A former kindergarten on Grímsey island in North Iceland is being converted into a coworking facility for temporary remote workers, RÚV reports. The facility is the brainchild of the Grímsey Women’s Association, whose chairperson believes the island is an ideal place for people to take a break from the stresses of everyday life.
The new facilities, which are supported by an ISK 500,000 [€3,473; $3,795] grant from a local development fund, are located in the Múli Community Center. The center was previously home to the local kindergarten; but there hasn’t been any schooling on the island since 2019.
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The members of the Women’s Association are in the process of painting, installing parquet flooring, and buying furniture and desks for the new space. The facilities are intended to suit a wide range of remote workers, says Women’s Association chair Karen Nótt Halldórsdóttir, “whether you’re involved in some sort of remote work…or possibly an artist who’s writing a book or something like that—I think people will be able to use it in all kinds of ways.”
Grímsey, which is part of the mainland town Akureyri in North Iceland, is located roughly 40 km [25 mi] offshore. The petite island, a mere 5.3 km2 [2.0 mi2], is home to 57 people (not all of whom live there year-round) and “one million seabirds.” The locals are largely employed within the fishing and fish processing industries, although tourism is increasingly important to the island’s economy. Tourists trek to Grímsey to admire the local puffin population, drink in the 24-hour sunlight in the summer, or golf or drink a shot of brennivín within the Arctic circle (the island is the only part of Iceland that straddles this line). The island boasts its own grocery store, restaurant, post office, and indoor swimming pool, as well as two guesthouses.
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The remote work facility is the islanders’ latest effort to rejuvenate the local economy, reverse steady emigration from the island, and encourage people to stay — even if just for a short time. Life necessarily moves slower on a small, remote island, but while this may not present much attraction for people thinking about resettling there, this slower pace of life, is precisely the draw for burned-out workers. Says Karen: “I really think this is going to be fantastic for people who are stressed every day, people who are able to go out to an island and disconnect a bit.”