- Since Russia invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24, people and businesses, including those that operate coworking spaces, have been caught in the middle of the chaos.
- The flexible workspace industry has come together to provide support, training, resources, additional levels of safety and as many of the other basics as possible to help people to continue to live and work.
- Operators of coworking spaces in Kyiv, Sumy and Ternopil shared with Allwork.Space how the war has changed their services, priorities and needs.
On February 24, Russia invaded Ukraine. This immediately turned the lives of so many people upside down and has resulted in thousands of deaths on both sides and millions displaced, along with continued economic uncertainty, energy price increases, and food shortages.
With so much catastrophic change under way, people and businesses, including those that operate coworking spaces, have been caught in the middle.
Should we stay?
Should we go?
Can we go?
Where do we go?
If we stay, how do we continue to live?
Will my savings last?
How do we work?
The questions and unknowns are endless. Fortunately, the flexible workspace industry has come together to provide support, training, redundant internet sources, additional levels of safety and as many of the other basics as possible to help people to continue to live and work.
I was fortunate to be able to connect with the Ukrainian Coworking Association Founder Vika Zhurbas-Litvin and the CEO of andcards Igor Dzhebyan, who were both influential in connecting me to numerous workspace operators around Ukraine.
We discussed the current state of coworking within Ukraine and how volunteers at workspaces have been critical to people and businesses continuing to operate during the war in Ukraine.
These four different workspaces from around Ukraine give insights into what their day-to-day looks like, and what additional support is needed by their communities.
BeeWorking in Kyiv, Ukraine
Ilya Bezruchko is the CEO of BeeWorking, a Kyiv-based coworking network started in 2018.
Ilya said “On the first day of the war, we called all our clients and invited them to find shelter in our coworking space because we have a very safe concrete basement with a shower, kitchen, game room, gym, and other facilities. Also, we acknowledged that our coworking is in an area far from military or strategic objects.”
He also said that “as a business (we) support” Zgrava, a big volunteer organization in Ukraine, “by hosting their medicine in special fridges, and sponsoring their fundraising initiatives.”
Today at BeeWorking
Since the war began, he says “I mostly do online coordination and control things. My day is primarily full of phone calls with Ukrainian and foreign media and organizations because I’m helping local initiatives sound loud worldwide… I’m also looking for different military equipment suppliers, such as vests and gas masks abroad, negotiating the lowest prices, and (connecting) them with our local volunteers.”
Each day is “full of emotions” and it is difficult to keep a clear mind when you want to help everyone but know that is impossible.
Request from Ilya: “Many Ukrainians are out of savings, and businesses (are) on edge. So the most extensive support for us … is to keep buying Ukrainian products in your stores, ordering Ukrainian services, and hiring Ukrainians who will donate and help our country.”
Peremoga in Pechersk, Kyiv, Ukraine
Lara Nimesh is a managing partner in Peremoga, which opened in 2017.
She says that even after the invasion, her main daily tasks with her team at the workspace have remained “unchanged.” It is still critical “to ensure that our service is as high as possible, that our guests and residents are as comfortable as possible in our space.”
Today at Peremoga
Outside of daily operations and “before the active military actions started… (there had been) active support of (many different) initiatives” through the workspace. Whether it was just providing space to meet, volunteers, or one of the numerous other ways to support, the team and members at Peremoga had always found It critical to be involved locally and across the region.
What did change was “only in (the) scale” of our “involvement as a volunteer” during the war.
“For example, our accountant has been actively supporting the left-wing military headquarters since the beginning of active military actions, and our creative manager has been involved in promoting stories that are now actively published by the Ukrainer.
“There are active initiatives related to blood donation. We actively cooperate and help various volunteer organizations; it does not matter whether it is a warehouse to provide space for migrants or a project to ensure IT security. As a volunteer, I am (personally) involved in fundraising for the medical support of military units.”
Request from Lara: “I believe that volunteering works best on the heart’s response, so any initiative is valuable. We regularly post on social media a possible list of initiatives that you can join. That’s why we (want to) invite you (to help). We are happy to share options for what you can do to feel as useful as possible.”
Infinity Space in Sumy, Ukraine
Alexander Yatsentyuk is the founder of Infinity Space, the first coworking space in Sumy.
