It is awfully quiet in the Microlab’s lone self-employed coffee corner.
These are hard times for these people. Declining income, dwindling work, and that gnawing question at the back of the mind – how long is this crisis going to last? While in the meantime, fixed costs continue increasing.
An excellent reflection of the times these self-employed people are facing can be found in the Microlab business collective building in Strijp S. Normally, this building is a vibrant biotope brimming with mingling, drinks, and cooperation. But in this ‘corona time’, the former Philips building has a forlorn air about it.
Hardly anyone around
On floors usually occupied by a hundred people, now only a handful of people are at work. The rest are at home, with or without work, waiting for better times. One of the people still walking around is Robin Poppelaars.
He designs and builds stands for national and international trade shows – a ‘corona-sensitive’ business. “Things started changing from the end of February. One after other, the fairs got cancelled. And that dried up the work for me.”
Poppelaars is still in the Microlab to clean up a bit and keep contact with his clients. The uncertain future worries him, but, mentally, he is still holding his own. “Fortunately, I have a buffer, which allows me to keep this up for a while. We will have to deal with it.”
Luuk Visser, the Microlab’s founder, does not like the silence in the building. “Microlab exists thanks to people’s personal communication with each other. It is a kind of personal physical encounter; the chat at the coffee machine, the reception, the ping-pong table.”
“That is not possible for the time being. We do visit each other digitally, but that does not make up for everything,” he concludes.
Translator: Chaitali Sengupta, who gives Inburgering classes in Meerhoven. Click here for more info.
Editor: Melinda Walraven