Coworking spaces with a soul

14 Feb 2024

‘My mission? Creating coworking spaces with a soul’

The first member of the month in 2023 is our very own Joke Seghers. She has been opening coworking spaces since 2015 and she was the firestarter at Brain Embassy Antwerp. Forget about the traditional office, Joke has made it her mission to create coworking spaces with a soul.

"The last 8 years, Joke lived and breathed coworking spaces. But she started her professional story in a completely different environment. “I worked in the aviation industry for 10 years. I took care of customer operations. It was troubleshooting and putting out fires all day long. But the job became routine and if there’s one thing I really hate, it’s routine. So, I went to work for an asset management company that was specialized in office buildings.”

“You can look at an office building in two different ways: simply as square meters you need to fill, or as square meters with a soul and a DNA as well. I was triggered by the second approach. That was also the idea behind the first coworking spaces that were popping up around 8 years ago. We already knew serviced offices, but a company like WeWork did something totally new. They were not just renting out office space, they were also building communities and experiences.”

“I was curious, and I travelled to London to check out some of those brand-new coworkingspaces. I heard WeWork was opening its first branch in Amsterdam, so, I applied and got the job. In Amsterdam I worked for WeWork and created a co-working hub for The Social Hub. When I got pregnant, I decided to move back to Belgium and joined Fosbury & Sons. I created an operational model for the Antwerp branch that they could copy-paste in Brussels and Amsterdam.”

“In the future, I want Brain Embassy to help you become the best version of yourself. Not just at the office, but also at home."

Far beyond the traditional office building 

“After I gave birth to my second kid Auguste, I took some time off to figure out where I wanted to go next. That’s when I stumbled upon Brain Embassy. 4,000 square meters in the heart of Antwerp, waiting for co-workers. It was an amazing challenge. I could build a team, build a community and create our own DNA by adding a touch of Antwerp to the international brand.”

“I’m really proud of what we have achieved in just one year. We have managed to create a coworking space that feels like a home away from home. I believe there are three key ingredients: the building (and its facilities), the hospitality and the community. These ingredients go hand in hand. With our small team, we work very hard to put a smile on everyone’s face. But will you still value the hospitality if the printer and the coffee machine are broken for an entire week? And will your coffee still taste as good if all the other members in the community are jerks? You need the building, the hospitality and the community. If one is missing, your coworking space won’t work.”

“I want to go far beyond the traditional office building. We all spend a lot of time at work, we deserve something better. At one of the coworking spaces that I helped create, my boss became impatient after a few weeks and asked me: ‘Joke, just tell me how many desks and how many chairs I should buy, so we can open this damn thing.’ It doesn’t work like that. You need more than fancy furniture to create a space with a soul.”

Help you through the rat race

 "Brain Embassy celebrated its first birthday in November 2022, but Joke is already dreaming of ambitious next steps. “I’m a mother of two young boys. I’m building a house. I’m fighting the pressure of social media and other digital temptations, just like everyone else. It’s a struggle to juggle all these balls at the same time. I want Brain Embassy to relieve your stress, boost your energy and get you through that rat race. It’s my dream to move even further away from the traditional office building and become a partner in the wellbeing of our community.”

“Wouldn’t it be awesome if we could eat healthy at the office, take away some food to home, exercise before work or during lunch, take a sharing bike or a shared electric car to your meeting? Maybe even drop your kids off at the day care in the same building?”‍

“In the future, I want Brain Embassy to help you become the best version of yourself. Not just at the office, but also at home. We aren’t there yet and it’s a hell of a challenge, but it’s not just a crazy dream. I believe we can make it happen, together with our team and our community.”

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