LOKAL Tbilisi: The Most Human Co-Working Space in Tbilisi?
There is an Increasing Digital Nomad Movement, Are Co-Working Spaces Improving? I’ll be Telling You About One I Think is Paving That Path — LOKAL.
Transparency Disclaimer in This Report:
LOKAL did not pay me for this report, nor am I receiving anything from LOKAL in Tbilisi at the time of posting. With that said, I did request for comment on using their likeness and this was their response as of the time of writing.
Question: … I’m writing a blog post about Digital Nomadism and enjoyed my time specifically at LOKAL. So, I wanted to use a photo of LOKAL and use the name of the company on said blog post. Nothing necessarily needs to happen on your end but I just wanted your blessings to use LOKAL likeness for this one blog post because I enjoyed it… Regardless, cheers.
Answer from a LOKAL representative:
Yes. Send me a link. I would love to read it.
I appreciate you asking.
So… with that out of the way let’s talk about the first co-working space on my list to review — my personal favorite, LOKAL in Tbilisi.
What is LOKAL and what is a co-working space?
I think realistically it’s very important to separate the two. A “co-working space” as defined by Marriam-Webster is
Being, relating to, or working in a building where multiple tenants (such as entrepreneurs, start-ups, or nonprofits) rent working space (such as desks or offices) and have the use of communal facilities.
Where I’d like to separate LOKAL from the rest of the co-working space is their extreme attention to making people feel welcome and as if they are there not just to help with the business side, but the human side as well.
They also offer private rooms and what they call “co-living” experiences, though I will not be talking about those for the time being, because although reasonable price-wise for the area with amenities included… it is not what this article is about.
As this is a relatively new company, it is finding ways to innovate and expand upon the business set forth by the likes of other co-working giants. As they state on their website they were “…started in the midst of a pandemic” which obviously was where I think they stood out.
Their facilities are well-kept and basically everything you need is within walking distance — including food and, of course, connections for your business, start-up, or nonprofit. Speaking of which — this is a perfect segue into our next section.
Where is LOKAL?
LOKAL is a co-working space in Tbilisi, Georgia. Situated near Shavi Coffee Roasters and Vera Cemetery, it is a door that is fairly unassuming with a doorbell to let someone know you need to be let in. The positioning is a bit odd, though we can’t all choose the exact place we’d like to be for ease of use or ease of advertisement.
Overall I think this category is by far the weakest out of those I will be talking about today. It’s just “okay” for Tbilisi standards, though very accessible for most that live in the city with a quick bus ride or cheap taxi it still was a bit confusing for me to find the door because it wasn’t marked as “LOKAL” — though, I can get past that fact when it’s right next to a few supermarkets and an amazing Georgian restaurant right down the street that takes a few steps to get to.
My friend Ed, a former Tbilisi “resident” was a common sight when he was in Tbilisi — full disclosure, I did have to get him to let me in and get showered with the nice version of “are you just directionally challenged?” Though, while I was there I met some cordial entrepreneurs and got to talking about what they do for work and how long they’ve been doing it. Which ties in nicely to the the third part of the article.
Demographics and Spread of Nationality.
Though I was only there for 2 days as I did not have a membership and was only there with friends and to do events, what I did notice was LOKAL was a MASSIVE spread of nationalities and demography, which made me feel more at-ease. As I had started to work my way around Tbilisi I got this feeling that everything in the more affluent parts of Tbilisi was young Russians working remotely to escape sanctions. But, what I got at LOKAL was a lot of Georgian entrepreneurs, Icelandic entrepreneurs (believe it or not), Dutch entrepreneurs, etc. all working together.
What I found surprising about it all was the lack of a bunch of Americans during the times I was there. Not that that’s a “bad” thing, but rather that the spread wasn’t skewed towards Americans like a lot of co-working spaces are/were which I welcomed.
As for age range there were people I talked to from their early 20s to their mid to late 40s. To my knowledge I was the only teenager on the premises during my stay, though I didn’t mind it because I wasn’t treated any different because I was a teen by anyone there and the staff was very calm and welcoming to seeing new blood there, regardless of if I was 18 or 55.
How is LOKAL Paving the Path for a new Kind of Co-Working Space?
I think we can break this into 3 “subsections” because going in… the “human” aspect may be a bit confusing still. So, with that said what are these 3 subsections?
Kindness Amongst Servicemen and Women
You may have heard the stereotype of service workers being super rude and not caring about you in Tbilisi — this wasn’t the case at ALL for LOKAL. They were very cordial and respectful of who you were and that you were there to work and mingle with likeminded individuals.
Initially, I felt this immense pressure talking to anyone in Tbilisi, I felt like I was wasting people’s time. Aside from my very few friends taking me out, I was petrified of talking to people and in particular service workers were short tempered up until that point.
But the second I went to one of the working sessions I instantly meshed with the energy and was able to realize people were indeed interested in the (admittedly) fairly awkward and reserved 18 year old. The staff was very friendly in the limited conversation I had with them. Providing any and all information they could if I had any concerns.
Clean and consistent in their facilities.
Many co-working offices I’ve been to in the US are somewhat clean, but there was obvious signs people had been there. In LOKAL? Unless you had seen someone physically get up and leave the table for a bit, there was 0 way you would have known. They had a heavy emphasis on making things orderly and consistent. It was a small gesture that made all the difference. The small attention to detail stuff is very often what co-working spaces forget about but for LOKAL it was personal.
Fostering Communities Even Outside of the Common “Corporate Crowd”
How many co-working spaces have you heard of that offer game nights, or free working sessions… just because they cared about fostering a solid community? If you’re like me you’d think this was just a marketing push to get people to sign up to use LOKAL and while that was indeed somewhat of the goal, there was no pressure, thus why I am creating this review.
I didn’t have long enough in Tbilisi to really justify a full-time membership, but the free events made all of the difference.
Game nights were no pressure to sign up for any services offered by LOKAL. They were just giving back to people and if they wanted to toss a couple GEL their way they weren’t going to say no to that but it was always stated as optional, which I appreciated more than I can express on a review.
What is the Bottom Line?
I had a great time, and I think you will too if you’re ever in Tbilisi and are in need of a co-working space. I can’t recommend LOKAL enough, and if you ever happen to stop by because of this article, tell them Keaton sent you and give them a big “thank you” from me to them. I’d be more than happy to see new blood there when I’ll be back in Tbilisi, as well.
I hope this has been useful for an insight into Tbilisi co-working spaces, and any new information will likely be posted in an upcoming blog about my trips to Tbilisi more full-time in March.
You can visit LOKAL’s site and reach them at https://lokaltbilisi.com/ or through their Facebook page.