What will our workplaces look like? | Business | Economic and financial news from a German point of view | DW

It’s built from scrap metal and painted in bright colors: a car sitting in the middle of a desk. Around, chairs made of tires. If you removed everyone working on their computers nearby, you might mistake this place for a garage. This is how the Nairobi Garage coworking space began in 2011.

This is when coworking spaces take off in America and Europe. But there was no flexible office space for local start-ups in Nairobi.

“There were kinds of equipped offices for international companies that didn’t want to take too many risks or too many operations on the African continent… and these were very expensive and did not target the local market at all,” he said. said Hannah Clifford, co-founder and director of the Nairobi Garage coworking space in Nairobi, Kenya.

At the time, few people were interested in coworking. But demand grew and in 2014 Nairobi Garage revamped its brand. Today, it caters to over 400 companies and operates at four locations across Nairobi. He plans to open two more sites next year.

In the wake of COVID-19, Clifford said, coworking was on the rise in Africa. Once seen as reserved for tech companies, startups and freelancers, Clifford believes everyone is “moving out there.”

“Even large companies. Banks would like to work in coworking spaces,” she said.

This will allow companies to attract new talent, and workers will be able to learn from each other more easily. But more importantly, businesses can outsource the hassle of office logistics. “Dealing with suppliers is also difficult in Nairobi. So you will only have one supplier instead of 20,” Clifford argued.

Around the world, the demand for coworking spaces has increased dramatically in recent years.

An offer, not an order

As the world becomes more and more digital, the demands for hybrid work models, mobile offices, flexible offices and coworking spaces are growing.

This is also true of the German national railway company, Deutsche Bahn. The digital transformation has changed not only the way Deutsche Bahn operates, but also the place of work of its employees. “Our motto is: an office should meet the needs of our employees, their tasks and provide our staff not only with a space for creativity and collaboration, but also for concentration,” said Bettina Munimus, project manager for the mobile work unit of Deutsche Bahn. This is what prompted them to develop modern office concepts that meet the needs of their employees.

The coronavirus pandemic has shown that collaboration can work digitally just as well. Indeed, in the summer of 2021, the Executive Board of the DB group decided to resolutely integrate mobile work into everyday professional life. “DB does not dictate a full-time home office, nor a full-time presence at the office,” noted Munimus.

A home for digital nomads

In addition to redesigning its workspaces for its employees, Deutsche Bahn is also extending this offer to digital nomads. In August 2020, Deutsche Bahn opened its first coworking space in Berlin. Business travelers, commuters and, of course, startups can book their coworking workspace at the station.

Located on the 10th floor of the Central Station building, the space measures 1,500 square meters (16,100 square feet). The aim is to provide easy access for those who wish to spend a few minutes or hours concentrating on their work. In addition, through Deutsche Bahn’s free everyworks app, a person or team can book individual workplaces by the minute or even become a long-term tenant.

This Berlin coworking space is part of the Smart City initiative of Deutsche Bahn. With a whole network of workspaces in stations, the public company wishes to promote environmentally friendly train travel. In Hanover and soon in Frankfurt, teleworkers can book workspaces in their respective stations.

Deutsche Bahn engine clearing the tracks of snow

Deutsche Bahn paved the way for its own coworking project in Berlin

Workers want coworking

Critical voices have pointed out the weaknesses and drawbacks of flexible and mobile working. But the benefits, such as connecting like-minded professionals and improving worker well-being and efficiency, speak for themselves.

Many employees prefer to work remotely or in coworking spaces rather than commuting to work every day, according to the results of employee surveys from Fujitsu Limited in Japan. Speaking at the Global Diversity Impact Forum in October 2021, Hiroki Hiramatsu, Director of Human Resources at Fujitsu Limited, pointed out that “the average monthly commute time for my employees across Japan has decreased. about 30 hours per person for 80% of the employees. ”Hiramatsu also added that the demand for using flexible offices has also skyrocketed.

This follows several initiatives launched by the company in 2020 that aimed to change the way its employees work and live. Among the initiatives was Work Life Shift, which empowers employees to choose the best time and place to work.

“We have redesigned our offices to allow an efficient and, above all, active exchange,” said Hiramatsu. He believes that for his business to be successful, the business must become more goal-oriented in the midst of major social changes.

“It is essential that employees think and act independently about their own ‘work style’ and ‘way of life’. And may the company support them in their well-being and diversity, “concluded Hiramatsu.

Edited by: Kristie Pladson

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