#10 FAQs about coworking: A practical guide for Athens, Greece

“We have the talent. We just need to work together. Different environments need to overlap, connect, and interact in order to transform our culture. In order to create a sustainable community based on trust, we value”:

  •    collaboration over competition
  •    community over agendas
  •    participation over observation
  •    friendship over formality
  •    people over personalities
  •    value ecosystem over value chain

These are some lines straight out of the coworking manifesto published more than 10 years ago! Does coworking still sound relevant to you?

After two years into this world-changing pandemic, the answer is more than obvious. Remote working has become the norm while more and more professionals seek new ways of balancing work and life and living off their passions. Millennials and GenZers, who are always craving new experiences and travel around the globe, prefer working from different destinations instead of an unchangeable and set office. And one of those up-and-coming coworking pins on the map is the Greek capital, Athens!

We strongly believe in the idea of flexible workspaces and we love to see our community expanding, for that reason we thought it would be a great idea to present you with:

#10 FAQs about coworking in our beloved city of Athens!


1. What is coworking and who is a coworker?

Athens Coworking

Coworking is the new way of reaching your professional and personal goals! If you just need your laptop and good Wifi to work from anywhere, or if you just can’t stay in the same office (or city) on a long term basis then this is your ideal way of working! Coworking means working alongside together. Sharing a workspace with people who may possibly become your friends or fruitful networking contacts but are NOT necessarily your colleagues. Coworking means that it’s your choice to hang out with them today or focus entirely on your projects tomorrow by setting your limits. Coworking means neither one-way socialization nor professional solitude. 


2. What is a coworking space?

A coworking space is a place where you can have all that! Essentially, it’s a shared workspace that offers flexible options for all professionals. The layout may vary but usually, it incorporates co-working areas, private offices, and common areas in its premises: Coworking areas include an arrangement of hotdesks for members to work from, private offices for those who want their own closed space, and common areas like kitchens, terraces, and lobbies where all of the above share a cup of coffee together! Common areas are essential for socializing and every coworking space has its own meeting point! Moreover, coworking spaces include meeting rooms and/or call rooms. This way members can hold business meetings and communicate with their clients and partners from all over the world!

3. What kind of coworking spaces are there in Athens and where are they located? 

Athens has become a truly attractive destination for ex-pats, and at the same time, locals are seeking new working environments and are longing to socialize in the after-COVID19 era.  That is why many different types of coworking spaces have sprung up as well! You may find everything in the Greek capital and there are online search engines specifically for this, like coworker.com. You may find coworking franchises, international hub brands, and independent Greek businesses like Stone Soup! These workspaces are scattered all over Athens, from Marousi in the North to Exarcheia, and all the way to Peiraeus next to the port. 

4. Is the location of a coworking space important? 

You can imagine that even if we live in a digital world, coworking spaces are still physical, so location is important! Make sure that you pick the one that suits your everyday urban explorations! If you fancy the northern suburbs of Athens and their classy restaurants, parks, and calm ambiance, look for coworking spaces in Kifisia or Marousi. If you prefer to follow the urban vibes and stay in touch with everything that goes around in the contemporary Athenian scene then the center of the city is a must-be. The center of Athens has plenty of coworking spaces so if you are looking for a taverna in Psyrri, a bar in Exarchia, or a gallery in Koukaki then there are many coworking spaces to pick from. And lastly, it’s the Greek Riviera in the south where there are a couple of options as well! If you are driving then parking is important! Coworking personnel will be happy to share with you the best cost-effective options around their area but they usually do not include parking fees in their membership options.

5. What are my membership options when I want to join a coworking space in Athens?

In almost all spaces you will find a wide range of memberships to match your needs. There are packages starting from a few hours and daily passes to monthly plans and long-term agreements! Each coworking space in Athens usually has its own policy, but flexibility is one of the most important attributes! How much would you stay in your ideal workspace? No need to answer right now! Feel free to try whatever suits you and your timetable and you can always upgrade or downgrade later. Don’t hesitate to ask the community manager on the spot for the most convenient solution.


6. What is a coworking desk? 

A coworking desk is the main element of a coworking space: Ιn the coworking slang we call it either a “hot desk” or a “dedicated desk”. In the first case, there is a first come first served rule and coworkers pick a different desk each day depending on availability and on how early they arrive at the coworking space. In the second case, coworkers are assigned to a dedicated desk for exclusive use and it usually includes more office amenities, like a locker or other furniture, and you get all that with an upgraded membership.


