Coworking Helsinki: Stop by, and make it quick, at Think Company
Helsinki Think Company is "the entrepreneurship society of the University of Helsinki. Most importantly, we are a vibrant community of changemakers open for anyone to join."
We tested the free Center Think Company coworking space, at Yliopistonkatu 4, and found it to be a bundle of contradictions: Clear communications online but baffling on the spot, a gorgeous entrance with bleak interiors, every amenity available but none accessible. Scratching the surface you'd expect a rathe good employee experience but digging deeper you meet obstacle after obstacle.
Walking in for the first time is an impressive experience. You're greeted with a stunning entrance and a beautiful first floor. The cavernous space is clad with wood and board-formed concrete. The acoustics are well designed, the café like space doesn't overwhelm you with noise. There's a host of options for tables and seats, whether you're working alone or in a group, whether you want to lounge or get things done quick. There's plants and natural light, there's free entrepreneurial events and there's a nice buzz about the place. You get the sense things happen here, progress is made and relationships get built. Think Company has strong ties to the University of Helsinki, but it's clearly informed the coworking spaces are open to everyone and anyone with a laptop. The screens at the entrances give you all the info you need: what's where on the three available floors, the WiFi & password, the events taking place, and so on.
With further inspection, though, you'll find small cumbersome things: the WiFi password doesn't actually work, and you'll have trouble hunting down just one free power outlet - even the café's dish station has to be looked for with a keen eye and patience. There's modern (smart?) lockers but no instructions as to how to use them. Though the variation of chairs is great, they're all mainly just pretty, not actually meant for continuous human use. And the up- & downstairs coworking spaces, meant for quieter work, are colorless, bleak and filled with uni students who near enough growl at the outsiders infringing on their territory.
Were this a regular café it would be doing a decent job, but as a coworking space it leaves much to be wished for. A great employee experience takes so much more; ease, services and a community - a chair, table and WiFi are a given.
And so it seems the space doesn't actually want you to stay. It's saying "Hey you! You're so welcome to stop by, grab lunch and do some quick distance working with your mobile colleagues. But dare to stay and you'll pay the price with a stiff back, drained batteries and a cackle of uni students glaring at you (you did dare to steal a spot in their territory)."
It's also a third-timers coworking space: you're only comfortable after you've spent your first two visits looking for everything.
The location is fantastic though, and I too might stop by again some time, for something very quick. I might also bring a seat cushion and a uni hoodie with me, just in case I decided to stay.