With Russian aggression in Ukraine raging on for more than a month now, dauntless coworking spaces of this free-spirit country are making headlines again. This time, it's not for the innovative work they do but for the courage and power to resist violence and cultivate goodness and grace. We've gathered a few true stories from coworking space owners in Kyiv, Ternopil, Vinnytsya and Lviv to give you a glimpse into what life is like right now in Ukraine. Despite the danger, these spaces remain determined to keep their doors open and continue serving their communities and their country.
From the first days of the war, the team of Creative States has been actively involved in humanitarian aid and the volunteer movement. Today, each community member can and wants to help. There are no doubts about the strength of the community around the Creative States because the culture of sharing is one of the values that unite those courageous people.
Creative States team has created a special fund for humanitarian aid that is directed to civilians affected by the military actions of the Russian aggressor on the territory of Ukraine.
Besides, Creative States joins the initiatives of their proactive residents, such as Oksana Gorbunova from BazaIT to provide all possible assistance to those in need. Be it information about medicine availability, food, clothing, counseling, financial donations, or temporary shelter—it does not matter "how much", the critical point is the willingness to help and be useful to Ukraine.
"We are helping many people now—from Kharkiv IT specialists who are raising funds to defend the city, to a team of Ukrainian mountain climbers who provide all the necessary stuff to reconnaissance group of the southern direction. We help to get the result and not the loud headlines.
Meanwhile, Creative States locations are closed. After the victory, we will rethink a lot. We will upgrade the infrastructure, and create new standards. We must be prepared for a long recovery process. But first, we need to win,” — says Ilia Kenigshtein, CEO and founder of Creative States.
“Today, all Creative States locations remain under enhanced 24-hour security. Together we look forward to returning to our weekdays with the smell of coffee, small talks in the lounges, and happy hours every Friday.” — Creative States team.
“Platforma has already become the center for humanitarian aid in Desnianskyi district. We have also started cooperating with the Kyiv City State Administration and we are constantly expanding our capabilities.” — reports Maria Kravchuk, CMO of Platforma
The workspace arranged two warehouses on its territory. The first deals with individual targeted deliveries for retired and disabled people, large families, refugees, and people with low income who physically cannot purchase food. To get help, people simply write to Platforma on social networks.
The second warehouse is used as a hub of the central humanitarian headquarters. It works with schools, restaurants, and kitchens located on the left bank of Dnipro.
Every day Platforma team handles hundreds of help requests from elderly and disabled people and families with low income and this number continues to grow.
“Our humanitarian center will do everything possible to help everyone who needs it! This is our battlefield and our contribution to the common victory.” — Maria Kravchuk
Besides, together with residents, Platforma launched an International Charity Project to support the Ukrainian army, volunteers, and refugees which can be joined by any coworking space all over the globe as the initiative require additional funding.
The coworking space of the K15 business center was only preparing to open its doors when Russian invaders meanly attacked Ukraine. A huge number of people who had no place to work came to Ternopil, so the hub decided to open up in an emergency.
There is a Center of Entrepreneurs Support Diia.Business in Ternopil on the same floor as the coworking space. So, K15 joined forces with the center and started its operation. This is the best cooperation model because entrepreneurs can work at the K15 coworking space and receive free business consultations and join events at Diia.Business Ternopil.
“Volunteers or those who defend Ukraine on the information battlefield can use our workspace absolutely free of charge. Since K15 is the only coworking space in Ternopil, and now there are a lot of people who want to join the community, we are creating convenient and comfortable workstations for both residents and migrants. We also want to support those who can’t pay for desks, so we offer them to volunteers for free. Also, we participate in #withinUkraine initiative, which makes it easier & faster to directly support teams like ours through coworking booking platforms and aggregators.” — Oksana Kachurivska, Head of Diia.Business Center for Entrepreneurship Support in Ternopil
In addition, together with the regional military administration and Diia.Business in Ternopil, K15 launched a project aimed to relocate IT companies from destroyed/dangerous regions to Ternopil. They receive assistance in relocation, support, and curation from the administration and Diia.Business and comfortable place to work from K15.
