Trading places: coworkers switch cities

Utopic_US coworking Madrid and Betahaus Berlin
by Rafa Moreno

When ten fresh-faced Spanish nomads arrived in Berlin for the first time, they went straight to Betahaus, a coworking space in Berlin. No, they didn’t work for the same company, and they weren’t coming for a tour. They arrived en masse from Madrid where they worked at Utopic_US, and had come to Germany on a coworking exchange.

Betahaus rolled out the red carpet. In the two weeks of their stay, the Spaniards attended workshops, were toasted at parties, and connected with Berliners they never would have otherwise met. And rumor has it they may even have got some work done.

A crazy idea

The exchange was organized by Rafa de Ramón and Christoph Fahle, founders of Utopic_US and Betahaus, respectively. Modeled after the Erasmus exchange program, it was designed to help members get the most out of coworking culture by spending time abroad for personal and professional advancement.

Their crazy idea consisted of the two spaces each sharing their coworkers for a couple of weeks. The main objective was to create targeted professional opportunities by matching coworkers with each other. In anticipation of the first exchange, Fahle asked Betahaus coworkers to get involved and sought out ten hosts in Berlin who could offer accommodation and play tour guide for the Spanish guests. Then the Spanish participants each sent their profile over and were paired with a German host.

The visitors were to carry on with work from home or be open to starting a new collaborative project with the people they met. Regardless of the results, the expectation was that everyone would have a blast and benefit from mixing with a different community of professionals.

Madrid to Berlin

While traveling can give you new insight, experiences, and help you grow as an individual, coworking in different spaces around the world helps you grow as a professional.

Wilhem Lappe, a well-known speaker in the Spanish entrepreneur ecosystem, found a new opportunity to expand his business while in Berlin, but he didn’t expect what would follow.

Lappe had said that the coworking exchange gave him “a new perspective.” In time it also gave him a new home: a year after the exchange, he moved to Berlin.

So far, he is still living in Berlin – working from Betahaus, of course. But how does a guy known for his speaking skills adapt to living in a country where he doesn’t speak the language? By learning the language, of course. He’s now embedded in the German entrepreneur ecosystem and is making headway with his company, Emprelab.

Berlin to Madrid

A few months after the Spanish crew visited Germany’s capital city, experiment was repeated in reverse. Fifteen German coworkers from Betahaus paid back a visit to the Spanish capital for ten days.

Utopic_US opened the doors of their workplace and offered their own homes to the German visitors, taking the experience beyond coworking and into co-living.

Drop what you’re doing and go cowork abroad

Being part of a community of likeminded professionals can help you bring out the best in yourself. Two friends – Fahle and de Ramón – were from different countries but had the culture of coworking in common, and with it they created a great professional adventure for their members. For some, it changed the course of their professional trajectory.

Everyone should live this experience at least once. Check out our article about how you can start globetrotting with CoPass and the Coworking Visa program, and other services that enable coworkers to travel and connect with new people in new spaces.

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