Eva Durnová: Coworking as a workplace of the future. How does it work and why use it?

Eva Durnová: Coworking as a workplace of the future. How does it work and why use it?

We have moved into an era where remote or home office work is commonplace. At least in certain industries. But how do you figure it out if working from your own living room just doesn't work for you? It's time to try coworking!

Eva Durnová is the Marketing Director of Impact Hub Czech Republic. She takes care of the development and direction of the brand, its visual identity and is responsible for strategic campaigns in the coworking and innovation part. Impact Hub ČR is the operator of Impact Hub coworking centres in Prague, Brno, Ostrava and Zlín. It also implements a number of acceleration, innovation, community and educational programmes to develop entrepreneurship and socially beneficial business. Impact Hub coworking centres are inspiring workspaces combining the benefits of a fully equipped office, internet café and business incubator.

Do you think coworking is the office of the future?

Coworking is already a proven model today. In the sense of looking into the future and the development of the labour market, in which home office and remote work are becoming more and more standardised, it is of course also the future. However, on behalf of Impact Hub, I would rather argue against the phrase "coworking as the office of the future", because our concept of coworking is based on openness, collaboration and community. On sharing and mutual support. We are a space, a workplace if you will, of the present and the future, not an office that suggests a closed space.

What are the advantages of coworking?

I see the biggest advantage as the wide range of people you will meet in the space. From an interior designer to a lawyer to a sound engineer, you have a huge reservoir of verified contacts under one roof that you can use in your professional and personal life. Networking is extremely important to the growth of any professional career. Moreover, at Impact Hub, we actively seek to connect and get to know our members so they can get the most out of their membership with us - that's the job of our community managers, who know each member personally.

Another benefit of being an Impact Hub member specifically is our accelerator programs, mentor network and support. We run several accelerator programmes throughout the year for start-ups and advanced, commercial and impact projects and businesses and have a large panel of consultants, experts and mentors who are able to take your venture or your business to the next level. Dozens, maybe even hundreds of great projects have come through these programs.

To complete the picture, we also have a direct link to funds that can support (not only) start-up entrepreneurs. These include the Tilia Impact Ventures fund, which focuses on projects that have a significant and measurable impact, or the newly established PurposeTech fund, which seeks out and invests in promising projects at their earliest stage. You can routinely meet and talk to the co-founders of these funds in our space.

This suddenly opens up new possibilities for our members, all they have to do is connect with a community manager and she can connect them and support them in their growth. That's why we proudly say Impact Hub is the Place to do it.

Who is coworking suitable for? What career fields are most likely to use coworking services?

For everyone! Our membership base is very diverse and although the expected positions (marketing, IT, coaches, salespeople) predominate, there are also lawyers, builders, community gardeners and HR professionals. Freelancers and small business owners predominate in shared spaces, and we also have senior managers, local branch managers or innovation teams from large corporates in offices in all cities. Our services, tariffs and member benefits are diverse enough to provide the service and support needed by entrepreneurial people across the age, expertise and industry spectrum.

How has the coworking space changed since Impact Hub was founded? Are you currently following any trends in coworking?

Impact Hub is the oldest coworking centre in the Czech Republic and actually a pioneer of coworking. At the time it was founded, very few people knew the concept and it was met with a lot of mistrust. As the company transformed, the mindset of the people gradually changed and the collaborative environment started to flourish here as well. Gradually, of course, other coworking centers began to join in, seeing the concept as an increasing opportunity. Sharing has become a trend in all areas and nowadays, an important part of the success of the coworking concept is the sustainability component that it entails. We even often see places that are not coworking spaces in the original sense of the word, but only offer shared offices, for example, taking advantage of this trend.

Freelancers and small business owners predominate in shared spaces.

When did you see the biggest increase in interest in coworking?

It was probably in 2018-2019 and it has to do with the evolution that Impact Hub has been going through since its inception, the first few years of forging a path through a field that no one had ever ploughed before, before those efforts began to bear fruit and in 2018 and 2019 we saw the highest ever growth in membership.

Has the coworking pandemic affected interest in coworking?

I'm sure she influenced everything. For us, the pandemic was marked by the opening of the new Impact Hub in Zlín, which in itself says a lot. It showed that companies are starting to think about their fixed costs and how to reduce them, and that coworking or an office with our flexible conditions is a great alternative. With tariffs, members only pay for facilities when they actually use them, and with fixed desks and company space rentals, they don't have to pay deposits or cancellations on long-term contracts. Plus, we can combine shared and private offices and take care of utilities, cleaning and equipment. Thus, we have seen an increase in interest in our services during the pandemic and it can be expected that there will continue to be interest in alternatives to traditional office centres, also in view of the standardisation of remote working and the popularity of home offices.

During the covid, the demand for smaller offices or flexible corporate tariffs increased quite a lot. On the other hand, demand for hourly tariffs fell slightly as many freelancers saw their work opportunities reduced and had to cut back on their costs. This year we're seeing things getting back to normal again, our open space is filling back up with those who use hourly tariffs, a lot of them have come back to us and we're glad to see that this period has stabilised.

The biggest impact of the pandemic was of course on our event agenda. It has been reduced to a minimum. Now it's back to normal and I think you can see that people are really hungry for networking events and that they missed them.

In which cities can you currently use the Impact Hub services? Are you planning to expand your reach to other cities in the Czech Republic?

We are currently in four cities - Prague twice, Brno, Ostrava and Zlín. But we are also looking for new locations, for example in Mladá Boleslav we are conducting a feasibility study with the vision of opening a new Impact Hub here.

Prague has the largest membership base if we take the two branches together. Otherwise, it is Brno, which is the largest in terms of area and also hosts the largest number of members.

If I want to cowork, how does it work?

Quite simply, just fill in the form on our website, call or come in person. We will show you around the space, explain how it works, answer all your questions and give you a free day to try it out. That's the best way to see if you're comfortable with us. And it will!

During the covid, the demand for smaller offices or flexible corporate tariffs increased quite a lot.

What amenities can I expect if I decide to rent a workstation at your hub?

It depends on which service you choose. In the hourly rates we provide a variable workstation, but it is also possible to rent your own desk, for example - with that comes other accessories like lockers or your own key (we really give you a key to the Impact Hub and you can come here anytime, even if we're not here, etc.

But what you always get is access to office supplies including a printer, discounts on meeting and conference room rentals, and various discounted offers and discounts from our partners. You'll also get access to special member events and visits to other Impact Hubs. Last but not least, you'll get access to all our shared spaces, including a bar with great coffee and quality snacks.

Is the workplace at the Hub ergonomically equipped?

We strive to provide our members with comfort in the form of quality furniture. All our equipment is from the renowned Wiesner-Hager company.

What budget should I prepare if I am a sole trader who wants to use your co-working services 3 times a week for 8 hours?

For such cases, we offer hourly tariffs that can be used during the month. They range from 10 hours/month to 100. In case you need to draw more, we have an Unlimited or Custom Desk plan. And if you only need to use a day with no commitment, we also have a daily pass. And of course, all of this is flexible to change as needed. You'll always find the most up-to-date pricing on our website.

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