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WORKING IN GERMANY

6 Berlin cafes and co-working spaces to escape the home office

So much of public life has reopened in Germany this summer, but lots of people are still doing their work from home. Many of us are itching for a change of scene, writes Sophie Shanahan.

6 Berlin cafes and co-working spaces to escape the home office
Freelancers gather to work in Cafe St. Oberholz in Berlin-Mitte. Photo: picture alliance / dpa | Kay Nietfeld

After months of working from home, I had got fairly fed-up with the only variation in my working environment being the move from my cluttered desk to the kitchen table. Now that indoor dining has reopened in Germany’s capital, albeit with the need for a negative Covid test or proof of vaccination, I have been taking every opportunity to escape my home office. 

READ ALSO: German word of the day: Der Freiheitsdrang

I have spent my week exploring some of the best cafés and work spaces around Berlin and drinking many an oat-milk Cafe Latte along the way. The city really has a lot to offer, from cosy, sofa-filled coffee shops to modern, industrial co-working spaces. I’ve put together a guide to some of my favourites, to show you that there really is a work space for whatever mood you are in. 

St. Oberholz, Zehdenicker Str. (Prenzlauer Berg)

With a few locations across the city, St. Oberholz is a café-cum-workspace. In the Zehdenicker branch, you will find a modern looking coffee shop on the ground floor with great access to single tables, plug sockets and reliable wifi. There are also some really delicious looking cakes on offer. If you need a quieter space to work in, you can pay a few Euros to gain entry to the co-working spaces upstairs. These are really useful if you need to make video calls or prepare for a big presentation, and really replicate an office environment. 

 
 
 
 
 
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A post shared by St.Oberholz Coffee (@sankt.coffee)

Laidak, Boddinstrasse (Neukölln) 

Laidak is a slightly less manicured choice to spend your work day in. This coffee shop slowly transitions into a bar in the evenings and has the feel of a cosy, low lit pub. There aren’t many plugs around, so make sure you come with your laptop fully charged if you need it.  The feel of the café is really relaxed, so the staff will generally leave you alone and not mind if you want to while away a few hours working there. Laidak is fairly social, so it may not be the best choice if you want a table all to yourself – be prepared to share your space a little. 

 
 
 
 
 
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A post shared by Veronika Písková (@veronikapiskova_)

Geschwister Nothaft, Sonnenallee (Neukölln)

Directly opposite the Sonnenallee S-Bahn station you will find the Geschwister Nothaft café. The word COFFEE is printed three times in giant letters above the entrance, so it is pretty hard to miss. The café is vast and inviting, with sofas, communal tables and even school-style single desks to work from. The staff here clearly know that this is a favourite spot for freelancers and students, as there are plugs and extension cables throughout, as well as free wifi. The coffee and food here are great selling points too, and you can easily find vegetarian and vegan options. There’s no need to feel uncomfortable staying here for hours on end, just make sure you buy a drink or a slice of cake every now and then.

The Visit, Adalbertstraße (Kreuzberg)

The Visit has a number of branches across the city, from Charlottenburg to Kreuzberg. The Adalbertstraße coffee shop is a little tricky to find at first, as it’s tucked back from the main street. It is worth seeking out though, especially if you want a traditional coffee shop atmosphere to work in. Your nostrils will be filled with the smell of roasting coffee beans as you get down to your daily tasks. Luckily the place is filled with plugs and comfy chairs so that you can relax into your working day. You’ll most likely be surrounded by lots of other people tapping away at their laptops, and it seems like a real favourite for local freelancers. 

 
 
 
 
 
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A post shared by The Visit Coffee Roastery (@thevisitcoffeeroastery)

Huadou Soy Concept Store, Linienstraße (Mitte)

This is a slight wildcard, and you may be a little intimidated by this café when you first come across it. The whole idea of the Huadou coffee shop in Mitte is that every item on the menu in some way embraces the humble soybean. From soy lattes to brownies, and even soy sauce ice cream, this is somewhere to head if you fancy a bit of an adventure during your working day. The café is pretty laptop-friendly, and the whole shop is minimalistic and beautifully designed. Not only can you get some work done in a serene environment, you can also try some of the cafés culinary creations throughout the day. 

