The first kid-friendly coworking space in Frankfurt am Main
Free and creative with the whole family? This will be possible in Frankfurt, starting in 2017. The first coworking space providing child care will be opening its doors. The following is based on a tour of the building site, led by the two directors of Co-Work & Play.
There is dust in the air. Construction workers are drilling. A kitchenette is being placed in its final destination. It is November 2016 and we are in the middle of Frankfurt Ostend, a city quarter characterized by much dynamism and a drive towards progress. There are many construction sites in this area. Yet, this one is special. Here, near the European Central Bank in a space belonging previously to one of Germany’s biggest advertising agencies, new work places are being created. They are kid-friendly and can be booked flexibly. In the future, freelancers, digital nomads or start-ups can develop and implement creative ideas here, while their little ones are minded nearby.
„This space will be our ideas factory – the wall mural depicting a panorama of the Alps is meant to encourage comprehensive thinking within the projects.“ Of the two directors, Jana Ehret is the visionary. She designed the interior of the 1200m2 coworking space. As a futurologist and a creative individual, she has in-depth insight into the ways in which the freelancers of tomorrow envision working. “When thinking about my own future as a mother, I don’t want to sit in some office, knowing my kids are somewhere else for 8, 9, or even 10 hours per day, without a chance to even see the kids during this time.“
In her early thirties, Jana has been working on the idea of creating a workspace for freelancers in which children are welcome for some time. Research in Berlin or Leipzig provided her with the necessary inspiration. “There, family-friendly work spaces have been available for several years,“ reports Jana. Yet, although the topic of work-life balance seems to be discussed a great deal, it seems that, in Frankfurt, it is not necessarily easy to initiate a similar service offering. Yvonne Schrodt, the other director, describes her experiences with the city and with real estate owners as tough. “Children are not welcome in all buildings, in all areas.“ Many landlords were skeptical of her idea and were afraid that other tenants might feel disturbed by the sounds of the children’s voices.
Meanwhile, Jana points to a half-finished area beside the kitchen. “We have an eating space for children and parents – simply for all who are here.“ Both women want the self-employed parents to be able to spend more spontaneous time together with their children. In between working, while eating spaghetti or marble cake. Simultaneously, separate areas for the kids are designed to avoid distractions while working and enable concentration.
The key is in finding the right mix between work and private life. Yvonne knows this from her own experience. “My former boss was very supportive after the birth of my daughter and allowed for total flexibility – my return to work would otherwise hardly have been possible.” Self-employed individuals are their own bosses, but they are still required to provide their services flexibly and cannot always plan ahead, particularly in the wake of the changes within and increased flexibilization of the working world. At Co-Work & Play these individuals, therefore, have complete freedom of choice. In addition to flexible work spaces, there are fixed team offices or meetings rooms of various sizes available. Child care can be booked on a regular basis, or added flexibly as needed – the same goes for food for both parents and kids.
An innovative offering. However, the question remains how much flexibility is required by self-employed creative individuals? To what degree must children adapt to the working world? Or vice versa? Or must the clients become kid-friendly as well? Time will tell. At the beginning of 2017, this project will open it’s doors. Then, the dust will be replaced by high-speed internet and children’s toys.
For more information visit www.co-work-play.de
Is a certain atmosphere, or a certain space, necessary in order to be creative and productive?