A local hub next to the headquarters? Check. A temporary refuge to escape construction workers? Check. A cure for the loneliness of the home office? Check. A flexible solution to accommodate a growing team? Check. Our members choose to cowork for a bunch of different reasons. We talked to Delphine De Pauw (Team Lewis) and Elien Dekeersmaeker (ACA Group), who both moved into Brain Embassy this summer.
Team Lewis: 'You need to make the office more attractive than the home office'
International PR and marketing agency Team Lewis went hunting for a new satellite office in Antwerp a few months ago. “Our previous office didn’t do the trick anymore”, explains Delphine De Pauw, managing director for Belgium. “We were looking for a creative environment that reflects our values. Worldwide, Team Lewis works from both dedicated and coworking offices, so we visited offices in both categories. We didn’t really have a preference. Until we visited the last spot on our list, Brain Embassy. Bull’s eye.”
“Working from home is totally established these days, I can no longer imagine working at the office five days a week. So, as an employer you need to make sure that your office is more attractive than your employee’s home office. You need to make it worth the trip. Location is the first step: talent that lives around Antwerp doesn’t want to commute to Brussels every day. What the office looks like, which vibe it has, that’s the second step.”
“When I first applied for a job 14 years ago, I didn’t really care for the office environment. These days, candidates pay a lot of attention to the office. It’s a weapon in the war for talent. When we do job interviews, Brain Embassy impresses people. Nobody will take a shitty job just because the office looks nice. But it does work the other way around: you might lose candidates when you can only offer them a boring, mind numbing office.”
“Brain Embassy is buzzing with activity all the time."
Go with the flow
What are the main advantages of coworking for Delphine? “Brain Embassy is buzzing with activity all the time. That’s inspiring, you go with the flow. But our agendas are jammed with meetings and calls, so at the same time, we need quiet spots to break out of our 8-person office from time to time. Brain Embassy has plenty of those spots. That combination is what I like most about a coworking place: the buzz and the coziness.”
“Another big pro is the community offcourse. You meet other companies and you get in touch with potential clients in an organic way. Just being in a coworking is already a form of business development. In our previous office, we occupied one floor and we never met the companies on the other floors. In a coworking place you automatically build a new network.”
ACA Group: 'Coworking is a way to boost our network and our visibility'
ACA offers tailor-made software solutions. The company has 250 employees. Next to its headquarters In Hasselt, ACA also has offices in Leuven, Ghent and Antwerp. “Coworking in Brain Embassy is a temporary solution while our new Antwerp office is being renovated”, says HR Business Partner and Antwerp site lead Elien Dekeersmaeker. “We didn’t want to force our Antwerp employees to lead a nomadic life. A coworking place was the perfect in between.”
“We have a very flexible policy; our employees can work from home 3 days a week. We could have chosen to bridge this period without an office by letting everyone work from home full time. But we’ve noticed that some people really need to be around colleagues more often. Especially young people living alone. (laughs) Or people with young kids, who make it challenging to work from home. Don’t underestimate the social function of an office!”
Flexible and budget friendly
ACA Group uses day passes to work in Brain Embassy, says Elien. “It’s a flexible, budget friendly solution. We only pay for the employees and the days we actually use the coworking. After COVID-19, a lot of companies pay for offices that are half empty most of the time. Our hub in Leuven is located in a coworking place, so we were already familiar with the option.”
“Coworking is not just convenient, it’s also a way to expand our network. There are other IT- and software companies at Brain Embassy. By sharing the same space, they become a lot more accessible to us. You don’t just ring the bell at other companies’ offices, but you do talk to someone at the coffee machine. We need to work on our local visibility in Antwerp. It would have taken us months to meet all of the companies we have met here in a few weeks, just by coworking together.”
Team brain embassy