The number of remote employees is constantly on the rise. Studies show that working away from the office boosts employees’ morale, increases productivity and lowers the employee-turnover. Working remotely doesn’t always mean working from home though. New non-office solutions have been appearing over the years, from co-working spaces to organised freelancing escapes. Anti-cafes are a Russian solution to the workspace conundrum which has been taking the world by storm. What are they though?
Anti-cafes are establishments where people can have as much tea, coffee, lemonade and biscuits as they please while paying for the time spent there per minute. The idea was born in Moscow, where, in 2010, a writer Ivan Mitin opened Dom Na Dereve (Tree House), a direct ancestor of all anti-cafes.
Back in the day, Mitin was involved in the Pocket Poetry Project: a group of city activists printed and laminated short poems and planted them across the city for random passers-by to find and put in their pockets. The group struggled to find a space to work: the waiters in cafes were not very approving, a new place had to be found each time, the inconveniences were many. That’s when Mitin decided to rent a little attic space in the centre of Moscow and opened to everybody for any donation they saw fit or could afford.
Dom Na Dereve very soon turned out to be too small to meet the demand for a creative space, so a search for new premises began. The two rooms in an old building on Pokrovka were perfect, but also quite pricey, hence the economic relationship with the guests had to be somehow formalised. The per-minute payment started off as a joke but soon turned out to be a perfectly implementable solution: and hence Ziferblat, the very first anti-cafe, was born.