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Saturday, May 28, 2022

Co-working Spaces And Digital Nomads In The Arctic

Have you ever heard of Þingeyri in the Westfjords of Iceland? Approximately 260 people live there. How about Tangstad in the Lofoten Islands of Norway? Not many people there either. You would be surprised to find coworking spaces there, because – why? Most of the population within reach would not need one. Yet, new coworking spaces are popping up in these remote places as well as the Faroe Islands and Greenland. Why is this?

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I am the co-founder of Arctic Coworking Lodge in Lofoten. Back in June 2018, we opened our freshly refurbished coworking & co-living space. When we saw that remote working was on the rise, we figured that Norway did not have space specifically designed for the location-independent worker. We decided to change that.

As rookie entrepreneurs, this was a perfect project in the perfect location. The big focus for us was to create good hosts and meeting lots of inspiring people. Which we certainly did. It was a very rewarding process. We learned a lot from hosting mastermind sessions with the various people staying and seeing the guests first reaction to the majestic Lofoten Islands reminded us why we are doing this.

At the Arctic Coworking Lodge, the regular crowd is made of digital nomads. They come to explore the world’s most beautiful chain of islands, and they stay because of the community.

This is usually people that lead a location-independent lifestyle, traveling around the world while working full time on their computer. They are often a slow-traveling bunch that spends weeks to months in a location if they like it.

Maybe this lifestyle is a bit extreme for many, but with some planning, most of us can get a taste of that freedom. Digital nomad or not, the Coworking Lodge is for everyone wanting to change up their regular routine.

How We Make a Difference

After running for a few months we were contacted by Arnar Sigurðsson and Haukur Sigurdsson who manage the Blue Bank coworking space in Þingeyri, Iceland. They told us about the North Atlantic Cooperation Fund (NORA) and asked if we wanted to apply for funds to expand our reach in collaboration. Being a start-up we couldn’t refuse an opportunity like that.

NORA was very interested in supporting our projects. This is because we are bringing digital nomads to these remote communities, and this lights a fire under industries that have been stagnant in the Arctic communities for the last decades. The result of this cooperation is a brand new venture called Arctic Digital Nomads.

I asked Arnar from the Blue Bank about how we could work together to make a difference for our communities, and he said this:

“Many communities in the Arctic region are economically based on natural resources such as fishing. The young typically move south to seek higher education, and after that, they don’t find suitable careers opportunities back home. This is creating an imbalance in the population between the generations.

The region, however, offers a unique lifestyle, both in terms of the human connection that you get in these small and remote communities, but also the stunning natural beauty and freedom it entails.

By attracting digital nomads, people who travel and work through their laptops, we hope to build small but vital ecosystems in these areas based around creative industries, technology, and similar fields. This adds diversity to the economy and new opportunities for young people.”

The team behind Arctic Coworking Lodge is originally from the southern part of Norway. Only after we moved here we truly understood how amazing this place is. It just keeps on blowing your mind, even when you think you have seen it all. The accessibility to nature is as simple as stepping out of your house. In our lunch break we can:

  • Surf at Norway´s best surf spot
  • Explore the awesome mountains
  • Go climbing or bouldering in nature
  • Go fishing 
  • Go free diving, and more.

All within a 10-minute drive. Not many coworking places allow you to do all this.

Lofoten seems to be an Eldorado for every type of outdoor activity. Try to search the web for “(your favorite activity) Lofoten”, and there is bound to be something nearby. And of course, if your job or hobby is to create photography or videography content, there is no better place to do this than in between the fjords and mountains of Lofoten. 

Plus, you will get:

  • Comfortable coworking space with fast internet.
  • Affordable long term accommodation in the midst of nature.
  • A social community where both locals and digital nomads work and hang out.
  • Plenty of activities to inspire you when you are not working
  • The most beautiful and accessible nature you can imagine.
  • Northern lights, midnight sun and magical views from your office chair, and much more.

There is no need to “cramp” ourselves in big cities when we can all be a part of the remote work revolution. We think this is the ultimate win-win. Coworking spaces can provide unforgettable experiences and inspiration through their communities and the surrounding nature. Digital nomads and other location-independent workers can provide a much-needed boost to locals – by showing that it is possible to make a living and work from anywhere you want.

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Haukur Sigurdsson from the Blue Bank grew up in the far corners of Iceland. Just like nearly all his friends, he moved away after high school – but then he came back.

Why did he return?

Haukur Sigurdsson

“For many years I was very focused on exploring “exotic” countries. I lived for 3 years in South America and traveled extensively in Africa and India. But after a while, I started to realize that the northern latitudes are equally exciting – and perhaps more fitting for my character.

After being away for 10 years I realized that the adventures I was seeking all the time, like skiing, kayaking, surfing, and biking, were all very accessible in the place I grew up in. So I moved back to the Westfjords. Still living an exciting and sometimes adventurous lifestyle, but now with a family.

I love living at a place where I have the fjord on one side of my house and a mountain on the other. I enjoy living in a tight community where I get to interact with people of all ages on a daily basis.”

If you are considering the Arctic region as a place to live and work from, feel free to join our Facebook group Arctic Digital Nomads – where we publish updates on the project as well as provide the opportunity to share travel advice. There you will also see the latest news from the first coworking projects in Greenland and the Faroe Islands. See you there!

Rolf Oftedal

This is a guest post from Rolf Oftedal, Co-Founder of Arctic Coworking Lodge. Check out the website & see how you can participate here: Arctic Coworking Lodge.  

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