way I feel like I’ve come full circle. I was surprised to see so few spaces in an area that is actually quite well-to-do. And so, tuesday coworking was born.
Given that tuesday coworking is an independent space, what challenges and opportunities does that create for you?
Well besides from the fact that we’re not beholden to any investor whims, it means you’re free to do whatever you want. We recently hosted a movie series called Driving Iran (#drivingiran). I can imagine the geopolitical sensitivities of shareholders in brand spaces wishing to gain a foothold in the American market, for example, would perhaps preclude something as innocuous as a movie night. I like the fact that we don’t have to consider things like that.
On the other side of the coin, we have growth challenges. Other than the initial investment from myself and my partner back in 2016, everything we’ve made has been put back into the company in order to move it forward. Growth has been organic, slow and steady. Getting to that next step has been snail-paced, but there’s peace of mind to doing things this way. You make the next step when you know the financials permit it.
What changes have you seen in the Berlin coworking scene and how do you think they reflect global coworking trends?
I don’t know, Berlin has always been a bit of an anomaly in terms of European capitals. With most coworking companies not owning their buildings, rising rents are the major cha(lle)nge. I read recently that the average office rental price in Berlin is €21/m², which is enormous when you consider it was probably half that just ten years ago. This in itself doesn’t reflect global coworking trends, but locally you notice that newly launched spaces are starting out big. We’re seeing real estate companies getting into the game, who, in all honesty, have been getting away with murder for the last age and are finally realising they need to be offering actual service or be left behind.
Another trend, one that may be more global, is that potential members are shopping around more before signing up. With so many different spaces out there, potential members have become more discerning, and offering a table, chair and coffee simply isn’t enough anymore. You need an entire roster of extracurricular activities to show them how much they will benefit from being a member at your space. Luckily, it’s these events that make running a coworking space interesting.
What advice would you give someone who isn’t sure if they want to join a coworking space or just work from home/coffee shops?
There’s any number of articles out there stating the advantages of joining coworking spaces over working from home, so I won’t go into the details of that. When it comes down to it, it’s really just up to the individual. In the same way as not every space is suited to every person, not every person is suited to coworking. Do it if you feel like it. And for the free coffee.
Congratulations on being named Coworker.com’s Members’ Choice Award Winner in Berlin! What do you think sets you apart from other spaces locally and internationally?
Thanks! I’m not sure to be honest. There are loads of really excellent and interesting spaces all over Berlin. As it says on our website, we’re less focused on big bucks & business and more focused on community & culture, so we’re a bit more easy going perhaps. God help me if we ever starting chasing people down for 8 cents for printing a page. We also don’t keep track of our members’ hours. It’s up to them to be cool about it and if they go over, they should just come to me and we’ll arrange a different package.
So a lot of it comes down to trust. The fact that we’re a personable space where you’re dealing directly with the owner of a small business means you don’t really get people who might want to exploit that trust either. Everyone’s cool.
Thanks again for your time! How can people connect with tuesday coworking online?
Glad you asked!
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