Although “Infinity Space is a new place … we actively take part in the social and intellectual life of the city. Different workshops and meetings often take place” in the coworking space.
“Recently we had candle-making and accounting workshops, and a financial game (was) organized in Infinity Space.”
Today at Infinity Space
Alexander continues saying that “with the war beginning, Infinity Space turned into (a) nonprofit organization. In the near future, (at) the coworking location (a) Mafia games is planned. All the gathered money will be donated to support the Ukrainian army.”
For their team, becoming a nonprofit means that “we’ve cancelled the payments for all our residents. Everyone can visit for coworking and try how it works. We provide people who cannot afford their own office now with a comfortable place to work.
It is also a nice way to continue (to) work for entrepreneurs, whose employees fled from the city or for those whose office was damaged. In Infinity Space, all these people can gather to launch meetings or organize any event.”
Request from Alexander: Alexander says that he has been trying to “buy a Starlink terminal but unfortunately, it didn’t work” … When the electricity substation in Sumy was bombed by the Russian army, a huge part of the city including our internet providers had no electricity. In such circumstances, having a Starlink terminal … would (help) provide our residents with the internet. My main goal here is to give Ukrainian businesses an opportunity to work and support the Ukrainian economy.”
K15 is a part of Diia.Business Ternopil. It is a coworking space that traditionally has focused heavily on “professional consultations on business registration, taxation, marketing, finance, business process systematization, personnel management, legal support, etc.”
Today at Diia.Business Ternopil Center For Entrepreneurs Support
“Before the war Diia.Business Center specialized in the support of small and medium business … Today, we are doing all the same, but for free for companies. Also, we are trying to develop the community of thinking and creative people in Ternopil, to build (an) eco-system of business development in Ternopil and the region.”
They said that today their “main task is to help entrepreneurs, especially those who suffered during the war and who need to move their business to our region.”
“We can provide them with places to work in comfortable conditions, (and) our free consulting component can help businesses during the war. We tell entrepreneurs about government and donor programs, private initiatives to support entrepreneurs in wartime, which will help save business, jobs and support Ukraine’s economy.”
Request from the team at Diia.Business Ternopil: “It is important for us that many people (would) learn more about us. We provide a lot of free consultations, we help Ukrainian businesses to develop and maintain their livelihoods during the war, and we organize many educational events.”
What’s Next For These Spaces?
Coworking and flexible workspaces can be as simple as a place to sit down and work, but they also have the power to serve a much greater purpose:
- Building a community
- Supporting both the personal and professional growth of its network
- Facilitating knowledge transfers that are critical, especially in times of war
- much more
As we have seen, these workspaces, their volunteers, members, and communities are going above and beyond to educate, support, and bring the people and resources together to help those who need it.
Whether it is to support Ukrainian businesses and people facing hardships and dwindling savings, volunteers working with migrants and other government initiatives, a need for a backup internet setup, or offering free business consultations, there are many ways you can help make a difference today.
How Can I Help?
1. Support Directly
- Send a transfer to the Ukrainian Coworking Association. Once received, they will then distribute these funds to the workspace with the highest needs in the community.
- IBAN: NL45BUNQ2069307336
- BIC/SWIFT: BUNQNL2AXXX
- If you are unfamiliar with the above, the next easiest is to use Paypal. Donate via the Coworking IDEA Project, directing funds to the Ukrainian Coworking Association and other humanitarian initiatives to support Ukraine.
2. Support through an Online Booking of a Workspace
- If you use one of a handful of booking apps (http://withinUkraine.com), any bookings of a desk, office, etc at a workspace in Ukraine goes directly to that specific workspace.
- Also, here is a list of spaces of workspaces that allow for direct bookings to a specific space.
3. Don’t know the best option?
- Vika Zhurbas, President Ukrainian Coworking Association, via Telegram, Igor Dzhebyan, VP at Ukrainian Coworking Association, via Telegram or the European Coworking Assembly. They can answer any questions you may have before making a donation.
All money goes directly to the people who need it.
We are grateful for the cooperation and help in preparation of this article by Vika Zhurbas, President of Ukrainian Coworking Association.