May 2016

Coworking Story #2 – The Crucial Success of Glass Walls

DirkEvery two weeks we publish a blog in our series of Coworking Stories. Working in a coworking space is relatively new and carries new motivations, needs and collaborations along. We want to uncover how special, sustainable and valuable it is to work in a coworking space. We also want to investigate what the struggles are and what needs to be improved. In this second edition Dirk Scheele, entrepreneur and tenant of Het Industriegebouw in Rotterdam, explains why glass walls are crucial in the success of a coworking space.  

Dirk Scheele is owner of and and rents a pretty light workspace in Het Industriegebouw in Rotterdam. It is the second coworking space where he resides. 

“We are renting a workspace from the summer of 2015. Because we were the first tenants of this redesigned post war building, we were allowed to share our desires with the owner. And yes, he took our desires into account. One year later, this is still the way it works. When we have struggles with something concerning our workspace, the organisation immediately takes action to solve the problem. Working fast and taking care for the consent of the tenants characterizes the management of the coworking space.”

Glass walls make the difference
“The surplus value of renting in Het Industriegebouw is the transparency and interaction with the tenants. The glass walls are crucial in this. Because you see someone working, it is easier to drop by and start a conversation. This contributes to the community feeling. I feel a true chemistry among the various tenants. This is not something evident. The owners of Het Industriegebouw are selective and choose tenants that truly have an added value to the existing palette of tenants.


The struggle of renting in a coworking space
“The group of tenants becomes bigger and bigger. Thus, the contact sometimes dilutes and small clusters of tenants come into existence. Clusters of tenants who naturally find each other. The binding within a cluster is staunch, but it becomes more difficult to build up a relationship with other tenants. Following to that, my struggle is the shared maintenance of the facilities in the building. The group is too big to find out who did what and more important: who did not?! That frustrates me. Especially when it comes to the kitchen and garbage bags.

The growth to an ideal workspace
“A workspace must fit to what you want to emit. Most of the time, your workspace grows as your company grows. We fit perfectly in our workspace. The space is light, spacious and proper. I find it important that our space is representative, so we can proudly welcome our clients.”

Do’s: soapbox sessions & bottom-up events
“During a drink there must be the occasion to introduce yourself on a soapbox and pitch about your business. Due to this, there is an opening to start a conversation. A drink must not be too informal, because then, people will only talk to the other people of their small cluster.”

“In this coworking space, there is literally and figuratively room to organise events. We are free to initiate ideas and to unfold them into a real event. It is so nice that everyone thinks along and tries to assist. The events that are organised by tenants, strengthen the community more than anything else.”

Dirk I

Photo I & II: Titia Hahne Photography
Photo III: Kim Stolk

Coworking Story #1 – Design Thinking as a Principle of Coworking Space Kleinhandel

Every two weeks we publish a blog in our series of Coworking Stories. Working in a coworking space is relatively new and carries new motivations, needs and collaborations along. We want to uncover how special, sustainable and valuable it is to work in a coworking space. We also want to investigate what the struggles are and what needs to be improved . In this first edition, Sem Carree of Kleinhandel in Rotterdam explains us how they integrated Design Thinking in creating a coworking space.

It seems exceptional. Someone who has a background in Strategic Product Design, that currently is a concept creator of a coworking space, called Kleinhandel. Despite that, it is not as crazy as it sounds. The vision on which the prudence of Kleinhandel is based, originates from Design Thinking. The statement of Albert Einstein: “We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them” has a relation with Design Thinking and on the tact and vision of concept creators Sem Carree and Brendan Jansen op de Haar. What role does Design Thinking play in the development of the coworking space and the community that it carries?

Developing from the tenants point of view
“Kleinhandel came into being from an opportunity field,” says Carree. “Brendan and I had a company, housed in a coworking space that would be demolished. We saw an opportunity in developing a _MG_6306coworking space ourselves. We asked our associated tenants what their needs and desires were, in renting a work space. It appeared that a central location, fast internet and a professional appeal were tangible must haves. This is also Design Thinking. The human being takes center stage and you really develop from the needs and desires of the tenants. They (and we) outgrew the ad hoc location and were ready for a premium office concept.”

 Transparency, co-creation and progression
“We are transparent ever since the start. It is our value proposition on which our pricing and spaces are based. Next to it, we let future tenants participate in the concept design. Together we designed the floor plan of our first floor, which had an amount of 800 square meters. Because of this, their body of thoughts is intertwined in the concept of Kleinhandel. This contributes to their alliance with the office space and plays a fundamental role in sustainable rent. Beside it, we try to facilitate our tenants in the development of their business.”

                                                                                                                               Pain of the community: isles
“Kleinhandel grows well. In the meantime, the coworking space contains 6000 square meters. “What we see, is that little islands come into existence within the community,” says Sem. “It is our job to break through the isles, in order that the community stays the same. To do that, we simply located a table tennis table, to lead the tenants to the table to meet there. Our goal is to let every tenant contribute to the community, in a pleasant way.”

Kleinhandel x Design Thinking
“Thinking from the tenants, taking their needs and desires serious, designing the floor plan in co-creation. Design Thinking is truly intertwined in the DNA of Kleinhandel. This doesn’t mean that the letters Sem and Brendan are indissoluble committed to the concept. “Our goal is to share and develop the body of thoughts with the tenants,” says Carree. “And yes, this is also Design Thinking.”

Photos: Kleinhandel