Coworking spaces in the region successfully resist the challenges posed by the coronavirus pandemic

14.04.2021

CODE on Meet up “Coworking after the pandemic, stagnation or growth?” was held online yesterday for the first time.

The coronavirus has brought changes in all spheres of our lives, inevitably changing our work habits as well. Coworking spaces bring together a very specific type of people, entrepreneurs, creatives and freelancers who have chosen a stimulating business environment, which gives them the opportunity to network, and yet gives them enough freedom and the space they need. As such, coworking spaces have faced major challenges in the previous period.

Nenad Stojanovic – the founder of Deli – a space for creative action from Nis and the president of the Coworking Association of Serbia, Miroslav Mijatov – founder and co-owner of the first coworking space in the region, Smart office from Belgrade, Ilija Kaludjerovic – serial entrepreneur and innovator who founded NEST coworking space from Podgorica, and Jovana Music – director of HUB387 from Sarajevo spoke about the obstacles faced by coworking spaces in our country and in the region. There was also talk about CODE HUB Niksic, a coworking space located in the IEC Tehnopolis.

Activities in the region have been quite similar in the past year when it comes to the coworking community.

Jovana Music states that although they had ups and downs in HUB387, despite the bad forecasts, they did not have major problems with achieving sustainability. She believes that the reason for this is the fact that within their coworking space there is also an Academy387 that provides education in various fields, so they have more sources of income that helped them function during the global pandemic.

Nenad points out that the situation in Nis was complex, but that the number of coworkers returning to Deli has already increased significantly. Like their regional counterparts, they did virtual education, podcasts and other online formats in the previous year, which the situation allowed. One year of isolation and lack of real communication with people has led to the need for users to work together, projects and socialize, so the coworking community is slowly coming together. Miroslav has the same opinion, stating that the challenges they faced in the Smart office were very great, but they hope that the crisis will be overcome soon. Nest coworking space opened its premises just before the introduction of lockdown in Montenegro, so they had significant difficulties in the previous year. However, they used that time by obtaining various licenses, so that in the following period they could respond to the needs of the community in the best possible way.

When it comes to supporting, what the whole region has in common is the absence of any kind of state aid, which would be significant for coworking spaces during the pandemic. Negotiations are currently underway in Serbia with government representatives to find a solution that will help the coworking community get back on its feet and reduce losses they have had in the past.

As opportunities for further development, panelists see networking with the tourist community and the inclusion of coworking space in the tourist offer of the city, in order to attract digital nomads. They believe that all regional countries have a good predisposition to be attractive locations for this type of tourist, but it is necessary to create a complete offer in accordance with market needs. They especially emphasize that the services of “virtual offices” are becoming increasingly popular in the region and that this is a concept that is desirable to promote in the future.

They hope that the countries of the region will recognize the importance of coworking communities for the development of innovative and startup culture through national strategies in the future, and that they will have the support they need and think about opening the market for digital nomads and potentially creating a “digital visa”, modelled on many world destinations.

Until then they will fight with good, quality and innovative ideas (which are not lacking in this sector) against the challenges facing the coworking community.

The event was organized within the project “Improving cooperation for the development of cross-border business environment” – 2CODE, which is co-financed through ERDF and IPA II funds of the European Union, within the Interreg IPA cross-border cooperation program Croatia-Bosnia and Herzegovina-Montenegro, for the financial period 2014-2020.

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