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Providing Parents With a Path Back to Work

Following on from Rockzipfel and juggleHUB in Germany, WeWork and Collab & Play in the United States and Third Room in the United Kingdom, one of Hungary’s first coworking offices, Loffice is establishing a family-friendly space for those who would like to work in the same building with their small children.

The Coworkid project is not the first of its kind in Budapest, but it certainly is the largest. So far, family-run coworking spaces such as Clusterhaus have been trying to fill this niche. Parents who want to work often find they are stuck at home with small kids, under pressure due to a shortage of nursery spaces or the lack of flexibility from state-run institutions.  

Some companies, such as IT firm Prezi, offer daycare for staff, but this is not very common in Hungary just yet. “This facility is for Prezi employees’ children above one year,” spokesman Csaba Faix tells the Budapest Business Journal. “Colleagues have to pay a certain amount each month and will be in the same building with their kids,” he explains.

In preparing their project, the Loffice team used data from the Central Statistical Office (KSH) and their own analyses to see whether there is a real need for a coworking office with daycare. At the end of 2017, only about 5% of those employed in Hungary worked part-time, which is well below the European Union average of 19% (and a whopping 50% in the Netherlands).

A focus group analysis in September 2017 by Loffice showed flexible work helps fathers and mothers to get along on the job market. It also indicated that parents with small kids are open to learning skills related to the latest technology, they are flexible, and motivated to act against social isolation and economic stultification.

Embryonic Days

Coworking offices are gaining weight globally with the concept of flexible work spreading. But not in Hungary, where those at home with their small children – mainly women – are for the most part stuck with their laptops on the dining table if they opt for working.

The Coworkid project aims not only to provide room for them with office space plus a nursery, but also to offer recruitment agency services and technology-focused training as well, aiding the return to the job market after having a child, the website said.

“Young parents are motivated, open to learn new competences, more concentrated in their work and good at multitasking. It’s interesting to see how easily and effectively life experiences can be used in the realm of work,” Andrea Szablár, Coworkid project manager told the BBJ. “It’s important to stress that parenthood doesn’t equal full isolation from employment.”

The first such day at the end of March was a success, with more than 200 registered people. Panelists from international companies such as BlackRock, GE and KPMG welcomed this activity since they’re striving for manpower.  

“For them a new population stratum of parents with small kids becomes available, which is important since their work potential has been untapped so far,” Szablár said.

A fully working Coworkid office with 60 seats will be launched next year but pilot days and programs are being organized at the downtown Budapest headquarters until then, with the space adjusted to meet the expectations of parents with small kids.