Here at Mindpark we are currently thinking quite a lot about how we can become an even better place. We have been around for 7 years now, since 2007, and we are rather confident that we are among the best co-working spaces out there. But we also think we can get even better – a lot better actually.

Therefor we recently made a trip to Berlin, where we visited multiple co-working spaces as well as other offices. It was a short but highly efficient trip. We where only in Berlin for two days, but we tried to visit as many different spaces as possible. However, the city probably has more co-working spaces then most big cities, so there where a lot of potential candidates to visit. We tried to get the most known and the newest on the list, as well as some rather peculiar places. We thought it could be interesting to make a post about where we where, and more importantly – insights we got and lessons learned. A quick study in what makes a co-working space good.

Our list: co-working space in Berlin we visited

The spaces and facilities we visited where:

  • Betahaus – Probably the best known co-working space in Berlin, it has been around for 5 years now.
  • Rainmaking loft / Startup Bootcamp Berlin – a new co-working space that has a partner in both London and Copenhagen.
  • Factory Berlin – one of the most talked about co-working spaces in Berlin, which has just recently opened and is still somewhat of a construction site. Factory will have some of the biggest startups in Berlin moving in (both SoundCloud and 6Wunderkinder) and it’s backed by Google, so it definitely will be one of the most important co-working spaces in the city in the future.
  • Ahoy! – a co-working space that focuses on offices and teamspaces, with only have a few open desks.
  • Agora / Impact Hub – a co-working space with a focus on designers and artist, as well as hosting the Impact Hub, which is a space focusing on social entrepreneurship companies.

In addition to the co-working spaces we also visited the Hasso-Plattner Institut’s facilities, to get inspiration about how they structure their team-spaces. We visited the San Francisco based startup Paymentwall, at their posh German office at Unter Den Linden – to see how a international venture backed startup office looks like. And we visited the makerspace Open Design City, located at Betahaus and the hackerspace C-base – a space that is really different and unique. It was very interesting to see at C-base the power of a strong ‘story’ and vision, and how that can shape a whole space and it’s community.

Insights from a lot of different co-working spaces

There were a number of interesting common facts that we could observe:

  • A great co-working space focuses on community, but with the right level of activity. You cannot force your tenants to be active in all of your activity’s. You have to encourage them in the right way, and respect they are busy running their own businesses.
  • How the space is planned makes a lot of differences – some spaces where large and required everyone to be quiet, other had high sounds levels, while further where rather dull with closed doors and little interaction.
  • The coffee area is the most important place in a co-working space. Followed by the lunch area (if that’s not the same) and the smoking area (for those having that).
  • Unlike here at Mindpark, offices and open desks are rarely mixed in the same space. Which we think is a shame, we see a lot of benefits with the mixed layout we have.
  • A lot of co-working spaces have practical problems such as handling keys, keeping shared spaces clean, or having the right amount of meeting rooms or telephone booths.
  • Co-working spaces are either community driven or corporate. Both have their advantages and disadvantages.

Lessons learned

We got interesting reflections on our own facilities and activities from the trip. Some of the things we realised we should strive to work with here at Mindpark are things like:

  • Gather the tenants more around activities that involve some kind of food, drinks or refreshments.
  • More community engagement in forming Mindpark – how we should evolve and what direction we should take in the future.
  • Continue to respect that our tenants are here to work and be productive. What we need to do should not interfere with them doing what they need to do. We already aim to be a mixture of creativity and productivity. This trip only reinforced that it’s the right way to go.
  • We should encourage our, although few, smokers to find one common spot outdoors, instead of our current 3 spots (one at each entrance more or less).

Overall a very interesting, even if very intensive, trip!