In praise of coworking (and other news)


An early adopter is a person who starts using a new technology or product as soon as it becomes available. I am more of a chronically-late adopter, but that doesn’t stop me from being enthusiastic about the new thing when I eventually discover it for myself.

When I wrote a few months ago about how much I was enjoying my new self-employed lifestyle, the only drawback I mentioned was that it had been difficult, based at home, to keep working time fenced off from family and house duties. The other thing I didn’t mention was the isolation that goes with working solo. Social media makes up for this to some extent but it doesn’t beat having a little catch-up over coffee with real human beings.

I first heard of coworking through a video journalist colleague at who was working one day per week in a shared office space to pursue film and animation projects outside his regular four-day per week job. I thought it sounded great but I wasn’t looking for something like that at the time. Besides, I thought, that’s the kind of thing you only find in big cities.

And then one day this summer, when things were a bit hectic at home, I did an impulsive google search for ‘coworking Fribourg,’ and immediately struck gold with Colab Fribourg. It turned out that there was an ideal co-working space just five minutes’ away from where I live.

Colab Fribourg is an initiative of local entrepreneur Philippe Lang of It has the special attraction of being located in an atmospheric old building in the old industrial part of Fribourg. Not only that, the large, bright office space is directly above the Villars chocolate shop and café. People come from miles around to buy chocolate there.

It is a quiet working environment (with kitchen, meeting room etc.) but Philippe is currently converting a second room with a built-in phone cabin to cater for people who need to talk more and make phone calls.

I have met people from lots of different countries and professional backgrounds in Colab. Many are working on interesting projects. Some of these – like distributing solar panels in Africa, or coaching small businesses – are easy to understand. Others are at the innovative (and more obscure) end of new technology. I hate the word synergies but it is possible I could link up with some of these fellow Colab workers in future.

Apart from pooling resources, the advantage of self-employed people sharing an office space is that you can have as much or as little contact with each other as desired. In that sense, it is different to a regular working space where it’s more difficult to have a quiet day not talking much to colleagues.

In other news, I am getting very good feedback about The Naked Swiss, most recently this five-star review from, in which the reviewer says she enjoyed the book so much she read it in one sitting. Check out this quote:

“Clare O’Dea’s writing is informative without being too dry, and her clear, well-structured style means that this is a fascinating read, occasionally funny, but never boring. It is an excellent social and historical portrayal of the Swiss nation.”

Last week I went to Basel to the home of Bergli Books’ parent company Schwabe Publishing. A good crowd turned out in Schwabe’s book shop Das Narrenschiff for an author talk and book signing. We ended up having a long question and answer session afterwards where I heard from people of several different nationalities. I’m really glad the book is also appealing to readers outside the English-speaking community. Fellow Irish author Padraig Rooney came along to the Narrenschiff event. I am currently reading his book The Gilded Chalet, a highly enjoyable crash course in literary Switzerland.

This week saw an interview about The Naked Swiss by Zurich-based freelance journalist Jennifer Lisle, published in It’s great to be getting the word out about the book. I hope I can come to Zurich soon for an event – just have to find the right co-host and venue.

Finally, the big news is that Bergli has reached an agreement with another Swiss publisher Helvetiq to bring out the French and German translations of the book next year. I’m delighted the book will reach a much wider audience in Switzerland. If you find any mistakes, now is the time to tell me!

16 thoughts on “In praise of coworking (and other news)

  1. Congratulations on all your successes! So exciting. A co-working space sounds like such a great idea. Are they expensive?

  2. I like the idea of sharing office space, this is definitely what I would need to do cause I can’t be trusted not to get distracted by household chores while “working from home”
    Congratulations on your achievements! 🙂

  3. That is cool. I love these sort of work places. They are design to encourage collaborations, aren’t they? I just had a look at their website and it looks pretty cool. Must be a nice change to get out and have a work space.

    1. They create the possibility for collaboration but only for those who want it. They are also suitable for solo types who want to work on their own stuff, just with a little bit of life around them.

  4. That co-working idea sounds quite clever. I wish i had something like that when I was working from home. I really loved the freedom initially, but overtime working from home became harder and harder for me. I now work part-time from home and part-time from an office. I must say, it’s nice to get up and go somewhere!

  5. Congratulations on your book’s visibility. I like the idea of those shared work spaces. I’ve always wanted to share a creative workspace with a cafe attached and a little shop where we could sell our wares. It looks as if I’ll have to set it up myself then, one of these days.

  6. Awesome news about the book. Still need to get myself a copy, oops! Please drop me a line on FB or the blogger group when you’re coming to Zuri. Would be great to meet 🙂 The Colab thing sounds cool. I hadn’t thought of being able to rent office space just for a day or two per week… that could really work for me. hmmmm. Food for thought.

    1. Hi Claire, I’ll definitely let you know when something is happening in Zurich. And let me know if you find a coworking space for yourself. The place I go is flexible – I don’t have to say what hours or days I’ll be there. I just have a key and turn up.

  7. First, the work space sounds so nice! At the moment I like my quiet house 😉 After a while, though, when the shine wears off, I imagine it would be best to force myself to get out of the house, dressed and undistracted by clutter. Depending on the fee, though 😉 Second, Congrats on all your success with Naked Swiss! So exciting. Although, if I were your publisher, I would yell at you for burying the lede and not making your successes its own separate blog post. You’ve got to keep this stuff in the limelight. Put that stuff in the headline! You deserve it! Woooo hoooo!!!

    1. Thanks Tara. You’re probably right. I don’t want to have too many ‘look at me and my book’ posts but that was one bit of news that could have stood alone. Burying the lead – big crime!

  8. I’m glad you’re having such success with your book. Congratulations!
    Since I live alone, I don’t have any distractions at home, but I do miss the kind of interaction that takes place between coworkers. Working in a coffee shop for a while is one solution, but I can see that co-working would have many advantages, especially over a chocolate shop.

Leave a Reply