Co-working spaces in Barcelona have a lot to offer female entrepreneurs.
Barcelona is home to many fantastic co-working spaces including Downtown Offices located in Sant Gervasi, which was the first work hub for female only entrepreneurs in Spain. Cobaby is an innovative space for expat and local working women providing space to work with nursery services close by. And there are many many more, each inspiring growth, collaboration, and creation and often offering daily and weekly activities, events and workshops. Ben Nachoom was a bond investor in the City of London. Now he’s the CEO of OneCoWork, an award-winning co-working space in Barcelona’s Marina Port Vell. Other locations are in Plaça Catalunya and Barrio Gótico. Here he talks to MumAbroad Life about the co-working way of life.
Why do you think there has been such a boom in co-working spaces in Barcelona?
Co-working is not just a new way of doing office space – the boom in co-working is consumer drive. There has been a fundamental change in the human mindset over the past few decades as the workforce moves towards valuing experience and usage more than ownership (money). We see this across nearly every industry. The preferences of working age adults are not the same as they were 30, 20 or even 10 years ago. A large part of this is the shift away from the preference of owning assets, towards being able to use them (with an exception perhaps being the housing market).
The transport industry is a great example. Look at all of these mobility apps, just in Barcelona alone, a city where a huge portion of the population travels by moped, people are now stopping to buy mopeds and are using sharing apps such as YEGO, eCooltra, Scoot and many more. Other examples are Lime and Bird. As everything moves towards the “as-a-service” model, co-working spaces are simply the office market’s natural answer to these shifting preferences.
Employees no longer place so much value on the corner office, or the Porsche that might come after a 20 year career. Much more value is being placed on the journey and the experience that a company can provide. With huge competition for top talent, companies are forced to up their game when it comes to providing a great experience to their workforce. While many younger companies and startups that are going through hyper growth have had this mentality from day one, the same can’t be said for many larger organisations. Placing teams in co-working spaces, with all the social and environmental benefits that it brings, helps companies to compete for this talent.
What kind of people tend to rent co-working spaces?
Literally every type of business. At OneCoWork we have members ranging from individual freelancers right the way up to teams of 120+ from large multinationals. No matter where your business is on the size scale, co-working is likely to bring both financial and productivity gains when compared to a traditional office.
What are the advantages for entrepreneurs working in a co-working space as opposed to a rented office?
It’s important to split this question into the three main types of clients: freelancers / microbusinesses, SMEs & growing startups and large corporations.
Freelancers & Microbusinesses
Social aspects of larger work environments (the community!)
More flexible lease agreements
Cost savings vs traditional rental of small office spaces
Ecosystem and interaction benefits
SMEs & Growing Startups
Flexibility regarding both upsizing and downsizing
No dead cash tied up in large rental deposits
Lease terms that are shorter than business plans (i.e. 3 year business plans vs 10 year lease terms)
Less CapEx spend and nicer spaces than they would otherwise get – employer branding
Plus all of the above points from freelancers & microbusinesses
Focus on the core business
Employment branding is a huge issue for many entrenched businesses
Reduction of balance sheet liabilities (new accounting rules)
Not necessary to undertake large real estate projects which are not the core business of most enterprises
Plus all of the above points from freelancers & microbusinesses and SMEs & Growing Startups
What kind of additional services does OneCoWork offer?
At OneCoWork we see co-working as just a platform on which to support our members and their businesses and have plans to launch a whole host of services to help the businesses in our community thrive. In fact, we’ve just launched OneConnect, a recruiter-on-demand service. A lot of the businesses in our community were telling us that they have trouble hiring on multiple (or even single) positions quickly, they simply don’t have the capacity to do their day job and also an in-depth search for the right person. Traditional recruiters are available, but they’re expensive, usually charging 20% of the first year of the placed employee’s salary. We wanted to do something about this, so we set out to create a new recruitment platform that places recruiters into your team on an hourly basis, ready to do a big chunk of the leg work and collect and interview promising candidates. Only those candidates that are approved by OneConnect recruiters are then handed over to your team for second stage interviews. The greatest point is that we can do this at around 10% – 20% of the cost of a traditional recruiter, meaning that businesses can conserve their capital for what’s most important – growth.
What is the price range at OneCoWork?
We have different memberships to suit all kinds of different needs, ranging from 80€ per person per month up to 400€ per person per month.
Are people obliged to rent for a fixed period of time?
Part of the experience that I have referred to previously involves making sure that businesses have the flexibility they need to operate in an agile way. We therefore have both month-to-month contracts, as well as long term contracts for those businesses who want to be able to forecast for longer periods.
Where do you see the future of co-working spaces heading?
Of course there are widely documented criticisms of the business model and it’s ability to withstand economic downturns. Ultimately we won’t know until we go through the cycle, but I know that in a downturn I would rather have my office in a short term lease than be tied into long term contracts, and we may yet see demand for co-working among SMEs & corporates stimulated during a recession as they look for the flexibility to downsize as appropriate during times of hardship.
There are also some criticisms that co-working doesn’t suit some businesses due to privacy issues. On the other hand I’ve seen many regulated banks set up offices in co-working spaces. It requires a little bit of special preparation, but if they can do co-working then I find it hard to believe that other businesses cannot be accommodated without their privacy needs being looked after.
To say that co-working will disappear is not about the resilience of the business models to economic cycles, it’s saying that somehow the mentality of the current generation will be reversed for future generations. I find this extremely unlikely given the direction of trends over the last decades.
Quite simply, co-working provides companies of all sizes a plug and play model. Companies can locate teams in any geography relatively quickly without having to worry so much about the comfort of their employees, the legal aspects involved with setting up offices in foreign companies etc etc. Without these long term leases that you get with conventional office space, the cost of failing in new markets is also minimised to some extent, meaning that companies can experiment more efficiently. As co-working companies become more global, it will only get easier for companies to set up teams in new companies as they won’t even have to change provider based on their company, further stimulating the growth of co-working. I see the co-working industry moving more towards the hotel industry. Different companies will have different preferences on design and different preferences on services, and each provider will have their niche. The way the industry is growing now, I strongly believe there’s room for growth for everyone.
For more information on different co-working options in Barcelona: