On my way to the creation of a coworking and coliving space in the French Alps, experiencing and learning from similar places are obvious keys to success. Coconat had been on my list for a while, but I somehow never found a time slot for a visit… Until the beginning of April, after I decided to apply for a 2 month long opportunity as a community manager. I got in touch with Julianne, one of the co-founders, we talked about technical details and quickly agreed on dates.
What does Coconat look like?
The space at Coconat (which litterally stands for COmmunity and COncentrated work in NATure) consists of a wide garden and several buildings for people to work and stay in a small hamlet in the German countryside. Those who don’t come by car usually take the train and the bus to reach this workspace located about 1h20 from Berlin. There are 18 rooms, most of them being private rooms with private bathrooms. Other type of rooms are also available, including a nicely arranged dorm style “tiny house village”. During summer time, hanging tents, regular tents and glamping tents are popping out too. The garden has a big lawn, a vegetable and herbs garden, fruit trees, beehives and a pond that you can even cross with a raft (how cool is that?). Wifi is available accross the whole property to allow people to work outside. Other options for work are one of the 3 dedicated rooms, the skype room, the library or the pub for those who like working in music. The property is constantly evolving and there are projects to create a shop, dedicate a space for big groups, build up a fab lab, etc.
Who is coming to Coconat?
Coconat is a space designed for people to meet and the combination of open-minded human beings sharing similar values with the fact that everything happens under the same roof often makes some magic happen. I bet lots of people would say that a stay at Coconat is intense on multiple levels and, during my 2 month stay, I could witness amazing changes in people’s life, both on personal and professional levels. A big part of the people staying at Coconat is made of groups, but teams having off site sessions and people coming for trainings also meet individuals who want to focus on specific tasks or just need to escape from the city. All of them primarily come for work purposes, but also like to enjoy leisure activities from time to time. Plenty of them are available on site, from sauna sessions to massages, yoga and meditation or just relaxing in the garden. There are bikes available for rent and a hiking trail is going through the property. Nearby villages have much more to offer, there is a big spa in Bad Belzig, and beautiful castles accross the whole region.
What is the community manager role?
Besides the co-founders, there is a whole team of managers, cooks, cleaning personal and gardeners who take care of the place on a daily basis. At Coconat, the community managers are responsible for part of the daily operations. They are the main contacts for the guests. They deal with check-ins and check-outs, daily operational checks (supplies, rooms, etc), introduce the place to the new guests and curate the vibe. Part of the job is also related to the fact that Coconat offers on-site meals (breakfast, lunch and dinner), and the community manager also helps with the preparation. Other tasks include planning activities for guests, updating the “who’s here” pictures and descriptions and answering requests over the phone. There is a community manager available 24/7, but day shifts run from 9am to 5pm and from 5pm to 9pm. Most community managers are volunteers who help 20 hours a week and receive free meals and a shared room accomodation in exchange. It’s a win/win deal and a very good opportunity for those who want to get an experience in the coworking/coliving/hospitality industry while working on their own projects. There is a large range of tasks that people can get involved in; on my side, in addition to the community manager position, I also wanted to join in and learn from the people working in the kitchen, gardening or cleaning rooms and had a chance to give them a hand for a few hours too. Volunteers are usually staying for at least a month, but a few of them are staying long term. The team is very diverse and Coconat is a good place for its members to teach, learn, try new things and express their talents. During my stay there, we had masterminds, piano recitals, skill sharing sessions, yoga and meditation, brainstormings, ayurvedic pulse reading, lots of different workout sessions, etc… The local community is also involved; there is a membership for local coworkers and a lot of events are open to the public (monthly show and tell, retreats, trainings, exceptionnal events like the 2 year anniversary, the apple festival, the Christmas market, etc). The community manager does not have to speak German, but that’s also a great position for those who want to learn or improve in German.
On my side, this community manager experience at Coconat has really been an eye opener for my upcoming adventures with Alpine Booster. In such a short period of time, I learnt so much on a professional level and I am very grateful for the wonderful people I met there! The fantastic co-founders are sharing so much about their experience and we also had a really great team during my stay.
Kudos to everybody for making Coconat such an amazing place!