Why I opened a luxury co-working space
My career transition to a co-working space entrepreneur
My path to opening a co-working space and becoming an entrepreneur was convoluted! After 20 years in a corporate career, I thought I had seen every type of office environment possible: working in the confined intimacy of a cubicle or in the vast horizon of the open space, experiencing the splendour and misery of the flex desk and the aridity of the paper free environment. Ultimately, it was moving to a post-industrial commune outside Brussels that did it for me. It was the last straw. The feeling of deep rejection I was experiencing was more related to disillusionment about the corporate career path, than reverse commuting. That became symbolic for going backwards.
I just couldn’t stomach it any more.
I couldn’t project myself in the future and sign up for objectives that were supposed to be SMART but were becoming less attainable each year. I was feeling pressured, fooled and cornered in a function I didn’t want to be in. It was even more frustrating that the same demands were not made of my male counterpart. Although less qualified than me in some areas (but earning the same salary) the expectations of his performance seemed to be considerably lower.
[Tweet “One day, I realized that I didn’t trust the system anymore.”] I was a woman, two years short of fifty and I had lost faith. Did I want to depend on the goodwill of an ever-changing board of directors for the remaining 17 years of my career? Praying each year that I would make it to the next? Concerned that I would not be cast aside?
Co-working space entrepreneur
Don’t misunderstand me. I enjoyed corporate life for many years. But at a certain point that stopped. And I am not the only one. [Tweet “Many people are questioning a system where women have a different expiration date than men.”]
A period of sociological analysis coincided with my decision that I was no longer cut out for corporate life. I began to realize how much our age is close to the thirties in many aspects. I saw that we are on the brink of a societal change and the general context is very grim indeed. The emergence of the collaborative economy is changing the way we work and sharing a workplace or a desk will become a normal practice in our professional life in a near future.
[Tweet “It was during this process of pulling together all these different threads that I found my passion.”]
Be the change you want to see I the world
I saw that I wanted to be part of that change and make it not just great, but splendid! Because what do people need in times of uncertainty? A touch of security, luxury and security. Because they deserve it! And because that will make them not only happier, but even more productive.
Suddenly, I envisioned a haven for all solo-preneurs, self-employed entrepreneurs and freelancers. A place where they could experience all the services and benefits of a corporate environment with the flexibility and independence of a co-working space. With my deep experience of every type of office set-up, I knew that I wanted to open my own co-working space.
And so Chester&Fields was born in the Montgomery area of Brussels. My goal was to create a place where I would want to work. The perfect venue, which would be an ideal setting for a brand or a business. A place where co-workers would be pleased to come to work, network and meet. A cosy, beautiful and efficient place where I could be my best self and be my most creative and efficient.
With a touch of humour and a bit of fun at the end of the day of course. An Italian cocktail from the bar trolley by instance…
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