By Georgia Grimond, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Co-working, when a group of people comes together to share office space, overheads and ideas, is gaining traction in Brazil. Recent figures by Ekonomio, a Brazilian blog on creative and collaborative industries, showed that there are 238 active co-working spaces in the country, with 56 new places having opened in 2014 and a further ten already in 2015.
São Paulo state was responsible for forty percent of the market with 69 spaces. The city of Rio de Janeiro has the second most spaces, ahead of Belo Horizonte, with nineteen shared offices in operation.
Co-working was a termed coined in the United States in 2005 and has since become an increasingly popular way to work, particularly for freelancers, those in creative industries and technology start-ups. Individuals or small companies pay a monthly fee to rent a desk or area within a co-working space.
Included in the price are basic amenities, such as high-speed internet, lockers, access to meetings rooms and refreshments for example. The spaces also provide networking opportunities, support for young businesses and the chance for workers to collaborate with people in related industries.
In Rio, where business rates are high, rental contracts long and commutes difficult, co-working close to home has become a sensible option for many freelancers and small business. Templo, which has run a space in the residential neighborhood of Gávea since 2012, was one of the first in the city. Now with over 200 entrepreneurs on its books, it has a second house in Botafogo, an exchange program with Silicon Valley and a new collaborative technology and innovation laboratory spinoff called Olabi.
In the past year in Zone Sul (South Zone) alone there have been three newcomers. Rio Arts Club, housed in a secluded, leafy mansion also in Gávea, recently launched The Collective which has clients such as Uber, the executive car company, and Monsieur-B food truck. Rio Arts Club features a lunch service, a pool and a bar as well as film screenings.
In Ipanema, Doca opened its doors in March this year. The first co-working space in the area, it accommodates up to one hundred people and runs a schedule of lectures, exhibitions and workshops.
XXVINTE, in Jardim Botânico, was inaugurated in May 2014. With a dynamic, multi-functional workspace, its clients are focused on fashion, design, architecture, communication and cinema.
The group’s success has led it to plan to open a second, larger house in the coming months. “It is an ambitious project,” explains co-founder Daniel Frazao. “Like the first house, it will depend on the collaboration of all the partners and friends of XXVINTE in order to happen organically.”
Co-working environments are becoming increasingly popular in Rio but, as Mr. Frazao points out, running a space is not without its difficulties. At the moment there is little government recognition and the reliability and cost of infrastructure remains an ongoing problem. For many small-scale business and freelancers, however, the support and opportunities these co-working spaces offer are invaluable.