Note: want to win a 1-month membership to The Hub? See below for details!
If you’re familiar with the business scene in Prague and use the LinkedIn or Facebook networking sites, you’ll have probably come across the word “jelly”, which in this case doesn’t mean the stuff that wobbles on a plate. This new term has emerged from a new method of working for freelancers, known as “coworking”, which is spreading in the Czech Republic.
Coworking originated in the USA around 2005, when freelance IT workers came together to share office spaces as an alternative to working from home or at the local café. Coworking spaces, which operate as business services, spread rapidly. Unlike shared offices, they emphasized community building.
The concept quickly went global, and has been developing in the Czech Republic over the last two years. As the name suggests, coworking means working together, and you’ll find a diverse range coworkers at a coworking space, from IT programmers to translators. When they pay to use a coworking space, they effectively become members of a club, with benefits such as language courses. Certain additional services, e.g. use of a conference room for meetings with clients, are charged extra.
Coworkers can work at a coworking space for 10 hours over a 30-day period, or use it on an unlimited monthly basis for six months or more. Membership rates vary, but generally, the longer the membership, the cheaper the cost in the long term, and if membership is paid up front, some coworking spaces offer discounts. In Prague, a monthly membership allowing unlimited use ranges from around 3000 to 4000 CZK.
Coworking spaces usually take the form a large open plan office, e.g. in a converted factory, or a series of smaller rooms, e.g. on the same floor of a building. All the relevant facilities that freelancers require, such as wi-fi, a photocopier or fax machine, in order to do their work, are provided. A coworking space will usually also have meeting rooms, giving freelancers the option to meet their clients or other freelancers.
In addition, a coworking space also offers other typical office facilities, e.g. a kitchen communal area where coworkers can sit and chat. In short, for freelancers, using a coworking space replicates of many of the positive aspects of employee life.
Coworkers are all independent of each other and so have no obligations to their fellow freelancers. At the same time, one of the most important positive aspects of coworking is that coworkers can meet other freelancers, thus avoiding the isolation of working from home, a separation merely reinforced by modern technology, which is paradoxically designed to make work easier. Coworking facilitates networking, and creates synergies, as people from different sectors work in the same space, bounce ideas off each other and discuss business partnerships. Working in a coworking space is also an opportunity to make new friends and socialize.
Coworking in the Czech Republic
Over the last two years, coworking has grown in the Czech Republic, in Prague and beyond. All coworking spaces in Prague offer the core services of individual workspaces and meeting rooms, and are open to any self-employed person. They attract a diverse range of members, including journalists, software developers, lawyers, career coaches and copywriters.
Dr. Will Bennis, owner of the Locus Workspace office (see below) points out a unique feature coworking in Prague: some spaces are working together on marketing and promoting the coworking idea. “Every two weeks, four of the Prague coworking spaces sponsor Jelly! events, which are rotated across venues so that independent workers who would like to work with others can get a taste of the different coworking options in Prague. These four spaces have agreed to allow members of the other spaces to use the four coworking spaces for up to 25% of their membership time, at no extra charge.”
In addition, some coworking spaces are also members of the worldwide coworking visa program. This means that coworkers who are members of spaces participating in the visa program can work at Czech coworking spaces that are program members.
Below are brief descriptions of the main coworking spaces in Prague:
The Hub is the largest of the coworking spaces in the Czech Republic and was founded in 2010 by entrepreneurs Petr Vítek, Jakub Mareš, Zdeněk Rudolský and Petr Baše. It’s part of the international network of Hub coworking spaces and is located near Anděl in Prague.
Converted from a former factory, The Hub offers a large open plan office, with 54 work stations and LAN & wi-fi internet access. The coworking space also has 3 meeting rooms, each with space for 10 to 20 people. The shared office attracts a cross section of the freelance community, mostly Czech, and there is an emphasis on events. “We are running series of events focused on ideas, future technologies and creativity, on a monthly basis,” says Roman Bojko, Idea Driver at the Hub. He adds that the coworking space also organizes smaller events.
Open: Monday - Friday 8:30 - 18:30, at weekends if events are being held.
Coffice is the first coworking space in the Czech Republic, opened in November 2009, and was set up by German businessman Paul Wehle. Coffice is on the first floor of a building close to I.P. Pavlova, Prague 2. The coworking space has 3 connected open plan rooms, with a total of 15 workspaces, a meeting room with projection facilities, wi-fi, and a full range of business facilities.
Open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week
Launched in Prague (with a sister office in Pardubice) in October 2011, Desk Room is the brainchild of former logistics manager Petr Načeradský, who wanted to try a new business venture.
Desk Room is housed in the attic floors of a historic building in the heart of the Lesser Quarter. It has 20 work stations with free wired and wireless internet connection, two conference rooms and projection & sound system facilities. Desk Room also has a kitchen and showers. Upstairs, there is a long, gallery-style lounge, with views of Prague Castle. Desk Room is currently building up membership and plays an active part in organizing Prague Jelly! events with other Prague coworking spaces.
Open: Monday - Friday 8:00 - 18:00
GREEN OFFICE PRAHA
Another recent addition to the Prague coworking scene, Green Office Praha was set up by sisters-in-law Helena and Irena Opolecká. They chose Opletalova, near Wenceslas Square, partly because it was easily accessible to commuters by car or train.
Green Office Praha is on the first floor of an office block, with parking in an underground garage. The coworking space has 3 rooms, with a total of 15-20 workspaces, and a meeting room. Green Office Praha offers high-speed wired internet connection and additional business services. It is actively involved in organizing Prague Jelly! events with other Prague coworking spaces.
Open: Monday - Friday 8:30 - 17:30
The Locus Workspace slogan is “Work Better.” Dr. Will Bennis, an American research psychologist based in Prague, is particularly interested in the psychological aspects of coworking and its effects on productivity, one of the main reasons prompting him to set open Locus Workspace, in May 2010.
You can find Locus Workspace on the third and fourth floors of a tenement building just 50 metres from Wenceslas Square. The coworking space has 30 workspaces and a meeting room, Wi-fi, and all other standard facilities. Locus Workspace puts particular emphasis on working together to build community, and the members are a mixture of Czechs and expats, from different backgrounds. Locus Workspace has a varied membership and is actively involved in organizing Prague Jelly! events with other Prague coworking spaces.
Open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week (members have own key)
Russian entrepreneur Sergii Kytsiuk had thought for a long time about setting up his own shared office after being a co-worker, and established Qwerty-spaces office space in October 2011. It’s the first Russian-oriented coworking space in Prague, although it's open to everyone.
Qwerty-Spaces is located on the 1st floor of a building close to Karlovo náměstí and has 14 workspaces, with wireless connections, and a meeting room. Although the name of the office may suggest an IT-oriented coworking space, Qwerty-Spaces is open to all. It’s currently building up membership and is actively involved in organizing Prague Jelly! events with other Prague shared offices.
Open: Monday - Friday, 8:00 - 20:00
Win: for a chance to win a free 1-month membership to The Hub, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org (include "The Hub competition" in header) with a brief description of yourself and the project you'd like to work on at the coworking space. Expats.cz, in cooperation with The Hub, will choose one lucky winner and notify them by Monday, January 23rd (hint: our preference is for projects that include a social element)!
And the winner is....Bryan from Bam Teams. Congrats Bryan!