Since the pandemic, it has become more common for companies to attract "work from home" in recruitment advertisements, especially in IT, recent surveys show.

Some companies have been built completely without offices.

Like the video conferencing service Hopin, which has grown at record speed during the pandemic from six to over 600 employees in two years and today is valued at over SEK 50 billion.

"Telework enabled us to recruit from a global talent pool, which is essential if you are to grow so fast," founder Johnny Boufarhat told the BBC when interviewed - remotely - from his temporary home in Barcelona.

Boufarhat is a digital nomad who moves around and works where he feels like it.

At the big tech fair Slush in Helsinki in early December, which after a pandemic of digital attendance now gathered close to 9,000 people in an exhibition hall, there was a cow release in the tech factory with spontaneous meetings, mingling and speed dating between entrepreneurs and investors.

Like an Almedalen in Silicon Valley.

Digital meeting tools in all glory, but the tech people appreciated being seen in real life again.

"A community"

"This is more than transactions, it's like a community building things together," explains Timo Ahopelto, a tech investor who also sits on Slush's board.

And on the new business campus Maria01 in Helsinki, CEO Ville Simola also emphasizes the importance of the personal contact IRL: "Our goal is to help startups grow, and it is difficult if you are completely online".

In our own tech capital Stockholm, I meet Erik Engellau-Nilsson, CEO of Norrsken, who makes a historical comparison with the Roman Forum and the ancient Greeks' Agora when he explains why in 2021 their business idea is to gather entrepreneurs physically in one place: "The point is to exchange experiences, learn from each other… you might run into someone at the coffee machine and talk about a problem you have."

Water cooler effects

That's right, the coffee machine.

In the US, they have their "water cooler".

One of the most tenacious management philosophies is that of the value of the spontaneous meetings that occur at the office landscape's water pump.

When Apple's co-founder Steve Jobs was CEO of Pixar, he designed the office as a place to promote meetings and unplanned collaborations.

Coffee was given a - in every sense - central role.

Anyone who knows how to create a digital coffee machine that works as well as the one you need to refill your coffee in, can start the next 50 billion companies.

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