Holing up in a cafe on a cold winter’s day while cradling a single mug of coffee for four hours is still, for some, the picture that’s painted of remote workers. But by now, co-working has become the norm.
In fact, in 2017 alone, more than one million people used co-working spacesand discovered that these designated hotspots provide more than just a desk and a fast internet connection.
The experience actually goes much deeper than that, providing members with the chance to network, meet other small business owners and entrepreneurs, and form new partnerships – something you’d struggle to do working from a different cafe every day (especially when you consider that the number one struggle for remote workers is loneliness).
Brussels has its fair share of co-working spaces throughout the city, ranging from corporate-style fully serviced offices right through to hipster hangouts and artsy cafes. If you want a change of scenery, check out some of the places you can type away for the day.
What is Co-working?
First things first, what constitutes a co-working space?
At the very basic level, it’s a building or room where multiple workers who are not from the same company come together on an as and when basis. They are fully stocked with desks, internet, and kitchen facilities, with many of them hosting networking events, workshops, and other activities geared towards professional development.
The reasons remote workers choose to work away from home varies considerably, with many citing the sociable atmosphere as a huge pull, while others crave the sense of community a shared workspace offers.
In an article last year, Emergent Research highlighted that co-working has become such an attractive concept because it fights back against the traditional (and, let’s face it, often dull) views of the traditional office.
The movement has now taken hold and has expanded more than anyone could have predicted, creating a whole new industry that has completely changed the way people work.
The Different Kinds of Co-working Spaces
1. Traditional Serviced Facilities
When the internet burst onto the scene and companies started to offer their employees some slack when it came to working from home, co-working spaces seemed to pop up everywhere. This idea of a flexible, serviced office space was a breath of fresh air after almost a century cubicle (or almost-cubicle) working.
Marx Dixon was one of the forerunners of the movement, creating serviced office provider Regus after discovering travelling workers needed more flexible office options when visiting different cities.
Regus has become a huge hit in Brussels, where workers can book a seat in a fully-serviced office on a daily basis. They still have a semi-corporate vibe while providing workers with more flexible hours and working conditions. You can book a co-working space through Regus from €6.30 a day.
Silversquare is similar.
Also a fully-equipped office solution, remote workers can rent out shared and private spaces, as well as enjoy the benefits of having a meeting room for up to 100 attendees. You can become a Silversquare member from €295 per month.
In the same column, you have Multiburo, which provides perhaps the most corporate experience of all of these. Based on a the concept of a business centre, most Multiburo co-working spaces are located near parliament buildings or official headquarters. Co-working at Multiburo starts from €155 per month for 10 days.
2. Hybrid Workspaces
For less corporate co-working, there are plenty of “hybrid” spaces to choose from – that is, spaces that are comprised of offices, boardrooms, meeting spaces, and spots for coworkers to rock up and set down their laptops.
These spaces bring together the traditional format of an office with a sprinkling of new-age co-working features – because why fix what isn’t broke? In her theses, Understanding co-working: Between typology and contradiction, Silvia Ivaldi writes that co-working spaces are based on the old model of serviced offices because that model has worked for almost half a century.
Bluepoint is an example of this. Though it’s predominantly a business centre used for meetings and events, it also leases offices and workplaces on a short- and long-term basis. On top of that, there are a number of coworker “hot desks” that people can book as and when they need them. You can reach out to Bluepoint to find out how much it costs to use their co-working space.
Likewise, L42 boasts a mixture of well-equipped offices for small teams, boardrooms, and meeting spaces, as well as shared working areas that coworkers can prop themselves up in. Contact L42 to get more information on prices.
3. A Hipper Kind of Hangout
If the co-working cafe culture is still an attractive option for you, why not try one of Brussels’ coffee shops that also masquerade as co-working spaces?
With this option, you no longer have to worry about outstaying your welcome and you still have the chance to meet other professionals over a warm brew.
In fact, there are studies that show there can be huge benefits from working in a cafe – from a general change of scenery to the often buzzing and social atmosphere. For those that can’t stand the silence of their own thoughts, cafes are a great alternative. So much so, that there’s even an app now that mimics the hubbub of a cafe to help you focus.
Jat Cafe is a firm favourite amongst coworkers, and you’ll often find a slew of other people tapping away on their keyboards in all four corners of this hangout. There are plenty of other coffee shops that open their arms to remote workers, it’s just a case of hunting them down and finding the best one for you. Obviously, it’s free to work in Jat Cafe, but you’ll need to buy a drink or two during your stay.
4. Something a Bit Different
If you’re done with cafe culture and want something a little quirkier than your average co-working space, Brussels is home to a number of “alternative” places to work.
In the heart of historical Brussels, Les Galleries is set inside a beautiful gallery space that has regular exhibitions and shows from local and international artists. The focus here is on women entrepreneurship and there are plenty of opportunities for creative collaborations through events, seminars, and workshops. Membership at Les Galleries starts at €150 per month.
Then there’s The Library, which is arguably one of the more stylish co-working spots in the city. Scattered throughout Brussels in four renovated homes, these co-working spaces bridge the gap between working from home and working in an office. With access to gardens, private terraces, comfy living rooms, and fully-equipped kitchens, you can almost pretend The Library is your home while you’re working away. Membership to all locations of the Library start at €250 per month.
For something entirely different altogether – and to wedge yourself firmly in the corporate world while away from home – ShareDesk is a good option. It’s essentially a marketplace for people who are looking to cowork somewhere in the city. But, instead of offering designated co-working spaces that were intentionally made for this purpose, they work by renting out dedicated desks in pre-existing offices.
Co-working Has Completely Changed How We Work
With the incredible rise of remote workers, co-working spaces are creating a new professional landscape that breeds creativity, collaboration, and growth for entrepreneurs and even the smallest of businesses.
Remote workers in Brussels are spoilt for choice when it comes to choosing a desk for the day. From hipster cafes overflowing with caffeinated goods to corporate offices that boast 100-seat meeting rooms, there’s a space for everyone and every occasion.