“Coworking can teach big companies how to treat people in a way that they will feel appreciated”
Romy Sigl, Coworking Salzburg
Romy Sigl is one of the biggest players in the Austrian coworking scene. She is both the founder of Salzburg’s first Coworking space, and the Coworking Camps platform, which caters to space founders from various countries helping them to connect find ways to ensure coworking will become a sustainable work model. As the Coworking Europe Conference is only a few months away, we got in touch with Sigl to find out a bit more about her latest projects and what are some of the challenges coworkers are facing today.
Hi Romy. You are very involved in the coworking community in Austria; can you tell me a bit about how coworking spaces have evolved in Austria since you opened Coworking Salzburg?
We are seeing more and more spaces that call themselves “coworking spaces”, which are now entering the market. They co-opt the positive image of coworking to create an identity. This is Okay, because it proves that the pioneers who believe in community, rather than fancy office furniture, were successful in introducing the concept and spreading knowledge to the public.
Now that the concept has gained traction, what kinds of projects are you currently working on?
One of the major positive effects of having new players in our coworking scene is that it has forced us to re-think what our definition of coworking really is. We have also reconsidered what the benefits are and how we can support our coworkers even more. This type of thinking has led us to our current project: a cowork&baby service. Parents will be able to bring their babies to the space and a shared babysitter will take care of them while they get the chance to put in some much-needed hours of work.
Another project of ours, Coworking Camps, are one-week events that allow us to get in touch with like-minded people from all over the world. Spending one week together enables a deeper connection between the participants, interesting feedback on how you can improve your own space and can sometimes lead to new collaborations. You get what you give.
Are there still challenges for coworkers in Austria? If so what are they?
The biggest challenge for coworkers is to find clients who can pay adequately, so that in the end, after paying for taxes and health insurance at about 50%, you are left with some money to live on. Having a first employee is another big challenge because again about 50% we have to calculate for taxes and health insurance. If you want to pay fair money and at the same time offer competitive prices – it’s really difficult.
What do you think the current expectations of workers are in Europe? And do you think coworking will be the future of work in Europe?
For individuals who love freedom and don’t see stable income as the number one priority of work, coworking is the perfect solution. Being an employee in a traditional company also no longer offers 100% safety, thus the number of people who are coworking is growing. Coworking is not the solution for everyone, but what big companies can learn from us and are willing to learn from us is how to treat people so that they feel appreciated, productive and can love what they do.