HR, Home Office, Work, Shopgate,

Workation or: Time off in another country

If I'm going to work 100% remotely anyway, then I might as well try out a workstation like this, was my thought. Already I was sitting in a coworking space in Tallinn, Estonia. You're thinking of young hipsters in colorful T-shirts working on their self-founded start-ups, a non-stop running coffee machine, entrepreneurs loudly phoning in various languages, a lounge where people sleep on beanbags or stare at their laptops? That's exactly what it's like.

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I rent an apartment in Tallinn's Old Town and take a ten-minute bus ride "to the office" Monday through Friday. As a coworking space I have Spring Hub because here you can rent an additional, external monitor - essential for me as a front-end developer. I get a fixed desk space in a beautiful large studio. The desks are lined up in dozens of islands. There are soothing birdsong from the tape, columns entwined with climbing plants, and colorful pictures on the walls. This workspace is a "silent zone"; no talking is allowed. To be honest, I can concentrate better here than at home. The working atmosphere is bright, pleasant and quiet, no distractions like you sometimes feel in your own four walls. For meetings, I grab my laptop and go to one of the small, soundproof telephone booths with glass doors. Admittedly, after an hour the air in there gets a little tight and at some meetings I miss my second screen, but most of the time it's not a problem. I meet my colleagues every day in the virtual Shopgate office, and we exchange ideas in the virtual meeting rooms and via Slack.

The common room in my Spring Hub coworking is at the same time kitchen, meeting place and workplace for people who like to have more noise around them while working. Trash is separated here and anyone who cleans out the dishwasher gets to take a banana or an apple from the fruit basket. New members are introduced on the bulletin board with a photo and a list of questions. It doesn't take long before the first people approach me, offer to be a coding mentor, or ask me how I like Tallinn and which startup I founded. When I talk about Shopgate - without pretending to be a founder, of course! - there is a lot of interest and approval for the idea. Most of them also work in IT, otherwise everything from crypto to protein powder is represented in terms of topics that you would imagine in a startup hub. The members are just as international: In addition to Estonians, there are also Kazakhs, Indians, Ukrainians, Slovaks and Turks. New faces join every week. They all give me tips on the best restaurants, bars and excursion destinations in the area.

The coworking space in TallinnOut of the office, into the old town

After work I go into the city. The old town of Tallinn is so small that I can walk everywhere. It is by far the most beautiful old town I have ever seen. Obviously, Tallinn has not been spared from foreign occupation in recent centuries, but at least it has been spared from bombs and other war damage. The streets are cobblestone, the many alleys with the old, crooked houses are perfectly renovated and absolutely delightful.

Suddenly it's midnight, still not really dark and still warm - Midsummer in July I can highly recommend. The one hour time difference is quite pleasant: I can sleep longer in the morning if I have walked too long through the old town again the night before, watched the sunset from the old city wall and sat in the chic bars and restaurants. Then, when I'm not in the office until 10 a.m., it's only 9 a.m. in Germany, which is my usual starting time. This happens to me more often in the first week out of sheer enthusiasm, after which I settle down to an earlier rhythm. After all, I'm here for three weeks and have enough time to examine each cobblestone individually.

On the weekend I get on the next bus and drive across the country to Pärnu, because I was promised that this is the summer capital of Estonia. In fact, a huge beach stretches out here and I swim in the Baltic Sea next to Estonian friends and families, for whom temperatures over 30 degrees, as on this weekend, are absolute madness. But you can also bear these temperatures well at the port of Tallinn, with a smoothie by the sea or a cocktail in a bar on the harbor promenade.

Coworking in the digital spaceTips for a successful Workation

At Shopgate it is possible to work from another EU country for a while. My workation was fantastic and I know why, so here are some tips. 

Your workspace: Think about what kind of work environment you need and research coworking spaces if you feel like meeting other people. Do you need a quiet workspace and a second screen? Or do you spend most of your time on the phone and need to respond to calls spontaneously? Then it might be easier to open up your laptop in your vacation home and work there. However, I have found it very rewarding to meet other people in coworking.

Your apartment: Do you want an apartment with a kitchen so you can cook, or would you rather have a hotel room where you don't have to worry about anything? My experience was that I never ended up cooking, I was always out and about and my breakfast and lunch was coworking. However, if you're working indoors, go for something bigger with a desk and fridge.

Your time: Take a few days off after your arrival to get your bearings and see the city. This also gives you the opportunity to change apartments again if you find that the room or the area doesn't work for you. My workation had an ideal duration of three weeks to develop a real feeling for life in the city and to explore the country on the weekends.


Tallinn is definitely worth a trip


"Nowadays, a workplace has to offer more than just modern technology and nice colleagues. Shopgate has recognized this and offers its employees many opportunities to shape their working day according to their own ideas."

Aylin Ünal, Frontent Development


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