Digital nomadism is all the rage right now. Barely a day goes by where I don’t read something about someone who earns their daily bread while perched atop an elephant in Thailand or whatever it is this up-and-coming tribe does. ‘Working from the beach’ seems to be a common theme among these envy-inducing articles (although they never seem concerned about sand in the laptop).
Alongside the digital nomad trend, there is a corresponding rise in coworking spaces, which give our location-independent friends a desk to work at for as long as they’re in town. But there is a way to combine all that and pretty much one-up anyone who has ever worked anywhere.
The Coboat. It’s a coworking space. On a boat. I have to qualify at this point that it’s a nice, luxurious type of boat, rather than a rusty fishing trawler. “Welcome to Paradise,” proclaims the Coboat website.
Just think about the bragging rights for a moment. “You get free bananas in your office? Oh, that’s nice. My office is a boat which hops between South East Asia’s hotspots. Brb, snorkelling.” Basically, it’s a location-independent, Gen-Y hipster’s wet dream, and I’m not even finished telling you about it yet. It backs up that ‘paradise’ claim with plenty of photos of the sleek catamaran and the almost impossibly blue seas it will be sailing. Launching sometime in Spring 2016, the boat and it’s passengers will spend the year voyaging around South East Asia.
The Coboat is also very environmentally friendly, with the boat’s creators aiming for a zero carbon footprint. To that end, the original motors have been replaced with a brand new electric propulsion system. The boat will also take advantage of a presumably ready supply of wind and sunshine to generate power for itself.
Of course, it also offers everything necessary for people to actually, y’know, work. Primarily, in this day and age, that means an internet connection. While in port or close to shore, Coboat will tap into 3G/4G and WiFi connections, and when roaming further afield (asea?) a satellite-based connection will keep you online. That’s if you can focus on work. Guests will also have access to a range of watersport equipment and beach toys.
On the downside, you won’t get your own room. Each passenger (of up to 20) will get a bunk in a two-, three- or four-berth space, so be prepared to get cozy if you’re working on board. The currently 980-Euro-a-week ticket (prices will increase once the boat has set sail) also includes three meals a day, as well as non-alcoholic drinks. You’ll have to pay extra to get a buzz on.
When I spoke to the project’s co-founder, Gerald Schömbs, he admitted that Coboat is something of a “premium product on the digital nomad landscape” but pointed out that it’s very reasonable compared to coworking camps or regular sailing trips. For him, it’s the perfect project, combining experience in coworking with his passion for sailing. He told me: “I can put all my experiences together: scuba, photography, travel, sailing, plus networking and communication.” He also told me that the timing is right for the not-for-profit project, saying “costs for satellite internet are just coming down and getting affordable.” I guess that’s pretty key for coworkers who will be boarding the Coboat.
Gerald told me that they have sold “quite a few” tickets already, with an average stay of two weeks. I wondered if the novelty of the whole thing (“It’s coworking. But on a boat.”) might distract people from their work but Gerald told me that was the wrong way to look at it. “We call it a coworking space since that explains it pretty easily, but in fact, if you come on board, you should not hold onto your daily routines. By just doing your own work you would miss out on the many opportunities that the Coboat experience offers,” he said. “Imagine a multicultural group of like-minded creatives and techies, leaving behind their successful careers to embark on a voyage of discovery. It’s more about sharing, collaboration, getting feedback and inspiration.”
Looking at it that way made me think that it would be great to do as a team, sort of a combination between team event, holiday and work retreat. Brainstorm the hell out of your product and then take a selfie with an octopus. Although the Coboat might need to install a foosball/ping pong table to attract startuppers.
Right, I’m going to go and set up a Kickstarter for Cospaceship now.
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