‘Beach’ coworking spaces the new craze in Sao Paulo

Umbrellas and deckchairs bring a touch of the beach to a coworking space on Paulista Avenue in Sao Paulo – Copyright AFP Sabah ARAR

Florence GOISNARD and Pascale TROUILLAUD

After 18 months in lockdown due to restrictions linked to the coronavirus pandemic, Brazil’s largest city, Sao Paulo, is breathing again, in part thanks to outdoor coworking spaces.

Once the realm of internet startups, these coworking businesses have spread to a wider clientele while moving from offices to rooftops and terraces.

“Forty percent of GoWork companies are conventional: lawyers, consultants, auditors,” said Fernando Bottura, the young owner of GoWork, one of the first coworking companies in Sao Paulo which now has 14 premises covering 32,000 square meters. .

“We have had a 300 percent increase in requests for estimates from large traditional companies (since 2019) like companies in the fertilizer and plastics industry,” Bottura said, clad in jeans and sneakers. .

There are around 200 coworking spaces in Sao Paulo today, “increasingly outdoors with roofs,” Bottura said.

“It no longer makes sense for anyone to rent an office. “

In Brazil as a whole, coworking spaces increased six-fold between 2015 and 2019 to reach nearly 1,500.

In the metropolis of 12 million inhabitants, “beaches” with parasols are set up on the roofs and terraces, sometimes right next to cafes and even sports grounds.

“We take great care of the well-being of the employees. We know that employees who work in a good mood grow a lot, ”said Renan Camargo, 38, an online merchant using the GoWork space on the city’s prestigious Paulista Avenue.

For Mateus Santos, 25, sales representative in digital marketing, “it made sense to seek an environment that favors flexibility as much as investment”.

Even though face masks are mandatory, coworking spaces provide an opportunity to network and interact with people after months of working from home.

– ‘Friendly and family’ –

B2Mamy, created in 2019 by Danieli Junco, is a “family” coworking space.

The 500-square-meter space, originally designed for women working in the pharmaceutical industry, is adorned with inspirational messages such as: “Between mother and CEO, choose both”.

Children run from table to table, while their parents participate in video conferences on their laptops.

“We have spaces for adults, spaces for children, an innovation hub, courses, speed dating for companies to get to know each other,” said Junco, 41.

There are even childminders, and all for just 1,000 reais ($ 180) per year.

Jessica Ulliam Ferrari Rua, 36, CEO of a digital company, is one of the 60 women who use the coworking space every day.

Lying on a mattress, she strokes the hair of her three-year-old son Lucas, for whom the time of the nap has arrived.

“He comes to find me when it’s time to sleep,” she said. “For 10 minutes he’s here nearby, then I go back to work. It is a relief for a mother and it also allows me to work.

With schools closed during the pandemic, Thais Alcantara, 37, was able to teach his five-year-old daughters Paola and Bianca to read and write at B2Mamy.

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