"Today, two companies have already moved from Kharkiv and many individual IT specialists are working at K15. As they now say, Ternopil is turning into a small Kharkiv. We hope they will enjoy working with us no matter how long they have to stay here." — says Oksana Kachurivska
We have already mentioned this amazing coworking space on our blog recently. The unique case of Futura Hub is that its team not only helps refugees and provides humanitarian aid to Ukrainian people affected by the war. They also continue to grow their business and even started a new location in the very heart of Lviv on March 18. I surely couldn’t miss the opportunity and asked a few questions about expanding at the time of war Anastasiia Gavrilova, CEO of Futura Hub.
Here’s our blitz interview:
Helga: How did you venture to open a new location during the war?
Anastasiia: I am a person who makes decisions easily and quickly. Now is the worst time to procrastinate. We, as a business that has felt the relevance of the product and the growth of customer demand, decided to unite and act.
In the evening the idea came up, 2 days later we opened the door for our residents. A new coworking space has opened at one of Avalon's commercial properties, which is the company I work for.
There used to be a bar in the basement of the location. Now it serves as a bomb shelter. The factor of customer and team safety was one of the main values and motivations for opening a new location.
Helga: What were the peculiarities of the location launch and promotion?
Anastasiia: The main feature was efficiency. In particular, efficiency in the re-equipment of the location, its pricing policy, and identification of the target audience. As to potential clients, in our case, they were team leaders of IT companies, HR specialists and foreigners, journalists, expats, and representatives of foundations and international organizations. Over time, the location attracted IT companies that relocated from Central and Eastern Ukraine.
The second, not less important step was to properly coordinate targeting on social networks. That’s it!
Helga: Do you provide any special offers at the new space?
Anastasiia: It’s safe to say that our placement, flexibility, and loyalty to existing and potential customers are special offers you are asking about. Coworking space in the center of Lviv has become a great alternative to working in a coffee shop. Besides, we have bottomless coffee and snacks for all members.
At the same time, our first coworking space of 3,000 square meters, Futura HUB, also continues full-time operation despite the war. After some counseling, we decided to offer permanent members to move to a location in the downtown, keeping all the perks of their current contacts.
Helga: Does the new location offer any special amenities that are not normally provided in peacetime?
Anastasiia: The most important amenity is a bomb shelter with excellent mobile and Internet connections, which allows customers not to interrupt their work during air alerts and stay safe.
We also decided to be more flexible and introduce half day passes in addition to day passes as there were many requests for a comfortable place to work for a few hours.
From the first days of the war, the team of Cherdak began accepting migrants from the East and South of the country. It all started from 20, 40, 60 people but then these numbers increased to hundreds! They settled refugees in coworking hubs, schools, and offices. The city's restaurateurs helped with food, volunteers provided clothes and necessities. Friends, partners, and residents of the coworking space helped to organize the shelter centers.
After the active phase of relocating fellow citizens from the hottest spots, the Cherdak team focused on helping to relocate the businesses. They are looking for offices and warehouses, transport, and help to find long-term housing.
At the moment, Vinnytsia is a relatively calm place, there are no battles in the city. Cherdak has decided that their event space can also be useful, so they conduct a series of pre-medical help training during which people can learn some theoretical and practical first aid skills, meet with psychologists, meet with lawyers to record war-related losses, and participate in hackathons to solve business problems here and now.
"Our main business, coworking, is experiencing hard times. After all, constant air alarms and the danger of airstrikes do not allow residents to deeply focus on work. So far, most of our coworking space is empty at the moment and waiting for better times. We believe that our country will win this war and that coworking services will be in full swing very soon." — Feliks Volkov, the founder of Cherdak
BeeWorking is a beautiful coworking network in Kyiv. Ilya Bezruchko, space CEO and co-founder together with the team was working on doubling the number of locations when the war broke out and messed up the deadlines of this brilliant growth plan.
Instead of greeting new customers, BeeWorking had to become a fortress to protect its members and staff. Their main goal now is to save the community and keep the team. However, Ilya makes the best of things and hopes to get his business back on track soon and continue to bring his plans to life. He even recorded a video about that and you can view it right below.
Coworking spaces in Ukraine have been through a lot recently. The war, initial shock, everyday shelling, economic recession, and now they’re helping people survive. It would be easy for them to give up, but instead they’re expanding their networks and trying to help refugees, the army, Ukrainian economy, and everyone who needs it. Let’s show our support for these incredible coworking spaces by sharing this post on social media and donating what we can. Together we can make sure that the Ukrainian coworking community stays strong and helps rebuild their country.