7. What is a private office in a coworking space?

Except for the desks in the open areas of a coworking space, you may also find some closed areas that serve as private offices. If your project requires privacy, if you run a team or if you just prefer to work in solitude but you still want to have a cozy chat during lunch and coffee breaks then you should go for this option. Private office tenants usually have access to their offices 24/7 so they can drop by whenever they feel inspired to get back to work! It is also a great way to have your team gathered together in the same space without having to worry about long-term leases, commitments, and monthly utilities!

8. What is a meeting room?

Are you ready to have a creative brainstorming session with your team or partners? Is an important client coming and you are looking for a place to host your meeting? Do you have one of those long zoom calls and you want to feel comfortable in a professional setting? Those are reasons to book a meeting room! Some meeting room hours are usually included in a coworking membership or there might be an extra cost. If you are not a member and just want a meeting workspace for a day or more this can work for you too!

Coworking in Athens


9. Can I find professional equipment that I can use in a coworking space? 

Usually yes! It depends on what each space has to offer and what you need! Is it a monitor or a TV? An ethernet connection? A printer? Is it a 3D printer? Is it a copy machine or a scanner? Most workspaces offer monitors as a minimum since they are a must-have for a creative professional. These are either included in membership or you can rent them as an add-on at an extra cost. Advanced services like ethernet connection or phone lines are in most cases available on demand; their installation cost varies according to the agreement you have with each space. Never hesitate to ask for all those little things that will make you feel more comfortable and creative!

10. Can I bring my four-legged friend with me?

Most coworking spaces are inclusive of cats and dogs but they require a heads up before you decide to bring along your fluffy friend. Feel free to ask what a workspace’s policy is on that!

Do you have any more questions about coworking? Let us know!

Collaborative workspaces are here to stay and the new ways of working remotely that came up during the pandemic boosted their importance. Flexibility is awesome only if you are the one who’s choosing your desk and your community of coworkers! If you are in Athens, why don’t you check out the available coworking spaces and see which one will make your everyday life a little more extraordinary? 

Coworking empowers a lifestyle of diversity

Diversity is the product of community and collaboration blended together with openness. This is, after all, one of the key reasons people want to be part of a coworking environment. This allows them to diversify their vision and experience by collaborating with people from different backgrounds, interests, experiences, and thinking. By creating a community of experiences we try to bring together various perspectives and opinions of people who share a feeling of mutualism. 

Jelia

Jelia has always been looking for diverse experiences and new links. She has chosen Athens to be her new home and she recently joined our coworking community. Since it is one of our core values, we discussed why she is constantly seeking diversity both in her work but also in her lifestyle.

“We carry so many places within us and it’s through these places that we see everything new.”

Safe Passage Reunification

This is what it feels for Jelia when she travels to a new community and gets to meet new people. Coming from a diverse background herself, Jelia is originally from Senegal but she was born and raised in London. She is a lawyer at Doughty Street Chambers working remotely from Greece and she specializes in refugee law, human rights, and international criminal law. Working on a diverse range of issues in these areas, she provides legal assistance to unaccompanied child refugees seeking family reunification in Europe, and to victims of mass crimes seeking to access justice. Jelia joined Stone Soup in October and we had the chance to speak with her about her coworking experience in the diversity of Athens and the importance of inclusion in a community.

Travelling for diversity: Jelia’s background

Jelia studied Law and Spanish language at the University of Sheffield in the UK. She also studied in Barcelona for a year before pursuing a Master’s degree at UCL. After finishing her studies she worked abroad in different parts of the world from Argentina and Colombia to Cambodia. As a result, these travels truly enriched her vision of a world where diversity plays a core part. She first came to Greece in 2016, to work as a volunteer in the camp on Samos island. In 2018, she was able to come back to Greece for another volunteering stint, this time with Safe Passage. And that’s where her story with Athens begins.

Jelia at Stone Soup

Living in Athens: diversity seems familiar

Jelia has been living in Athens for two and a half years since then. For her, Athens is spatially diverse and is “becoming” culturally complex too. So, she loves the ecosystem of the center of the city because it is imperfect and not homogenous. Moreover, she enjoys the diversity of the urban small streets, the micro-neighborhoods, and the variety of independent coffee shops and small businesses. She also likes to cycle and walk in the area of “petroukaki”, which is the name she gave to the Petralona and Koukaki areas! In general, she highlighted the feelings of familiarity this imperfect environment creates in her. It reminds her of all the different cities she has lived in, like Buenos Aires. Driving in Greece is terrible like in Senegal too, she adds! Jelia notes that living in Athens has deepened her work because she is more directly exposed to migration. As a result, she can better understand the needs of the community she is trying to help.

