In February 2013 I started working for the Think Tank Internet & Gesellschaft Co:llaboratory, short CoLab. My field of activity was communication, primarily through social media and events. The position lasted 10 hours a week, and I was able to do it alongside my other gig jobs. The CoLab doesn’t exist anymore, but I’m still in contact with a lot of people from that time. It was a lovely time.
My interview took place in BASECAMP, a café and showroom now run by Telefónica in Berlin-Mitte. From there you could always work quite well, there was good food at lunchtime and often exciting events in the evening. The team around Karolin Quandt made sure that the BASECAMP was a very cool place. I haven’t been there for a long time, so this shouldn’t be taken as a comparison to today’s team.
It all started for me there.
So my job at CoLab started in a café where you could also work. The CoLab itself moved into kind of a coworking space in a garden house a few days after my employment. The house belongs to the Factory Berlin with which Google was somehow connected. Google sponsored the CoLab so that we could work from this Factory Berlin house. To be honest, I never quite understood the connection.
At that time, the Factory Berlin was a real estate project that wasn’t yet finished. They wanted to be a coworking space for the big tech companies. SoundCloud has his office there, Twitter and Uber were members there for a while. I have to say they never came
It was very quiet in that garden. On the first day, my colleagues and I were ripped from our flow by the bell ringing of the Sophienkirche. At that moment I realized how quiet it was there. Until then I had never noticed bells ringing in Berlin. From that moment on I could no longer concentrate. My colleague Sebastian Haselbeck then showed me the website Coffitivity and changed my life with the app.
house taugh me community.
The floors were u-shaped around the stairwell and had no hall. All rooms were connected. There were always three or four other teams sitting with us. One company was from the Netherlands and wanted to install charging stations for electric cars in shopping centers. Another startup did something with fitness. For a while, the organizing team of the crowdfunding festival One Spark also sat there.
I can’t remember all of them, but I can still remember the feeling of being always surrounded by other people and sitting in the same room with them. We talked to each other, sometimes ate something together and always exchanged information about our activities. The other people did things I didn’t know about, and I found that very exciting. I liked spending time at the CoLab in the garden house.
Who spends their free time at their place of work?
In the summer of 2013, I even invited my grandparents to the garden house on a Sunday. On the ground floor, there was a large kitchen. On Sundays, hardly anyone was there anyway. I fetched cake from a café in the street, and we ate it in the kitchen. I felt so comfortable there that I even spent my free time there. Such stories, I know from St. Oberholz in the meantime, are meaningful insights into new work.
In my professional life, I have rarely been able to feel the feeling of belonging. Either the working relationships were too superficial, or I was too far away from my colleagues. I now work in a team that I really love. But at that time the CoLab was my first experience of belonging. We barbecued in the garden or had a drink together, sometimes other teams came with us from the garden house.
At that time I didn’t think about coworking like most coworkers do. I just enjoyed the feeling of being in a community with other people. Looking back, I understand what I experienced. I didn’t feel lonely, I was inspired by other people. Colleagues became friends. And that’s what coworking is all about. I want to make these feelings possible for other people through community management.
All Images: Tobias Kremkau, Berlin 2013