Addicted to Coworking Spaces

I originally wrote this blog internally for my company, but the more Adam and I talk to friends and family about the co-working spaces we discover, the more we realize it’s not only interesting and applicable to yes, people working remotely, but also to anyone who wants to get some uninterrupted work done in a motivating space.

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Eclectic Fabrika in Tbilisi, Georgia

Okay, so imagine you need to get work done, but don’t have to sit in your office (or wherever you typically work) to do it.

What dream space would you magically transport yourself to for the day?

  • Would it be inside or outside? Domestic or International?
  • Would there be good coffee on demand or a pool to soak your feet in as you tooks calls?
  • Would you work lounging in a hammock or comfortably in a personal office with a dog laying at your feet?
  • Would you take a 45-minute break to do some yoga because it was available?
  • Would you work barefoot all day or take a 15-minute power nap in a designated nap room?

Welcome to the world of ever-evolving co-working spaces, where there is quite literally a thoughtfully designed environment for every work style.

I’m not exactly sure when co-working took off and metamorphosized into awesome, functional and inspiring spaces around the globe, but it’s been pretty exciting to watch and experience firsthand.

Forbes seems to think it’s been in the last five years that “the concept has taken hold across industries. Co-working today is booming as a new generation of entrepreneurs, consultants, freelancers, and corporate organizations re-think the overhead costs of business and the value of collaborative work.” For those that may not be as familiar, here’s a rundown of the basics of a (good) co-working space.

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Adam enjoying bourbon in our Barcelona coworking space – Coco Coffice (AFTER the day’s work)
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Co-working in Vietnam – The Hive Saigon!

At a minimum, a co-working space should offer a place to work for various individuals with fast, reliable internet and both open and private areas to work.

Beyond that, the sky’s the limit. Leather couches and Packman? Sure. Fitness classes and a barista? Great! Smoothie bowls and a punching bag? Why not?

These days, it seems that co-working spaces have started to adopt a live, work, play attitude, shattering the boring mold of what an office “should be” and foster an engaging, creative hub fulfilling wants and needs far beyond a space to work. Don’t get me wrong, coffee shops are great to hammer out an hour or two of work, but co-working spaces are ideal for comfort and longer worktimes as they are secure so you can leave your belonging as you trot out for lunch, and most are open 24 hours accommodating any schedule.

One of our favorite co-working spaces on our travels is Biliq Bali, located in Bali, Indonesia. At Biliq, coworkers are surrounded with beautiful murals of greenery, a central pool with workstands for dipping your feet in while working, a calendar featuring a slew of creative workshops available, as well as two office pups running around making everyone smile. Biliq is a co-working space that goes above and beyond just a space to work, although provides that as well. They very authentically showcase their values of work/play balance as well as health and wellness.

Co-working environments form micro-communities where a spectrum of people can not only work to their own pace and comfort level but cross-pollinate ideas with new people outside their network, industry and age group (if they want to). For example, in Porto Portugal at Porto i/o, digital nomad mixers are regularly held for those working in the office, which constantly changes, to get to know one other on a personal level knitting the office community together, giving travelers or expats a sense of belonging within an unfamiliar city. More often than not, there is a tangible eagerness for community for those that join co-working spaces, as they could always work from home or a hipster coffee shop in solitude. As great as flexible schedules can be, sometimes we all just crave a little socialization and routine!

I hear you asking, so who is meant to work in co-working spaces anyways? Entrepreneurs and location independent graphic designers and coders? Well yes; however, coworking spaces are meant for just about anyone as they are intended to be spaces that facilitate efficient, independent work. Even if you have a great office, try popping in a co-working space on the weekend to do some personal planning or reading. It is a great change of scenery and opens you up to a unique group of people and a new environment that you might never normally encounter.

As many of the jobs in our world and various industries continue to become more location independent, coworking spaces serve as vital touchdown spaces that ground people back into a community while still providing the freedom to work in whichever way is best for an individual.

Over these 6 months, we have grown to depend and really love coworking spaces. We’ve met some incredible friends, drank an obscene amount of coffee, got a LOT of work done, and had space in every city that started to feel like home. Go check one out!

Coworking spaces we’ve been to (and growing): Porto – i/o Porto, Barcelona – Coco Coffice, Granada – Errant, Lyon – Mama Works, Georgia – Vere Loft, Bali – Biliq, Ho Chi Minh – The Hive Saigon

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Awesome stairwell graphics at Mama Works in Lyon, France

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Steps outside Fabrika’s coworking space

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Porto, Portugal: Our Highlight Reel

The phrase “time flies when you’re having fun” exists for a reason. Our time in Portugal flew by so fast that I am just now sitting here in Barcelona writing and reminiscing about how magical Porto was. We had 23 days total in Portugal and finally found a much need ‘groove’ after bouncing around so much in South Africa. Let it be known that it is harder than anticipated to balance exploring a new city, working, sticking to a budget, exercise… oh and blogging.

