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Last Tuesday, after a late meeting, I decided to open the laptop for a while, instead of driving into a traffic jam. So, at 18.30 hours I was still working at Tribes Utrecht Papendorp, when our hostesses locked up the public entrance, said ‘see you tomorrow', and I was left alone. After 18.30 hours, you can of course still leave the building, but you can only come in with a Tribes membership card. Members can walk in and out, and I wish everyone who walks by a nice evening. But the visitors of Fit20, the fitness in our location, have no membership card, and the personal trainer opens the door for them.

Around 19.00 hours a middle-aged man knocked on the door. I looked around and saw that personal trainer Daphne was busy with another training. So, I got up and let the man into the building, who indicated that he was a little too early for his training, which was set at half past eight. He took a seat at the table in front of me, and I saw him looking around when he asked: ‘Do you happen to know where we are here, sir?’ 

I thought very quickly; of course I can tell him all about Tribes, but I can also go ‘undercover’ to find out what is going on in his mind.... So I gave him the following answer: ‘I think it's called Tribes, but I don't know what that is...’. He picked up his phone, and navigated directly to our website. After a brief scan, he said: 'oh, but this is very interesting, it's about flexible working’. I was curious about his opinion on that subject, and asked him for more explanation. He continued: ‘As it happens, I'm looking for new office space for my own company, and I am increasingly convinced that flexible working is the solution to my needs. Here, I see on the site that Tribes offers offices, workplaces, business addresses and meeting rooms’.

Meanwhile I realized that our website is filled with campaign images, for which I posed as a tribal person myself… But he didn't notice that I feared my exposure, and apparently he didn't spend too much time looking at the photographs on the website, because he's continued: ‘I do not know whether you are an entrepreneur, but do you know that as a company you can save a lot of money by choosing flexible, rather than conventional rentals?, It’s actually a generally accepted misconception that flexible working spaces are more expensive than an owned office building. Nowadays more and more employees are working outside the office, or are on their way to meetings. For my own business, I am thinking of a permanent office with 20 flexible workplaces. In that way, our back-office has its own space, and my field staff can come in when it suits them, and I don't pay any unnecessary costs for them. Beautiful solution right?

But he is not finished yet: 'and just think about how attractive you become as an employer. This is a nice space, and I see on the site that all Tribes locations are apparently based on an indigenous tribe - hence those pictures, do you see?’, while pointing to the business addresses. So all those locations look different, but feel the same! And within opening hours you will be welcomed by a hostess who will provide you, your staff and your guests with a 5-star service. And this is really great; they say ‘Tribes is People' on the website! That is interesting, sir, because that is what it is all about. Not for me, but for my staff and my guests. They all come here for my company. So they are the ones that have to feel comfortable.

I was speechless for a moment. If I had been an entrepreneur with my own office building, this man would have convinced me to move to a flexible office space immediately. He stands up and walks around, towards the tribal table where there is still a big poster with the campaign image of Utrecht Papendorp: a picture of me, rowing in a canoe like the Secoya. The man stops, looks at the image, looks at me, and looks back again. He didn’t knew what to say. And neither did I.

At that very moment I am saved by Daphne, who opens the door behind me and calls him: 'Are you ready for it, Jochem?’

Jochem; if you read this: I have really enjoyed our conversation, and if you would like to take a tour through Tribes Utrecht Papendorp, please contact Marjolein van Eck, +31 6 31 31 06 77 21, or! 

PS: this fantastic location is also nominated for the ‘Best Coworking Space Award’ in Utrecht! Will you also vote via


Opening Tribes Utrecht from Tribes on Vimeo.