Archivi categoria: Five Coworking Questions

Five questions to discuss and share :-) 1-Has your own life changed since you practice coworking? 2-Is coworking a commodity or a strategic option? After so many discussions, does businss rhymes with coworking? Considering the media craze and the flourishing of spaces, could coworking become a sort of bubble? What are your feelings about coworking as a public service?

The best coworking blogs in the world by the dozen (and all in the same place).

Best Coworking Blogs Google Search Coworking Cowo

Even if we are an Italy-based community, we’ve always tried to keep in touch with the bigger picture, as far as coworking and shared space is concerned.

That’s why we happen to make “open questions” to international coworking thinkers, that’s why we publish coworking presentations in English, that’s why, well, we try to write a few international posts now and then.

Besides, we also manage the International online Community NomadWork, now up to 635 people from all over the planet.

One good way to stay tuned with what happens in the rest of the coworking world is – of course – to read blogs.

Over the years, we have found that the following could be the best ones around (but, please, don’t get offended if you think we missed yours: we are far from being sure of our choice, and more than ready to include you in the list ;-)

  1. Global Coworking Blog – The mother of all coworking spaces (from the Us)
  2. Deskmag – All the news that’s fit to print on coworking (from Berlin)
  3. Dangereously AwesomeIndipendents’ Hall founder Alex Hillman personal blog (from Philadelphia, Us)
  4. Happy MonsterNew Work City‘s mayor Tony Bacigalupo writes here (NY)
  5. Mutinerie – News and rants from the Van der Broek frères in Paris
  6. Diary of a Mad FreelancerPrincess Jones from New York City reports
  7. Workbar – From Boston, Cambridge + a network of coworking spaces within companies (something like us)
  8. BetaCoworkRamon Suarez‘ coworking band rocks on in Brussels
  9. Plymouth CoworkingSabrina Simpson’s coworking activities in England
  10. Craig Baute’s Blog – Indipendent coworking thinker and consultant, founder of Density Coworking in Denver
  11. Worksnug – Connecting nomad workers with mobile technology, from London
  12. [Ha ha ha] Cowo

In case you are interested, we are now publishing a one-post feed from all of them on NomadWork home page, so we to be able to see at a glance what the important guys are up to :-)

Enjoy!

NomadWork: Coworking Cowo International Community

Cowo’s 5 questions to Coworking Europe. Antoine van den Broek’s 5 answers.

mutinerie coworking: antoine van den broekAntoine van den Broek is involved – with his brother Eric among the others – in the Mutinerie coworking initiative, in Paris, France. 

Mutinerie only had a space for a short time, they are actually a nomadic community, travelling at each others’ places. The space opening is planned for early 2012.

We are twice as glad to host his views because we had the chance to meet Antoine one year ago: he managed to stop visit Cowo’s founder for a good chat, while travelling in Italy.

It will be a pleasure to meet him again at the Berlin Coworking Conference 2011, the event planned to start in about 36 hours… on november 3rd.

Thank you Antoine for sharing your thoughts on Cowo’s 5 questions, and best of luck to the Mutinerie team!

COWO:

Has your own life changed since you practice coworking?

ANTOINE VAN DEN BROEK:

Ever since we were kids we’ve always been surrounded by lots of people and lived in a collaborative and sharing environment.

When we entered the corporate world, we missed that energy and those real relationships. We decided to launch a coworking space so we could chose who we want to work with in an attempt to unify our lives and to promote this way of being and working together.
Since then we’ve been talking with many inspiring people from all over the world. In fact we rarely travel anywhere without visiting the local coworking space, and we’ve learned a lot about community dynamics and collaborative organizations.

So yes our lives have changed since we started coworking.
And the ‘funny’ thing is that we only had a space for a short period; most of the time we’ve been working at each other’s places, in bars, parks, or in others’ coworking spaces.

We will likely open our new space in early 2012 and I am sure it’s going to be another interesting change for us.

COWO:

Is coworking a commodity (i.e. the chance to share an office with little money) or a strategic option (i.e. a platform for all kind of sinergies)?

A.V.D.B:

It is, above all, a strategic option.

It is a bet on the power of free and authentic relationships and it is a stance of openness to new encounters—even if not everyone sees it this way before experiencing it.
So, some people come for the commodity aspect, as there may be no real alternative to such cheap and flexible workplaces.

However, our duty as coworking managers is not only to fulfill our members’ needs by providing all the amenities of an efficient work environment, but also to go beyond this pragmatic level.
In an extreme sense, coworking can be seen as the inverse of a typical firm: Whereas a firm hires people to perform a precise and preordained task, a coworking space starts by bringing people together around common values, and from that, new projects begin to take shape.

In coworking, people are at the center of creativity and productivity.

COWO:

After all these years of discussing, I think we should know by now if business rhymes with coworking. Does it?
A.V.D.B:

Yes there is room for coworking as a business, whether it be spaces management, associated services, or some kind of expertise you can bring to others’ organizations.

Some initiatives will remain close to the initial values of the coworking movement, others less; people will be able to choose.

What’s most interesting is the unknown part of the business model: the unexpected is to be expected.

Coworking creates trust and there is no business without trust. It is a crucial asset. People are losing trust in many institutions these days.

