Forget the sun lounger, the hottest accessory next summer could be a desk at a coworking space.
With the summer season now over, the coastal city of Zadar in Croatia is taking stock of the emerging post-pandemic trends.
Croatians and overseas visitors arrived as usual to enjoy the beaches this year, but what was different this time was that many people stayed for longer periods, and often with their families, as they took full advantage of being able to work from anywhere.
To some extent the local municipality has been ahead of the curve in accommodating them, providing free or affordable co-working spaces, thanks in part to an active IT community and digital nomad visas, and this type of government intervention is set to spread throughout Europe. The problem is summer hotspots don't really have the right type of accommodation.
Zadar had a headstart due to a well established coworking space called Coin, set up several years ago with backing from European funds, while another hub was developed as part of a cross-border project with nearby Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Montenegro. In fact, most coworking spaces in Croatia are publicly run.
“This summer, a lot of people came from abroad. They were heavy users of the coworking spaces,” said Franjo Pehar, assistant professor at the University of Zadar. "They want to to get rid of the children and the noise of the beach, so they use the facilities as a quiet place," he added.
Pehar is currently involved with developing another co-working space, which will be privately funded but operated by the university alongside the municipality. It's larger than Coin, at 2,500 square meters, and will include a business incubator. Students will benefit from mixing with entrepreneurs from around the world.
Several Croatian towns along the coast now offer government-run coworking spaces, and three real e