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The Benefits of Working Together According to the Brothers Bellinga

A collaborative workspace can have several advantages as well as disadvantages. We talked to Rockstart Spaces tenants Pim Bellinga and Roel Bellinga to get the perspective of people who participate in a shared workspace . As you might have figured out by their last names, Pim and Roel are brothers. They also both have their own businesses. Roel is the managing director of the  University of the Netherlands foundation, which is an online platform where the best professors from the Netherlands from all universities give lectures. Within these lectures the professor answers a question within 15 minutes, which is recorded and then distributed by national media partners. Pim founded I Hate Statistics little over two years ago. I Hate Statistics is a web-app that students can use to learn statistics online. A lot of students are struggling with statistics. In some cases they can’t even graduate because they cannot pass statistics. Pim believes that by helping students practice statistics in a step-by-step approach, everyone is able to master statistics.  

Why a Shared Workspace?

Pim started his business from home, but he explained: “I quickly found out it became really frustrating because there’s not really a boundary between working and not working and everything becomes hazy. At the time Roel had an online magazine and we found a small office space where we could work. But things started to grow and grow so we finally had to find a new office space.”

Pim continued “we checked out a couple of different places and then we came here. It’s nice because you have this big space where you can just meet a lot of people of other companies and find out what they are doing. At the same time you have your own space at the top of the building next to it, so you have this nice combination. At least that’s what I liked about it.”

As brothers, they can count on some honest feedback from each other as they tend to skip the nice words and cut straight to the chase. This is, as they say it themselves, ‘not always nice, but it is helpful.’ Besides asking feedback from each other, this shared working space also gives them the opportunity to ask other tenants for help. Pim mentioned ‘We can use the Spaces mailing list and say: ‘okay guys, we’re running into this problem, how are you solving this?’ and people respond immediately saying we can meet for coffee in an hour, which is perfect.’

A Unique, Intangible Atmosphere

So do they think their businesses would be in a different place if they wouldn’t have been in this collaborative atmosphere? Roel thinks it’s hard to define what the benefits are exactly or concretely. ‘It’s more like the good feeling, more like a comfort zone, like you feel at home when you arrive here. That is really important for the whole team, for them to work in such an environment. What I think is really important, is the fact that you come here and it doesn’t feel like an office. Not at all for me. There is always something happening and there’s this whole feeling that makes you feel welcome.’

Another benefit of working in a shared office Pim and Roel mention is the fact that they can invite guests to come over and meet them in the canteen. ‘Then you don’t show you only have two seats in your office and that’s it. And there’s people running around, they don’t have anything to do with us, but at least it gives a positive energy.’

Not only is this a benefit, it can be a disadvantage at the same time. Roel makes clear that ‘it is a little less structured, so it’s small things, that are not noticeable, except for when someone who is not used to a shared space comes to visit. When we have our big partners come around here, there is a possibility that there are no coffee cups. For them, that’s totally odd to see in an office. For us, we don’t mind, we don’t even think about it. But afterwards, we noticed there was something about it.’

A last thought from Roel showed another advantage for a shared office, which is Jeske sitting at the reception desk. Roel: ‘It’s the fact you always have somebody to rely on. It’s the small things, she’s the one who connects everybody and so I think she is probably as much as important as this whole building. She’s always in between everything, on top of everything.’

If you don’t mind an office space that is a little less structured and where you might have to wash your own coffee cup, this might be a great opportunity for you. You could be in a unique flexible space with this entrepreneurial buzz around you. And as a bonus, you’ll get the chance to meet and maybe even collaborate with other founders in the building.


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