Is co-working the latest fashion in the collaborative economy? Just something for geeks and start-ups? Why don’t you decide? While it’s true that this approach appeals to footloose workers and other teleworking fans, it also reflects a trend in the world of companies. Namely the steady abandonment of individual workplaces in favour of flexible office systems or even dropping permanent offices altogether. It’s a reality that is encouraging many workers to look for places they can hook up their laptops. The range of possibilities in Brussels is developing fast. Here are a few tips to help you find them.
What is co-working exactly?
This new way of working actually brings together two ideas: using a shared workspace and creating a ‘natural’ network of floating workers keen to swap ideas or even to co-create together. Or simply to break the monotony of teleworking.
This makes it hard to pigeonhole co-working or to categorise these workplaces precisely. Each location has been thought up to meet all sorts of needs and tastes, from the most luxurious to the most original or quirky. Co-working spaces can reflect a simple desire for company – a café, a Wi-Fi connection and a relaxed work atmosphere – just as much as more demanding needs – sophisticated offices, meeting rooms, printers, catering, entertainment area, etc.
How much does co-working cost?
Here too, everything depends on the level of requirements.
Most shared offices are available for rent at a set price that varies according to the amount of time: half a day, a day, several days a month, a month at a time, or even access 24/7. Spaces like this can therefore be used on a totally ad hoc basis (at a cost of about 25 euros a day) or regularly (from around 160 euros a month, with an average price of 295 euros a month). It goes without saying that all sorts of services and options, such as catering and secretarial services, are available as an option. In most cases, moreover, you will be charged an annual fee to access the location.
In the case of co-working cafés, this can vary from a charge per minute to a fixed price (generally including getting connected, coffee/tea/snacks) or the simple requirement to buy a drink.
Where can you co-work in Brussels?
If you’re looking for occasional office space – to be able to work while travelling, for instance, or to launch your start-up – there is plenty of choice in Brussels. We’ve put together several addresses here that will meet all tastes and needs. From the most functional to the most sociable, the simplest to the most elaborate.
SmartWork Loi and Monnaie: functional offices available for sharing in a friendly atmosphere, with a kitchen for preparing meals and even a rest area and a shower. Slight preference for Place de la Monnaie. Charges are around the average: 25 euros a day and 295 euros per month.
Les Galeries: not everyone can say they have an office (and their professional address) in the prestigious setting of the Galeries Royales Saint-Hubert, a stone’s throw from the Grand-Place. But you can, if you choose one of the luxurious co-working spaces offered by this address. Networking quality is high, and the prices are barely above average (30 euros a day and 300 euros per month).
The Loft: everything you need to work in a community spirit, spread across five addresses that are both functional and pleasant (Louise, Congrès, Schuman, Parc Royal, Montgomery). Lots of fee structures are available and the monthly price is bang on the average.
Co-working and start-up
SilverSquare: three prestige addresses on Place Stéphanie, Avenue Louise, near the entrance to the Bois de la Cambre, and in the European Quarter. Elegant decoration and architecture, designer interior, numerous services, and more besides. First choice addresses for co-working in Brussels. With a little extra: integrated start-up incubators to help you launch your business. Prices around the average.
Hive 5: a stylish spot near Cinquantenaire, designed in a zen spirit to encourage the exchange of ideas and communal working. Ideal for testing out a new concept or benefiting from good advice on launching your start-up. Prices around the average.
Factory Forty: this cosy address, located in an industrial complex in the Forest district (the former Olivier Strelli workshops), primarily serves creatives of all kinds in a happy, family-style atmosphere. Natural light is favoured throughout the development (except in the rest area) and stimulation is the watchword. You even get chickens and eggs! Attractive prices starting at 210 euros per month.
Here are a few more useful addresses:
Co-working like at home (or better)
Bon Jour Bruxelles: pure friendliness! You meet (primarily creatives) at this charming house in Ixelles around a shared table. You also benefit from all sorts of activities organised by the lady of the house to help you swap ideas and expand your network. As the cherry on the tart, the prices are very reasonable too.
The Library Ixelles: a luxurious, tastefully decorated house, located near the lakes in Ixelles. Everything is organised so you can work in a cosy atmosphere and feel perfectly at home. The same organisation has other addresses in the European Quarter, at Square Ambiorix and Avenue de Broqueville. Luxury, tranquillity and comfort. Co-working from 245 euros per month.
The Mug Brussels: the name says it all! Share great coffee at this Brussels house with a warm atmosphere and four welcoming storeys. The location is both friendly and vibrant. It is also one of the least expensive in Brussels: 160 euros per month for unlimited access.
Co-working and lunch
Le Phare du Kanaal: an absolute favourite! This delightful spot by the canal, near Place de l’Yzer, combines a friendly organic restaurant on the ground floor with one of the most convivial co-working spaces around upstairs. Hanna, a Frenchwoman who has settled in Brussels, is the perfect hostess. The atmosphere is relaxed, and at lunchtime you simply have to go downstairs to eat healthily.
A Wi-Fi connection is all it takes sometimes to turn these locations into co-working cafés. Above all, though, it’s the customers who make the place. Here are a few addresses that caught our eye:
|Parlor Coffee||Chée de Charleroi 203||Saint-Gilles||co-working café|
|Poz café||Rue Defacqz 92||Saint-Gilles||co-working café|
|Cup 28°||Rue du Bailli 34||Brussels||co-working café|
|Workshop Café||Avenue Louise 146||Ixelles||co-working café|
|Luka||Chaussée d'Ixelles 260||Ixelles||co-working café|
|Parade||Rue de Savoie 59||Saint-Gilles||literary café|
|Jat||Rue de Namur 28||Brussels||co-working café/lunch|
|The Office (creative coffee & salad)||Rue d'Arlon 80||Brussels||co-working café/lunch|
|Karsmakers||Rue de Trèves 20||Ixelles||café/lunch-coworking|
|Hinterland||Chaussée de Charleroi 179||Saint-Gilles||co-working café/lunch|
Like to know more about co-working in Brussels?
A young marketing type working at Topos (Tibor Olar-Farkas – The Loft) had the bright idea of creating a map showing all the co-working sites in Brussels.
We’d also like to mention Work Hard Anywhere app, which you can use to locate nearby co-working sites, as well as Wiffee, a website that finds cafés with Wi-Fi connection.
The success of this rapidly growing type of working has also prompted a variety of initiatives to bring the supply of co-working options together. Examples include two recent start-ups, SpareSpace and Wooo.