We caught up with the four co-founders of Tadah, a coworking space in Zürich with a focus on compatibility not just for remote professionals, but for parents. As working moms with established and fruitful careers, Sarah Steiner, Julia Cebreros, Klara Zürcher, and Diana Wick decided to open Tadah in 2019 to give people the possibility to achieve an ideal mix between their private and professional lives.
Learn more about these four founders’ journey to establishing Switzerland’s first coworking space with childcare, and how their mission of compatibility between work and family life has taken hold in our latest interview.
First, tell us a little bit about you. What is your background?
SARAH STEINER: I am Sarah and I am one of the four co-founders of Tadah and also take on the role of CEO. I am a journalist by training and have experience both in the media industry as well as in the private sector (I was head of marketing and communication in different SMEs and have co-conceived and edited a weekly newspaper at FIFA).
JULIA CEBREROS: I’m Julia, co-founder and designer of Tadah. As former art director and brand designer I’m responsible for the brand and interior design, as well for social media, marketing and HR. I’m a mother of a 2.5 years old girl and so proud of what we created with Tadah. By the way: my daughter is kind of part of the inventory of the kids space and loves being here.
KLARA ZÜRCHER: My Name is Klara and I am one of four co-founders of Tadah, a coworking space with childcare. I grew up in Switzerland. My mother being Canadian, I decided to go to University in Canada where I lived for five years before returning to Zürich. I studied Economics and Marketing and in the past worked as a Project and Account Manager in communications.
DIANA WICK: My name is Diana. As I am a mother of two and a former copywriter and creative director in the advertising industry, I know exactly what I am talking about when it comes to compatibility, and moreover, the lack thereof.
How did you first discover coworking?
KLARA ZÜRCHER: By founding my own space. To be honest, before that I did not consider coworking for myself as the advertising industry used to be pretty archaic and expected you to be present at the office during working hours.
How did the idea for Tadah first come about?
SARAH STEINER: After having my child, it dawned on me that achieving compatibility of your family and career is extremely difficult in Switzerland and not much is being done to improve it. Especially for women, having a child often means sacrificing your career. On the other hand, many men would like to be more active fathers but are not supported by their employers. And because I am the type of person who prefers taking initiative over complaining, I decided to work on changing the system.
The fact that I met three great women who were willing to sit in this startup boat with me was a huge stroke of luck. Together, we achieved a lot.
Initially we founded our magazine, tadah.ch, and wrote about compatibility in order to drive and inspire others. We quickly wanted to do more and founded the first coworking space with flexible childcare in Switzerland.
Besides that we have been able to prove that coworking and flexible childcare can be combined successfully and that flexible childcare is indeed possible and beneficial for all parties. Apart from that, we proved everybody wrong who told us that it is impossible to build a successful startup as mothers with small children.
What was your mission for Tadah from the outset?
KLARA ZÜRCHER: Our mission was always to empower parents. We wanted to enable them to have a fulfilling career and family life. By offering them an inspiring place to work with flexible childcare nearby, parents can work when work needs to be done and spend more time with their children. In order to make a true difference regarding diversity and inclusion, the system needs to be changed.
In the end, everyone profits: children get to spend more quality time with their parents, parents have less mental load to bear, and companies profit from more productive and satisfied employees, a higher success rate in the war for talents, increased employee retention, and so much more.
In the beginning it was really “only” a flexible childcare and working space. Today, it is so much more. Compatibility of work and family life is a matter of the heart on the one hand and a social necessity on the other. Today, we are a platform for compatibility. Everything we do, we do to give people the possibility to achieve an ideal mix between their private and professional lives. We consult companies and create measurable compatibility strategies. In this way, we generate additional impact where it is really needed – directly within the companies.
How would you describe the community at your coworking space?
DIANA WICK: Besides the obvious target audience, parents, we cater to anyone wanting to work in an inspiring and beautiful environment. We immersed ourselves in the topic of new work and thus offer work space solutions for everyone—from freelancers to corporates. Our community consists of individuals as well as small companies and startups. Our goal is to create a home away from home for them, where they love spending time and can produce their best work.
What other unique elements make Tadah stand out?
JULIA CEBREROS: Our high quality standards are reflected in our level of service, our design, our furniture — high quality office furniture by Kinnarps — and our attention to detail. We try to cater to as many individual needs as possible, be it by offering the more standard items such as additional screens and phone booths or more individual services such as homemade birthday cakes for our members, motivational cards and notes, or simply a coworker’s favorite tea.
We offer a wide range of events, coaching sessions and employ the two best community managers who are so valued by everyone coming to our space.
In your experience, what are the key characteristics of the coworking scene in Zurich?
SARAH STEINER: Zürich might be the biggest city in Switzerland, but it’s still very small on an international scale. Nevertheless, we have a lot of coworking spaces in the city. In addition to the large providers, which also exist internationally, there are many smaller spaces for specific target groups. Switzerland is a very heterogeneous country, Zürich a very multicultural city—the coworking scene here probably reflects just that.
A new trend we are noticing is that coworking is becoming much more mainstream due to the pandemic. We are seeing people considering coworking spaces, who may previously have not even been able to work from home. This is making coworking spaces in Zürich even more interesting: an even wider variety of people from various industries who meet up and can inspire one another.
As the first coworking spaces with childcare in Switzerland, why was it important to you to include this additional service for members?
KLARA ZÜRCHER: Because flexible childcare does not really exist in Switzerland even though so many companies demand flexibility from their employees. Also, for freelancers and small companies, being flexible is crucial.
Up until now, everyone just kind of ignored this and left parents to fend for themselves at high costs for everyone involved. We were sure that there must be a different way, one that does not negatively impact the children but is even beneficial to them. And ”Tadah,” we were right: when someone starts to push boundaries, others join.
We suddenly see traditional childcare institutions consider more flexible options. We see companies realizing that parents are an asset and that the future is not bright if you choose to ignore our changed society where two working parents are the norm. And we receive so much positive feedback and gratitude from our members and the children we care for.
What are three key ingredients for operating a successful coworking space?
DIANA WICK: Value your team; you need the best people to be outstanding. (Luckily we have the best ones!) Stay flexible, agile, and open-minded. Invest in your community—they are not only your customers, they are a part of your family.
How did the consequences of COVID-19 impact your business?
JULIA CEBREROS: It was/is harsh, but in true Tadah manner, we decided to focus on the positive and learn from the negative. Even if this may sound trite: crises are always opportunities. COVID-19 has changed society for good. Of course, this also has an impact on the way we work and live, or how we want to work and live. The compatibility of work and family is becoming increasingly important. This is where we come in. And we are here to stay.
What changes have you made to make things safer and more efficient for members post-COVID-19?
SARAH STEINER: We have implemented a safety and protection strategy—in accordance with national safety regulations. This applies to both the Coworking and the Kids Space.
We rearranged our space to ensure distancing between all workstations. Masks are to be worn at all times, except for when eating/drinking or when working in an enclosed space within our space. We air the space hourly and disinfect the surfaces.
Do you have any advice for someone wanting to open their own coworking space?
KLARA ZÜRCHER: Be aware that a coworking space is so much more than just a room with tables and chairs in which people work. Operating a coworking space is a people’s business. And where there are people, there are also sensitivities. You have not only to be able to deal with them, you must love them!
Avoid being just another coworking space. Define your brand—what is your niche? What is your USP?
How would you like people to remember your coworking space?
JULIA CEBREROS: As a place that makes them feel at home without the laundry piles and dirty dishes. As a place where you leave inspired and energized and cannot wait to come back to.