We had decided on Porto as a home base after a lot of research that positioned it as a blue-collar city where the people are friendly, hard working and very proud of their city. A city with more grit than its shinier cousin, Lisbon, with an up and coming food scene that rivals it. Our AirBnB was actually across the river from Porto in a charming fishing village called Villa Nova de Gaia. We chose Gaia for a few reasons: a little cheaper, some of the best fresh seafood in Porto, and it was on the marina with great sunset views. Technically we were in Gaia’s quaint neighborhood of Afurada which was the kind of place where it was clear everyone knew everyone and there was a tangible pride and local culture. Since I somehow don’t have a picture,  close your eyes and imagine:

…small narrow stone streets lined with modest yet beautifully tiled buildings, family run cafes every few feet, sweet grandmas with calf length skirts, tall wool socks and slippers ironing on the sidewalk, FC Porto flags and scarves hanging from the windows, stray cats sunbathing and lurking at every corner, kids playing and riding their bikes, old men smoking and yelling at the fútbol game on tv, drying laundry ruffling on the balconies bringing a clean scent to the air, and fresh fish continuously grilling on every corner.

Okay now open your eyes. Wasn’t it beautiful?

Let’s dive right into our highlight reel. Here are our favorite moments from our time in Portugal, in no particular order.

  • Renting bikes for 3 weeks for $200 euro total. This not only made our commute much faster and cheaper but was passive exercise and allowed us to experience the city on a street level. Oh and the view along the boardwalk…. sigh
  • Adam’s co-working space Porto i/o. Super friendly community, a stellar view, affordable, and good coffee.
  • Adam’s fun and cheap lunches with co-workers
  • Shopping at the neighborhood market than having a sunset picnic of cured meat, fresh bread, passion fruit, local cheese, and local wine. Oh and then a cute dog joined.
  • Finding our way to Cervejaria Gazela, a local spot Anthony Bourdain visited on his trip to Porto. The food: cachorrinhos (cheese, hotdog-like meat, special sauce, and bread all panini’ed pressed to perfection. The drink: cold, ‘pressured’ (on tap) Superbock. We also met a friend here, Pedro, that I’m sure helped us because we looked lost. Pedro ordered for us, found us seats and promised to take us to explore “real” Porto… see #13
  • A traditional Fado three-course dinner arranged by our AirBnB host. Fado happens during dinner when someone powerfully signs a stream of melancholy songs with a small group of musicians.
  • Biking home from Matosinhos and discovering a truly perfect outdoor Hawaiian themed restaurant with lounge chairs on a platform right off the sand, with a view of the ocean and a bottle of vinho verde for $9 euro (young sparkling white wine). We had two and smuggled ½ of the second home 🙂
  • A day cruise up the Douro River and train ride back
  • A visit and tasting to the port winery Real Companhia Velha. We paid more for the tour and tasting than we typically would have, but it was well worth it with a private tour of the cellars, bonus tastings from our guide and a delicious cheese, olive, and nut board. We LOVED this.
  • A weekend trip to Lisbon where we rented a car and drove down the coast
  • Stopping in Nazare on the way to Lisbon to video my stepdad Art from the biggest wave in the world. The surf was choppy and kind of flat this particular day but still very cool and a perfectly cute town (so cute we stopped on our way back to Porto for lunch)
  • A day trip to Braga with friends from the co-working space. One friend drove us all to this **MAGICAL** area by the river with volleyball courts, a bar, architectural relics, a beautiful bridge, and people enjoying every bit of it. This might have been one of our favorite days.
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    Braga’s magical area by the river

  • Going out on the town with our friend Pedro and his buddy. They took us to an area with no tourists and we had a ball of a time until about 3am when we just got too tired for any more fun : )
  • Watching a huge street racing event, cars were getting major air and the crowd (the entire city) was going wild
  • Eating at Ramiro in Lisbon. We were (literally) crushing crab with hammers and eating WAY too much because it was. that. good. The entertainment of the servers reaching in a tank for lobsters was quite a sight too.
  • Going to the Palace of Sintra and walking all around the city. We had some marvellous tapas and sangria at Tascantinga and got our vertical steps in for the day.
  • Eating at Casa Guedes: where we randomly discovered while waiting for an uber what we believe to be the best pernil sandwich in all of Porto. Freshly carved marinated pork, local sheep’s cheese, wheat bun and a guy slapping them together barehanded and focused. About as local as it gets
  • Adam’s euro haircut and fresh shave at Barbas Shop.
  • Dancing the night away with Dutch friends we met in Lisbon
  • Spending Adam’s 34th birthday in Porto! Pre-dinner cocktails sponsored by Matt and Julie Yung and a delicious dinner at Ar de Rio.
  • Working at my comfy coffee shop for the bulk of my work days, 7groasters
  • Traditional Portuguese food: fresh fish always grilled right outside, potatoes, onion + tomato + olive + lettuce salad, rice, a bottle of wine. Our favorite was right by our AirBnb called Armazem do Peixe.
  • Pastel de nata! Heavenly Portuguese pastry
  • Early morning sand volleyball workout and espressos on the beach
  • Riding the boat taxi for $2 euro, $3 with your bike