Coworking in Athens: diversity in the workspace community

Jelia at Stone Soup

The choice of coworking in the diversity of Athens has offered her more work-life balance than London, she admits. The city doesn’t stress her out and meets her needs while she is trying to integrate. She decided to join a coworking space because she felt isolated and stressed working from home during the lockdown. She picked Stone Soup because the privacy she can have makes her feel settled. Now she laughs when she gets home and only has to say “Hi, flat!”. As a self-employed professional she needs both privacy and proximity to an everyday community. Her work and traveling experience add to her words about the elements she looks for in a workplace: “People always bring diversity and complexity and that enriches a community”. So, for Jelia, the coworking community should be a respectful place where people can express themselves without fear in these crazy times. She also works as a human rights consultant for the United Nations and NGOs. Her part-time work for the NGO All Survivors Project, which focuses on male survivors of sexual violence in war zones (gay, trans, non-binary), highlights the need for a safe space for everyone who challenges the norms.

Coworking for diversity in Stone Soup

The Stone Soup philosophy and Jelia’s work experience are based on the pursuit for inclusion and the expression of diversity. Here, Jelia adds, you can choose your friends because there are no office politics among the coworkers. Here, she gets to learn about tech and algorithms from Paulin and meet people who can be friends and not colleagues. She misses many things from pre-pandemic Athens though. But there is one thing she can’t wait to have once again: live concerts and drinks on the roof!

Jelia wears a mask

Why flexible workspace will emerge stronger from COVID-19

Stone Soup is taking part in the discussions about the future of coworking and has frequent conversations with coworking operators and community managers from around the world. It is a collective effort to tackle the best way we can the current crisis and emerge stronger. The fight we are up against needs a united front. 

The change will obviously happen

While things are slowly getting back to (the new) normal, one thing is for sure: Coworking as we know it will have to change to survive. Coworking spaces are known for their communal areas and shared amenities. However, keeping a coworking space safe in a post-coronavirus world will probably lead to more dividers for personal space and private offices. 

Despite this tangible setback, industry professionals believe that in the long run, the coronavirus outbreak will not hamper appetites for “real-estate-as-a-service” models. In contrast, the belief is that the recovery from the crisis could serve to drive up demand for flexible office space.

Local or Global: Who has better chances to survive?

Each country has what we call a Local Champion: a homegrown player which competes with the international incumbents in each country. The local players are in a better position to handle local inquiries and manage their financial stability according to CEO of FlySpaces, Mario Berta.

Can we foresee the future using industry data?

The future of coworking

The answer is no, unfortunately.  Most economic forecasts, for the most part, are just guessing.

The problem is, there is very little data to go on. That’s because we are experiencing a black swan event. The term was popularised by author Nassim Nicholas Taleb in his 2007 book, The Black Swan: “The Impact of the Highly Improbable”. It talks about very low probability events that have an extremely high impact if they occur, like the CoronaVirus. So basically we’re in uncharted waters. There is no historical data to make forecasts, as we haven’t experienced anything like this. There are too many unknowns.

Exploring new behaviors

What we can do to draw some conclusions is to observe and understand 4 emerging behaviors of companies and individuals.

  • Companies are investing in remote work infrastructure and learning how to do it. Remote work is an example of a trend that has been amplified by the CoronaVirus crisis. The growth of remote work is teaching companies that it’s easier to integrate independent workers into their teams.
  • Companies will increasingly take advantage of the flexible terms of a coworking space rather than taking on long-term leases. The need for flexible terms will continue, perhaps even more rapidly. If anything, this crisis highlights why flexibility is valuable for companies.
  • These behaviors are also happening on a personal level, as people have been seeking to reduce commitments and ownerships. There has also been a steady rise in independent work, with more freelancers and independent contractors.
  • Similar to the “first time online shoppers” via e-commerce platforms, the crisis will generate a new number of tenants that will experience flexible office space and its benefits for the first time. Those tenants will most likely prefer flexible spaces over their permanent office in the future.

The pandemic is amplifying these trends and making them more powerful than they were before. The good news is that all of these trends – the reduction in long term commitments, the rise of independent work, and the desire for more flexibility and agility – will eventually push more people into a flexible workspace.

#3 reasons why flexible workspace should emerge stronger

 

Reason No. 1: The Need for Flexible Leases 

Once the lockdown period ends, companies will lay more emphasis on cost optimization. Especially if the recovery is slow and halting, companies will probably look for options that will allow them to easily exit if they are forced to send employees home once more.

