Flexibilization of the working world: too much individuality is not good.
What to do when working conditions just aren’t right? When they begin leading to unhappiness? “Change something,” says Christopher Schmidhofer. His work in Reutlingen has demonstrated: individuality is good, community is better.
When you ask Christopher what he does for work he will first tell you that he runs a coworking space. Because that’s what people are most interested in. The fact that he is a self-employed programmer and the owner of an online sales platform is something he only confides a little later. What is immediately clear to us is that Christopher is a doer.
Home office – not always good
“After three months of home office, I began feeling really cooped up!” the businessman remembers. For personal reasons he was forced to move almost seven years ago. “At first I thought – no problem, I can program from anywhere.” But Christopher soon realized that as an IT specialist he needed social contacts, too.
Many employees dream of the home office. Annoying commutes simply disappear and unpleasant colleagues and bosses no longer interrupt the work flow. But when you actually work from home, day after day, a few disadvantages soon become apparent. For many, it is difficult to keep themselves structured, motivated and disciplined. “I let myself be distracted,” Christopher openly admits. “Whether it’s household chores, a comfy couch or a private telephone – lots of things can keep you from working.” “Ironically, I wasn’t able to stop thinking about work and it kept my mind occupied until late at night.”
For Christopher it quickly became apparent: he needed a different place in which to work. But, what to do about it? During his time studying in Paderborn he had come across the concept used by weXelwirken. There, he had shared an office with several other freelancers. “In the year 2008, no one was speaking of coworking yet – we just did it, because we knew that we enjoyed working together.”
Christopher started a second branch of the coworking space in the South of Germany in 2011 He tells us “I really wanted to keep the name ‘weXelwirken’ from the space in Paderborn. This German term describes how much you can benefit from one another.” Christopher quickly found like-minded individuals who wanted to work together in the same space in Kusterdingen – also because this meant that annoying commutes to Stuttgart became a thing of the past.
Try it out
And today? Although Christopher opens his second coworking space in Reutlingen in July 2017, this is not a business model for him. He organizes these office-sharing spaces out of pure conviction, stating “it is exactly the way I like to work.” He strongly recommends that other self-employed people try out a day in a coworking space. “It’s something you should just go ahead and try out – after only a few hours you will know whether this work style is for you or not.”
Christopher’s tip for other shared offices? “Clear rules are key – just like in shared housing during university, cleanliness is often the cause of disagreements. But in our office, everyone is now doing their share.”