Working remotely from Berlin
Captain's log, stardate d263.y36/AB
In our previous blog entry (Our Six Tips for Remote Working), we mentioned how much we identify ourselves with the culture of remote working. It is actually one of the main pillars of our company culture, and our methodologies clearly reflect the need to be able to work from wherever we want.
Actually, before that, we also wrote about hiring in a distributed team and even in our Lessons Learnt post from a couple of months back.
Two of us spent a good ten days in Berlin, the capital of Germany, and this has been our experience.
The best thing about working remotely from Berlin is the city itself. Berlin offers a vast variety of places for every taste. Hence, it is not surprising that the choice of places one can work from is also very rich.
There are places for absolutely everyone: traditional east-German bakeries, sunny terraces near the river, comfy brunch places, themed coffee shops and even secret bars (we spent a night hunting for them!).
Honestly, we didn't even bother to look out for coworking places, even if we came across really cool ones while walking around the city. We preferred working from coffee shops.
While coworking spaces offer more stable connections and a perhaps less noisy environments, we wanted to keep away from real offices.
Working from cafés has also got a lot of advantages: they usually have really good food, serve tasty coffee, require no paperwork or signups and you also get to interact with their crew, which for the most part, are the kindest people.
Technologically speaking, Berlin could do much better. Not only are credit cards not accepted virtually anywhere in the city, but also good wifi is hard to find.
While the credit card issue can be solved with extra cash, the wifi can be a pain in the neck. For instance, we rented an apartment on AirBnB that allegedly had a very fast wifi. Far from that, the connection was useless: we could not even browse, and it was limited to just two devices. Having brought two computers, two smartphones, an iPad and a Kindle, the house connection was completely unusable.
Luckily enough, Foursquare has a very good tag for "places to work" when browsing coffee shops & bakeries. Also, the user reviews tend to include the username/password of the wifi, as well as the connection speed and the amount of outlets available, therefore making it a priceless tool when searching for a place to work.
That being said, most places had an average wifi, but stable enough to work. Some of them had even the port 22 (developer stuff: SSH connection) blocked.
The best places
We tried a fair share of different places during our ten days there. Some we found from an extensive Google search, others from wandering around and browsing Foursquare.
During our stay, we actually required a good and stable connection to test & launch our latest project Eureka Startups Experts. Eureka Startups Experts is a platform to hire experts online through video call, who will assess you on your business. Therefore, we needed to test video calls every now and then, and a good & stable wifi was required.
These are the best three we have found (and wholeheartedly recommend) in order of preference.
3. Olso Kaffebar
Right in the confluence between the districts of Mitte and Prenzlauer Berg, close to Nordbahnhof (in Eichendorffstr. 13), is where you will find one of the best places to work from in Berlin.
Oslo Kaffebar is run by expats, so you will be able to order in English without a problem, and the staff is super friendly. Moreover, we thoroughly enjoyed our visits there because of their musical taste.
The wifi was blazing fast and we had no trouble whatsoever using it, even when the place was packed with people working. The main drawback is that the port 22 was blocked, and we needed to go somewhere else to find it open, but it's a minor issue if you're not a developer.
There are quite a few outlets to plug your laptop and a scarce but delicious variety of sandwiches. We (almost) didn't even mind that there were only vegetarian options. The coffee, on the other hand, is probably the best you can find in Berlin.
Super recommended place, a real winner, and not only to work. The terrace and the park in front of Oslo, makes it a really cool place to spend your afternoon.
2. Distrikt Coffee
Distrikt Coffee is not appearing in any list of great places to work from in Berlin, and it's hard to believe. We actually found it by chance while hunting for an open port 22 near Oslo Kaffebar, so it's also in that area (Bergstr. 68).
The place is huge, and has got plenty of outlets and very comfortable seats and tables, which are rare to find in Berlin. Furthermore, and for the extra points, it has some tall tables good for working while standing.
We spent only an afternoon there but the general impression was lovely: the bartenders were super gentle, the music was awesome (they were binging on The Smiths that afternoon) and both the coffee and the food were really tasty.
The real winner here is the wifi connection. It was the fastest we found in the whole city. Probably one of the best-kept secrets in Berlin, and it's good that it stays like this.
1. Schiller Bar
In our last day in Berlin, we dropped by our buddies 8fit's offices in Neukolln, so we had to look for something around that area. Luckily enough, after 5 minutes wandering around, we came across the best place we found in Berlin: Schiller Bar in Herrfurthstraße 7. No Google, no Foursquare, just chance.
Àlex concentration level is OVER 9000!
Not only do they have a really cool website listing everything they offer, including Google Maps' inner view (we sat on that blue couch!), but they were also really cool to us the whole day we spent there.
There were quite a few outlets here and there, plus a really fast wifi (port 22 enabled! yay!), and the place was really comfortable. Actually, comfortable enough to spend the whole day there.
But the real highlight here is their crew and the food. The waitresses were really attentive and courteous to the only people working there (us two), and cooked the most delicious food. The Schnitzel Wiener Art was really tasty, and so were the sandwiches and coffees we had for breakfast. Schiller became our favourite place in Berlin to work remotely.
Actually, a week and a half was not enough to check all the places, but we are glad to have found so many outstanding places that confirm Berlin as one of the best destinations for digital nomads and remote workers.
Have you found any other cool place that isn't listed here? Feel free to share it using the comments section below!