Co-working in countryside gaining popularity

Hamburg News presents unusual co-working spaces for remote workers in the Hamburg Metropolitan Region
23 September 2020
Alsenhof Co-working

Co-working, co-living and co-creation spaces in the 21st century can range from huge lofts and converted farms to rural laboratories, which may yet prove harbingers of cultural change. During the corona-induced lockdown, many companies sent their employees home to work from offices there in a bid to contain the virus. Now, more and more employees are keen to retain this freedom and flexibility much to the delight of their employers. The Hamburg-based agency, Zum goldenen Hirschen, for instance, has abolished compulsory office attendance after four months of remote working. However, those working from home frequently lack social contacts and miss the exchange and networking afforded by offices. This is where co-working spaces can be an alternative and are gaining popularity among freelancers and founders based in big cities. But the attention is now turning to the buzzing countryside as more and more city dwellers rediscover its attractions in the wake of corona. Hamburg News presents five co-working spaces across the Hamburg Metropolitan Region.

Co-working Elmshorn
© Elecbronics GbR
Smart Factory Elmshorn

Big city flair in Pinneberg

Vartan Galsytan and Paul März grew up in the Pinneberg district and have set their sights on a common goal: "We want to help shape the working world in the region, which is already undergoing change. To this end, the duo set up the Smart Factory in Elmshorn, which is probably the first co-working space in Pinneberg. The XXL-Space in the Heinrich Hertz Industrial Park has been offering 145 co-workers around 1,500 square metres of space since July. Around 50 freelancers and remote workers work there presently. The native Elmshorners wish to bring a "cosmopolitan flair" including desks in an open-plan office, table football or glass office space to the region, said März. 

 

The high commuter rate in the Pinneberg district is pivotal: "Our idea is to offer SMEs in Hamburg and the surrounding region an opportunity to rent out a workstation for their employees in our co-working space." Meanwhile, the founders are working on their latest brainchild which is essentially a podcast studio. The first workshops and impulse lectures are due to be held soon.

Co-working in a historic farmhouse setting

New meets old in a 19th century cottage in Barsbüttel in the Stormarn region. Built in 1840, the so-called Rhubarb Cottage was refurbished by Beate and Klaus Maak, and has since been converted into an office. The attic has functioned as workstation for five people since 2019. The old stables in the historic farmhouse are now used as an event room for meetings with customers, workshops and family celebrations. 

"In the past, houses like the rhubarb cottage were places where the farmer lived in one area, worked in another and partied as well," said Beate Maak. Meanwhile, places like Willinghusen, a district of Barsbüttel, are purely for sleeping. "That's what we wanted to disrupt with the cottage and co-working space." The couple funded the conversion from EU subsidies for the Active Region Sieker-Land-Sachsenwald. The name of the co-working space goes back to Willinghusen's historic roots as a rhubarb-growing region.

Co-working, co-living and co-creation on a farm

Built in the 1930s, the Alsenhof in Lägerdorf in the district of Steinburg, was used as a farm until 1982, when the  house and its huge garden, stables and hayloft stood empty. In June 2020, the Alsenhof eG co-operative was founded to come up with answers to living, learning and working in future which is the essence of the Alsenhof Hof project. The Alsenhof, which is a listed building, is set to become a "laboratory for sustainable, innovative and open living and working environments".

This is based on the pillars of co-working, co-living and co-creation, said Heiko Kolz, one of the initiators. The plans for the appropriate ecosystem foresee creative retreats, events, catering facilities, open (learning) workshops and market places. The first 600 of approximately 2,000 square metres are now being prepared for co-working in the barn backed by Coworkland eG. This is where glass-fibre, internet, technology and modern furniture meet rural charm. 

 

Alsenhof's stables
© Manuel Dingemann
Alsenhof's co-working space in former stables

Space for free thinkers in Soltau - MS39

The MS39 co-working space in Heidekreis has been created under the auspices of the Coworkland Genossenschaft, which is network of people keen on setting up co-working spaces in rural areas. The initiative is backed among others by the German Ministry of Food and Agriculture. The MS39 office community has been located in downtown Soltau with views of the bustling Marktstraße since 2018. 

Founded by Jessica Brockmann, who helps companies turn their businesses digital, she previously worked in co-working spaces all over the world and hit on the idea for MS39 in her hometown of Soltau. Equipped with fixed and flexible workstations and an open meeting room, the office space caters to freethinkers as well as movers and shakers.

 

Co-working-space and Tisch café
© Elisa Witt
Co-working-space and Tisch café

Greater start-up culture in Schwerin

Co-working was everyday when Elisa Witte, a 31-year-old a freelance artist worked in Hamburg. But back in her hometown of Schwerin, Witte searched in vain for temporary jobs and an inspiring business network. Eventually, she set up the "Tisch" co-working space and café in July 2019, which has space for coffee tables, four desks and a regular’s table for business lunches, freelancers and for staging plays. 

Witte now hopes to "create and grow a start-up culture in a city - a place that is a workplace, event space and network simultaneously". From pop-up stores, entrepreneurship courses and start-up slams - the young entrepreneur has many ideas, but has done everything alone until now. Anyone interested in making Schwerin slightly more colourful is welcome to contact her, she winked. 

Frei.Raum.MV fighting empty spaces 

More and more creative people from big cities are bringing innovative ideas to the west of Mecklenburg-Pomerania and breathing new life into empty buildings and reviving many regions. The Kreative MV state network for cultural and creative industries is organising four creative labs in northwest Mecklenburg and Ludwigslust-Parchim from September under the slogan,"Vacancy was yesterday. Free spaces are the futures". Corinna Hesse, Board Member of Kreative MV, said: "We are in the starting blocks with the Frei.Raum.MV project. We want to revitalise vacant buildings in future-looking places with potential for development together with local authorities, creative industries and Coopolis GmbH, a planning office for co-operative urban development."
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