Co-Work Culture, Is Chile ready for it?

Sell me a beer and a good time if we are going to have that attitude instead of a free and quiet workspace to enjoy a cup of coffee....

As an entrepreneur and travel addict, I love going to different spaces to work. It’s not always a Co-work space, it can be a library, a small cafe, a museum, just a place that has free wifi and maybe a good cup of coffee. I personally use about 3-4 different places during the week to enjoy a cup of coffee and occasionally a quick session of “people watching” before focusing back on my work.  For the past 4 months, I have been visiting different spaces in Santiago and have had lots of time to observe, work, meet other remote workers.

However, working in these free spaces with good WIFI comes with a price. People will be a little bit louder, meetings will happen in open spaces, people will munch on loud crackers right next to you, and you might not find a plug to charge your computer.  But the question I want to ask, where do you draw the line?

Let me give you an example:

Last week I visited the Santander Work/Cafe in the Manuel Montt location. This was my first time at this particular located but I’ve visited at least 5 other locations and quite enjoy work that these cafes. Unfortunately, I did NOT like this location.  The music was extremely loud, babies were crying, children were running around, and I couldn’t even place a call because I couldn’t hear myself think. For an hour I was able to use one the meeting rooms but it just made the situation bearable.

Being outspoken as I am, I couldn’t just sit there and not be productive. I had a million things to finish. I reached out to the front desk and the coffee shop, and to summarize what took about 30 minutes of explaining the importance of noise levels, types of music, and productivity  led to 4 blank expressions from the people working there and repeating the same sentence: “There is nothing we can do because this music, playlist, noise level, is standard throughout all Santander Work/Cafe in Santiago.”

So that got me thinking. I immediately knew that the sentence wasn’t true and it was just a sad attempt at getting me to just deal with the noise. Like I mentioned before, I’ve visited several Santander Work/Cafe location and have never had this issue. Then I thought if it is true, why do they think this acceptable behavior? How can anyone be productive when Michael Jackson’s Thriller is blasting through the speaker and the baristas are laughing at the meme they just saw on Instagram. Sell me a beer and a good time if we are going to have that attitude instead of a free and quiet workspace to enjoy a cup of coffee.

This experience leads me to my question to you. Do you think that Chile is ready for this Cafe/work style approach to business? I reached out to several Facebook groups that exist for startups in Chile and Expats living in Chile and I mostly got “No Chile isn’t ready”, “you should go to fill in the blank co-work space” or “That’s the way Chile is so you should just get used to it” answers that only semi-help me understand more about the attitudes towards these spaces.

I’m not asking for peace and quiet, I’m asking for respect. Mutual respect for all the people who use these types of spaces to work whether it’s for 30 minutes or the entire day. You never know why these people are using these spaces. It could be because they are killing time between meetings, creating the next “big” idea or simply just stopping to work their remote job before exploring the city. My general opinion is: Don’t offer the product/service if you can’t carry out the original purpose of the space. Don’t give me the excuse of “This is Chile” as a negative sentence when it comes to customer service.

Be better than that. Let’s give the sentence “This is Chile” a makeover and something that we can be proud of instead of its beautiful destinations. Only you, the people who live here, can change that.

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Andrea has been living in Chile since 2010 and she loves to eat Pastel de Choclo. Traveling and people watching are her two favorite things to do. She has no plans on leaving Chile any time soon.

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