High-speed internet from fiber-optic networks, renewable energy generated by hydropower, a direct train to Zurich as well as plenty of available factory premises to work or to live in - and yet the picturesque mountains are right outside your office door: The canton of Glarus, part of the Greater Zurich Area, offers ideal conditions for the era of New Work. The Glarus region became an international stronghold of the textile industry in the 18th and 19th centuries, making it the most industrialized region in Switzerland. Its numerous time-honored factory buildings line the banks of the rivers Sernf and Linth, creating a scenery that is unique in Switzerland.
Where once the textile pioneers of Glarus flourished, startups and digital nomads now find space to thrive. In doing so, innovations from Silicon Valley are making their way to the valleys of Glarus. The pandemic is accelerating transformations in the work environment and giving a boost to remote work. More generous living spaces close to nature are increasingly becoming more popular.
Glarus co-working pioneer
Nico Schottelius is one of the first to take advantage of the trend of moving to the countryside. In 2014, the IT specialist from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH) in Zurich moved to Glarus, where he renovated a 19th-century house in Schwanden. This was given a new purpose as the "Digital Chalet" in 2015 - not only as the first co-working and co-living space in Glarus but also as the first house in the canton with a 1Gbit/s Internet connection.
Since then, startup founders, digital entrepreneurs, and software developers from all over the world are coming to the Digital Chalet. They find an inspiring work environment there: a peaceful place to focus and exchange ideas within a network of experts. Nico Schottelius welcomes customers and partner companies with his company "ungleich", which specializes in sustainable IT infrastructure and software solutions. In 2019, the "Hacking Hotel" opened in Glarus: Schottelius has transformed the vacant inn into a private IT school where bootcamps are held. Besides workshop, seminar and hacking rooms, it offers a shared kitchen and guest rooms. "We want people to be able to pick up a lot of IT knowledge in a short time," says Schottelius. He wants to contribute to Glarus becoming a digital hub with international appeal.
Next stop: «COCO»
The same vision is driving the makers of the co-working and co-living project "COCO". It will be built by mid-2022 in Linthpark Glarus Süd on the site of a former spinning mill in the southernmost part of the Glarus Valley, yet offering a direct connection to Zurich by public transport. Since the start of the transformation of the Linthpark in 2005, more and more companies have settled in this attractive working environment. The companies operating here are active in the fields of medicine, IT, and commerce to research and culture. COCO is expanding its network in the former spinning mill in Linthpark with startups and digital nomads. They can rent office space either on a short- or long-term basis. In addition, COCO's offer is aimed at SMEs and large companies looking for a place to retreat. Besides meeting and seminar rooms with a breathtaking view, COCO offers 50 state-of-the-art workplaces including a fast 20 Gbit/s internet. In addition, 29 generous living and sleeping rooms provide an exceptionally high level of comfort. COCO is rounded off by its own bistro and a rooftop bar run by gastro professionals. And guess what? Biking and hiking trails start right outside the front door. The mountain gondola takes you to the skiing region of Braunwald in seven minutes. "COCO unites nature, alpine scenery, work infrastructure, and quality of living in a unique way. When staying with us, professionals and tourists experience the canton of Glarus at its best - location marketing brought to perfection," explains Alexander Keller, Managing Director at COCO.
Digital transformation in the «werkhallen»
In Elektrolux's premises in the canton of Glarus, electronic household devices were manufactured for over a century. After production in the factories was stopped, a forward-looking coworking spirit took hold in 2020. The "werkhallen" not only offer a complete office and work infrastructure for immediate use for startups and young entrepreneurs: "We provide our members with direct access to a network of experts and potential partners and we help with financial and HR questions or organizational development," explains Daniel Sieber who runs the "werkhallen". This also includes a working space with 3D printers, compound materials, or chip removal machines. In this way, an idea can be turned into the first prototype in no time at all. The "werkhallen" support young entrepreneurs but also established SMEs with their digital transformation. In addition, professionals who are looking for a change in career can benefit from a wide range of support services, such as co-working infrastructures and placement offers.
The Digital Chalet, the Hacking Hotel, the project COCO, and the "werkhallen" are just four of the numerous co-working initiatives in the canton of Glarus. They contribute to ensuring that Glarus with its pioneering spirit as an "Alpine Working Hub" continues to write success stories in the 21st century.
Author: Christian Zehnder, Head of Location Promotion Canton Glarus
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