 
 
 
 
 
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A post shared by Natural Vegan Café (@huadou.cafe)

Coffee Circle Café, Lindower Straße (Wedding)

This café is probably one of the best to work in if you’re a real coffee lover. They roast their own coffee here and have an almost endless list of beans and roasts to choose from, as well as a selection of pastries and cakes. The shop is airy and bright and there is loads of space, so you’ll rarely be stuck for a table. There is even a dedicated area upstairs for people working on laptops. There are also lots of outdoor tables to work from on a sunny day, and the atmosphere both inside and out is always pretty laid back, so it shouldn’t be too hard to get down to work. 

 
 
 
 
 
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A post shared by Estelle | Tokyo 2016-2017 🇯🇵 (@le_polyedre)

If you are looking for any other work-friendly spaces in your area, the website Laptop Friendly shows all the best cafés for getting some work done in the city. You can filter the results by whether there is wifi, if there are lots of plugs around, and even how loud the environment is.

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WORKING IN GERMANY

How easy is it to get an English-speaking job in Germany?

Lots of foreigners in Germany hope to get a job or climb the career ladder. But are there still opportunities for English speakers who don't have fluent German? We spoke to a careers expert to find out.

How easy is it to get an English-speaking job in Germany?

The pandemic turned our lives upside down. As well as having to isolate and be apart from family members, many people found themselves in need of a new job or decided they want a change in career. 

If you’re in Germany or thinking of moving here, job searching is of course easier with German language skills. But many people haven’t had the chance to learn German – or their German isn’t fluent enough to work in a German-only environment.

So how easy is it to find a job in Germany as an English speaker?

We asked Düsseldorf-based career coach Chris Pyak, managing director of Immigrant Spirit GmbH, who said he’s seen an increase in job offers. 

“The surprising thing about this pandemic is that demand for skilled labour actually got even stronger,” Pyak told The Local.

“Instead of companies being careful, they’ve hired even more than they did before. And the one thing that happened during the pandemic that didn’t happen in the last 10 years I’ve observed the job market was that the number of English offers quadrupled.”

READ ALSO: How to boost your career chances in Germany

Pyak said usually about one percent of German companies hire new starts in English. “Now it’s about four percent,” said Pyak. 

“This happened in the second half of 2021. This is a really positive development that companies are more willing than they used to be. That said it’s still only four percent.”

Pyak said he’s seen a spike in demand for data scientists and analysts as well as project managers. 

So there are some jobs available, but can foreigners do anything else?

Pyak advises non-Germans to sell themselves in a different way than they may be used to. 

A woman works on her CV in Germany.

A woman works on her CV in Germany. Photo: picture alliance/dpa/dpa-tmn | Christin Klose

“In your home country you have a network, you have a company you used to work for that people know,” said Pyak. “This might be partly the case in Germany if you worked for an international company. But for most employers you are a blank sheet of paper, they know nothing about you. So unfortunately if they don’t know you or your country, they will assume you are worse (at the job) than Germans. It’s completely unjustified but it’s just how people are. 

“Get the employer to see you as the individual person you are, the professional you are. This requires that you have a conversation with somebody inside the company, ideally the decision maker, meaning the hiring manager or someone in this team.”

Pyak said it’s important to go into details. 

“Don’t think of me as a foreigner, think of me as ‘Mark who has been working in IT for 15 years’,” said Pyak. “Don’t read the job advert (to the manager), ask them what his or her biggest worry is and why is that important? And then dig deeper and offer solutions based on your work experience. Share actual examples where you proved that you can solve this problem.”

READ ALSO: 7 factors that can affect how much you’re getting paid

Pyak says foreigners in Germany can convince managers that they are right for the job – even if their German isn’t great. 

“What I advise clients at the beginning of the interview is to ask very politely if you can ask them (managers) a question. And this question should be: how will you know that I’m successful in this job, what is the most important problem I need to solve for you in order to make myself valuable? And then ask why this problem is so important. And the answer to that achieves a million things for you – first of all you’ve established a measurement by which you should be measured. 

“Then when you get into detailed discussion you can always tie your answer back to the question you can solve, which usually makes up 70 or 80 percent of the job. If you can solve this problem then what does it matter if you do the job in German or English?”

So in answer to our original question – it seems that getting an English-speaking job in Germany can’t be described as easy but it is very possible especially if you have the skills in your chosen field. Plus there are ways to increase your chances. Good luck! 

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