Direction: Rural joint action

Community

VOGELSBERG (above). Driving to the office every morning for 20 or 30 years and doing work in your office – there will be less of that in the future. The laptop can be set up anywhere and vacant workstations or desks can be rented individually in so-called co-working spaces – for months, weeks, or even just a few hours. How exactly this business model works and what opportunities can open up for Vogelsberg, there was an event at the Alsfeld Town Hall.

Co-working spaces as an alternative to the home office, as a relief for occupants, as a flexible space offering for employers or as a solution for the self-employed – there are many reasons in favor of the new model. “Given this background, Vogelsberg should publicize its central location so that entrepreneurs can create co-working sites here in central Germany,” suggested Jens Misach, the first local councilor and head of the economic department, in front of several entrepreneurs and mayors.

Summing up “the world is in turmoil,” Mishak cited the exponentially increased costs in the construction and energy sectors as examples, but also delays and delivery bottlenecks, for example in the food sector. “We are facing the challenge of inflation that we haven’t seen in decades.”

The view of rural areas has also changed. “The two years of the pandemic have shown that life in the big city is not the best with all the restrictions.” On the other hand, the state provides freedom. “We have a chance like Vogelsbergkreis because we become attractive.” Mishak was convinced: “In the future, rural areas will have a completely different focus, we will have to approach our strengths differently.”

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Various models are possible

One possibility is to create co-working spaces, speaker Thorsten Wilhelm was convinced of this and gave several examples from Schleswig-Holstein. “We bring the workplace closer to the place of residence, and we offer a form of collaborative work,” the spokesperson said. It is not only about the shared infrastructure, it is also about the community and the culture of the community. The trend is spreading: “In two years, more than five million people will be working in about 40,000 places,” the spokesperson predicted.

There are different models – from fixed-rate monthly membership to Flex Desk (looking for a free seat, low monthly payment) to Fix Desk (fixed desk, slightly more expensive). Rooms can also be rented temporarily for events, meetings and workshops. The workplace is close to people in rural areas – this eliminates long commuter trips, there are fewer carbon dioxide emissions and traffic fatalities, infrastructure is protected, and the local economy is boosted.

Good experience in rural areas

Torsten Schneider, who created co-working spaces in Alsfeld’s old post office, had a good experience. “In addition to the classic co-working, we also have 15 small office tenants that share the infrastructure,” he said in a small panel discussion moderated by Volker Ness. Schneider’s clients include independent employees from the region as well as companies from Saudi Arabia, Berlin and Stuttgart. “Basically, interested people from all over the world approached me.”

“Businesses will inevitably say we have to make space in the area,” Schneider said with conviction, not least because of exorbitant office rents in urban areas.

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Kirturf Mayor Andreas Fey is also following this trend. In addition to the medical center, there will also be co-working spaces at Kirtorfer Höfe. “We had to fully develop the Kirtorfer Mitte, the home office that suits us during this time,” Fay revealed in the small discussion group. “A lot of people stayed at home at first, but focused work wasn’t always that easy with the family. It was precisely this issue that was brought to our attention and addressed.” With co-working spaces, precisely this separation between life and work can be created. The spaces are supposed to be complete by the middle of next year, so nothing has been rented yet.

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