The coworking concept is not a new one. Inspired by the hackerspaces of the 90s, the first coworking space opened fourteen years ago in San Francisco. But in Croatia, coworking is still in its infancy. Many of the spaces have opened within the past several years as the country has gained ground as a popular tourist destination and a spot to escape the Schengen area for European-based digital nomads.
I am one of those digital nomads myself and, although I have great WiFi in my current AirBnB and a job (teaching English online) that isn’t conducive to working in a shared space, my curiosity got the better of me.
I visited three of the four coworking spaces in Split (CoCreative – you’re next!) to see what kind of facilities they offer and wrap my head around the coworking concept. While all three of the facilities I visited offered many of the same services, each was unique in its atmosphere and appeal.
The first one I visited was WIP Coworking. Affiliated with Remote Year, a global work/travel company that’s raised $12 million from VCs. VIP Coworking offers a wide range of programs and events in addition to the standard co-working amenities. Catering to a younger techie crowd, they were setting up for a programming session when I arrived.
The general manager, Mate Babic, is a Croatian native who recently returned home after living in Canada. He was kind enough to show me around and point out the benefits of working at WIP.
The space is well-equipped for solo workers and those who are there to collaborate with others. A large open workspace is bordered by a windowed conference room and five call booths for anyone who needs to have a private phone conversation. There are 70 seats available with plentiful standard and USB outlets.
All-access passes can be purchased on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis.
Its urban design features concrete walls, Edison bulbs in copper fixtures, and a mix of bar stools and soft furnishings. Its Instagrammable interior is frequently photographed, particularly the bold letters on the wall near the entry that encourage you to “Punch today in the face.”
WIP is ideally located. Across the street from the beach, remote workers can take a tech break and go for a swim or grab food from the grocery store next door for lunch in the refreshing sea air. For those with their nose to the grindstone, coffee and snacks are available in the building and a small kitchen is equipped with a microwave, sink, and basic cooking supplies. Clean, stocked bathrooms and 24/7 access mean you won’t have to leave until you’re satisfied with the business plan for your startup or you’ve put the finishing touches on your new website.
Later that evening, I visited Saltwater, a women-owned coworking space right on the outskirts of Diocletian’s Palace. I had a little trouble finding it at first, but then noticed the website mentions that the giant bronze statue of Gregory of Nin is pointing the way.
Saltwater definitely has the female touch. The walls are painted Tiffany blue and the room is filled with plants. Bright orange Aperol Spritz beanbags on the floor contrast with the soft color of the walls and invite you to sink into their depths during breaks from work.
Although Saltwater has more of a feminine vibe, the owners welcome men and women to reserve a chair around their boardroom-sized tables or attend their monthly business events co-sponsored with Amosfera, another coworking space in Split.
On the night I visited Saltwater, I had the chance to attend one of these events at which a local business owner described the process she had to go through to open a shop in Croatia. Mirela Rus and her husband started making and selling Break Time bracelets online from their home in Romania. After moving to Croatia, they opened a store in Split that was so successful they sold their entire inventory for the summer in the first month.
They now own two stores in Split and one each in Rovinj and Dubrovnik. Mirela spoke in rapid-fire English laced with slang and sass to an audience of expats that included English teachers, retirees, digital nomads, online influencers, yoga teachers, spiritual advisors, and entrepreneurs.
This kind of event is one of the many benefits offered with a membership at Saltwater. Though visitors can buy time in increments as short as four hours, weekly and monthly memberships are available as well.
The building is open 24/7 and is handicapped accessible. Snacks are beverages are available on-site and Saltwater’s location near the Green Market means you are never far from fresh fruit and vegetables or ćevapi from a food stand.
My third and final stop was at Amosfera, which is branded as a “social enterprise co-working space.”
In a lively area near the university, Amosfera caters to the social entrepreneur. They offer hot desks and dedicated desks as well as a conference room that holds up to twenty people. When I arrived, a presentation was just concluding and several groups of people were huddled together discussing business strategies.
Amosfera doesn’t have the drop-by-and-hang-out vibe of WIP and Saltwater. You get the impression that the people working in the space are busy founding startups and securing funding.
But their website includes a friendly offer of help with things like bicycle rentals, restaurant recommendations, and even visa questions. This makes the space seem less intimidating for the ordinary remote worker stopping by for their first visit. Niceties like a coffee station, book swap, and information center welcome local entrepreneurs and expats alike.
Like WIP and Saltwater, Amosfera is just a short walk from the beach and in close proximity to restaurants and shopping. So if you need a break, you can leave your belongings in one of the lockers and venture out for a bit.
As an older female, I felt most comfortable at Saltwater. The crowd at WIP was quite a bit younger than I am, and Amosfera was very businesslike.
That’s what makes the variety of coworking spaces in Split great, though. You can find one that suits your personality and work style and has the added benefit of being located near the Adriatic and within walking distance of Split’s shops and restaurants.
If you’re a tourist who needs a place to get some work done while you’re here or a remote worker who wants the company of other like-minded expats, be sure to check out the city’s excellent coworking options.
About the author: Beth Hoke rejoined the expat life after spending her childhood in Europe and the United States, then settling in Chicagoland to raise two daughters.
Now an empty nester, she is roaming Europe, armed with a TEFL certificate and an online position teaching English for EF.
Beth has been traveling around Europe for two years. She’s filed posts for Dispatches Europe from at least six countries including Italy, Germany, Croatia, and Madeira, Portugal.
You can see all her posts here.