They will be seeking alternatives to traditional long-term office leases and there is an undeniable market demand for flexibility and enhanced tenant experience, which we expect to continue beyond the near-term negative economic impact of COVID-19.

flexible office lease

Reason No. 2: Remote Workers Have to Work Somewhere

Many people are now just becoming comfortable with remote work for the first time and figuring out ways to make it efficient. That could mean more employees and employers become comfortable with it. But that doesn’t mean all those remote workers will work at home forever. After a couple of months of lockdown and working from a home environment – with distractions, not enough usable workspace, or reliable Internet access – our guess is that people will be eager to work from somewhere else.

Shared workspaces, nearer to a home location, may actually be the ideal solution for many in the future months. They will give workers a flexible workspace to work and have the essential social contact lockdown has robbed from so many, yet affording non-crowded, quiet and easy to use facilities.

Reason No. 3: Community is Key to Recovery

Entrepreneurs, business owners, and workers will need social networks and local connections more than ever to regain their footing. Community strength will be essential in helping people reconnect, build new networks, and support each other.

Coworking was an idea that was founded on community, however, it had become an industry driven by real estate. A race to monopolize the industry created workspaces that required ‘as many bums on seats as possible’. Community became an afterthought. Stone Soup was created in order to bring community back to coworking. Employing generous workspace and large, flexible work areas to encourage a sense of calm. We believe that human beings should work side-by-side, not on top of one another.

 

Protective measures for a safe coworking space

Our coworking life and our safety at work were disrupted about a month ago. Since then we started working from home and avoiding social interactions to protect ourselves. Is it too soon to start thinking about the end of this social distancing experiment and imagine that our lives are going back to normal?

I guess one thing we all realised is that physical distancing really sucks! And that we take our social life for granted.

End of April we will start operating again and we want to make sure that our coworking space will be safe for all of you. We plan to be at the space 2-3 days a week for a few hours to manage member requests, play music and brew some coffee for you!

Coworking with safety at Stone Soup

We are in a fortunate situation compared to other busier coworking spaces and office environments. The number of people who use our space at any given time is usually quite low compared to the size of our workspace. That makes it possible to implement social distancing within our work environment.

However, for extra safety, we will not allow member drop-ins. We will also rearrange some of Stone Soup spaces to enable distancing ourselves (meeting rooms, kitchen)  and we have installed additional disinfectants for members to use. 

Some new rules will apply to make our workspace a safe environment to work at. Can we change alone or do we need the help of our members?

We are all in this together: let’s maintain the space clean

Coworking protective measures

Help us keep our community safe and protected by implementing physical distancing measures and enhanced hygiene practices! We would also like to draw your attention to areas of high traffic, where lots of people engage with the same items and surfaces. Let’s be aware and protect ourselves from those areas! 

  • Door handles: They are one of the most touched spots in the office. Use some tissue, your elbows or your hand within a sleeve to open the door. Before getting back to work, use anti-bacterial gel – especially if you’re about to eat.
  • Desks: Use one desk and don’t swipe seats in the coworking space. Please don’t share desk equipment and clean your phone, pens and your bag at least once per day.
  • Toilets: Always wash your hands after using the toilet and try not to touch the faucet or door handle on your way out.
  • Meeting rooms: We will reserve the meeting rooms for single-person use for virtual meetings, phone calls etc. We will charge no additional fees.


We will focus on providing a safe environment for our members and we hope that we will see you all coming back in the next weeks! If for some reason you think that continuing working from home suits you best don’t worry!  Our COVID-19 mission is alive:  to ensure that all our members can remain connected to their community, no matter the distance. We will continue the Virtual Coworking and you will still be able to interact with our members!

Safety rules for the protection of our coworking space


Here is a list summing up all our protective measures for how to maintain the coworking space safe and clean.

  1. Keeping enough space between you and other people

    If you can reach out and touch someone from your workstation, then your office isn’t set up for physical distancing.

  2. Spray and wipe down your workspace before and after you use it.

    Please use one desk and don’t swipe seats in the coworking space. Don’t share desk equipment and clean your phone, pens and your bag at least once per day.

  3. Promote fresh airflow throughout the office

    Open the windows and doors for at least 15mins, several times a day.

  4. Consider taking all meetings online.

    We will reserve the meeting rooms for single-person use for virtual meetings, phone calls etc. We will charge no additional fees.

  5. Rearrange your private office plan.

    Separate desks and give each member of your team their private space. 

  6. As you work, make sure you regularly wash your hands.

    Door handles are one of the most touched spots in the office. Use some tissue, your elbows or your hand within a sleeve to open the door. Before getting back to work, use anti-bacterial gel – especially if you’re about to eat.

  7. Limited use of the kitchen.

    Minimize the use of the fridge. Use disposable cutlery and keep your own office mug which you will clean at the end of the day.