5 September 2016

Official figures from Spain show that more than 70 people a day there are becoming “autonomos” – freelance workers. No surprise, then, that co-working spaces are springing up all over the country with more than half of Spain’s estimated 400 serviced facilities for freelancers concentrated in Barcelona and Madrid.Espiritu 23 logo

As has been found elsewhere in the world, these co-working spaces provide, not just the physical things that many self-employed people need (desks, wifi etc.) but the psychological ones. For as studies have shown: “being surrounded by similar people increases productivity in comparison to working alone at home where distractions and fewer social interactions can lead to boredom and, what’s even worse, loneliness.”

But co-working spaces are as varied as the people who occupy them and among the more interesting examples is “Espiritu 23” (www.espiritu23.com) which opened in Madrid’s hip Malasana district in 2012.

Set up along with three friends by Madrid-born music journalist and festival manager Pedro Bravo, Espiritu 23 is aimed at freelancers who want to “develop and make a change, and work for the social, economic and cultural dynamisation of Madrid.”

Co working in madridStunning, tattoo-inspired murals by Spanish artist, Ricardo Cavolo, 34, (who has since worked his decorative magic in several branches of Urban Outfitters) cover the walls of the building’s entrance at Calle del Espiritu Santo 23 which offers co-working spaces on the ground floor (from 10 euros per hour) and rooms for courses and events in the basement. These include yoga sessions and a monthly market opened to anyone who “wants to get rid of personal clothes and consumer goods they no longer use.”

Interviewed in 2015, Pedro Bravo (44) talked about his passion and ambitions for the social enterprise that he hopes will “transform society by facilitating and stimulating contact between different groups of people.”

Not far away from Espiritu 23 in Malasana is “La Bicicleta Cycling Cafe and Workplace” (www.labicicletacafe.com), an initiative that combines a cafe with a cycling shop and a co-working space. One user described it as: “not so much a co-working incubator, more of a cafe specialising in offering an infrastructure to co-working professionals.

“Founded by experienced, cafe inhabiting freelancers, attention has been paid to such details as the availability of universal chargers, lockable desk drawers and different sizes of tables.  As a cycling cafe, it is also a home base for cyclists in Madrid where you can meet and start activities together as well as service your bike.”

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