If you are able to generate enough trust between people, if people really trust you, you may well be in a good position to do good business.
This implies being consistent with the values you claim and being able to understand profit not only in financial terms.

COWO:

Considering the media craze, the flourishing of spaces, the many online tools coworking-related and… why not,this conference itself, do you envision the risk of tranforming coworking in a sort of bubble, where a minority just trying to make money spoils the beauty of the idea, ultimately depriving the word coworking of its true meaning?

A.V.D.B:

A new term is coined when we need to express a new reality.

Then its meaning gets diluted as more and more people start adopting it to suit their own needs and understandings.
Eventually people may spend time trying to reclaim the ‘original’ sense of the term, but this can easily turn into a blind debate; semantic evolution is part of the term’s life.

Today we use “coworking” because we need a common flag to unify hundreds of local initiatives. Essentially it’s an accessible concept that’s big enough to unite likeminded people who might have the same intuition, and clear enough to attract newcomers.
In the future, the word “coworking” might be overused or misused in an opportunistic attempt to divert some of the juice that this word can bring, and some of its caché might fade away for that reason. But this is not such a big issue.

When the word “coworking” dies, it will most likely because this type of organization has become the norm.

In that case we would no longer talk about coworking spaces in general but more often about particular coworking spaces and their specific communities and achievements.
Each of us will then be able to choose the space that best fits our needs and expectations, without having to wonder whether it is or isn’t a true coworking space. And pioneers will need to move to a new frontier.

COWO:

What are your feelings about coworking as a public service, just like schooling or health services?

A.V.D.B:

Regarding the numerous benefits of coworking for a local community, and the growing numbers of nomadic workers, it makes sense to expect public institutions to be involved at some level in the sponsoring of coworking. In our current tough economic climate, it is crucial to unify and thus empower the energy of creative people willing to take risks.

In any case we have no choice: the way we work has changed, and the state would do well to take this under consideration.
We could then expect the crucial task of creating coworking spaces to be supported by government. But the establishment of hundreds of state-run spaces would contradict the essential idea, which is let each community decide how and where it wants to work.

One of the great things about a coworking space is that it’s a genuinely bottom-up organization and a unique, community-driven entity.

Thus, government would ideally provide subsidies to bootstrap various coworking projects and to sponsor some social initiatives associated with coworking spaces.
We recently had a chance to meet some officials in our region and we were glad to hear that this is exactly how they see their role.


Cowo’s 5 questions to Coworking Europe. Alberto Bassi’s 5 answers.

LAB121 bassiSometimes you start building a commmunity even before the coworking space actually opens its doors.

It’s what happens in Alessandria, Italy, where the lab121 group is warming up its future coworking community with events, seminars and meetups.

Alberto Bassi, co-founder of lab121 team, will take part in the first morning panel of the Coworking Conference 2011, in a few days in Berlin.

Awaiting to meet him in person, Cowo thanks him for answering the 5 questions.

COWO:

Has your own life changed since you practice coworking?

ALBERTO BASSI:

My life is not really changed, but I believe that has improved my way of working. In the coworking network I’m making useful contacts and I’ve done decisive steps in carrying out  those projects which which I had thought about for long. I go straighter into my business now.

COWO:

Is coworking a commodity (i.e. the chance to share an office with little money) or a strategic option (i.e. a platform for all kind of sinergies)?

A.B.:

The economic advantage of renting a temporary office is undeniable, and the strategic opportunity to work side by side with people with skills and expertise different from mine is the most significant advantage. Having a project you can find someone who helps you to develop it, and with a little luck also the buyers.

COWO:

After all these years of discussing, I think we should know by now if business rhymes with coworking. Does it?
A.B.:

Yes, the rhyme coworking-business works!! But How? Not intended as an immediate economic returns or immediate growth in turnover, but as professional collaboration between coworkers and customers from inside and outside the coworking centres.

COWO:

Considering the media craze, the flourishing of spaces, the many online tools coworking-related and… why not,this conference itself, do you envision the risk of tranforming coworking in a sort of bubble, where a minority just trying to make money spoils the beauty of the idea, ultimately depriving the word coworking of its true meaning?

A.B.:

I do not fear that coworking can become simply a way to make money by renting a desk. Why? becouse it cannot happen! it’s natural for people to socialize and interact, so even those who rent trivially a desk, will turn to professional collaborations. Lab121 is a nonprofit association that allows members to grow through co-working, so even without the desk the Alessandria coworkers find a way to connect and work!

COWO:

What are your feelings about coworking as a public service, just like schooling or health services?

A.B.:

I believe that the co-working is partly an evolution of the concept of cooperative learning, already applied in schools: this means that coworking should be a basic service!



Cowo’s 5 questions to Coworking Europe. Jean-Yves Huwart’s 5 answers.

jean-yves huwart

Jean-Yves Huwart is the organizer of the Coworking Europe Conference, both 2010 and 2011 editions.

As he himself states (see answer no. 1) the discovery of the “coworking spirit” at The Hub Brussels was a revelation for him.

From that point on, coworking has been his everyday professional state of mind.

As the organizer of two important events such as the conferences, he has accumulated a notably extensive view on coworking, in all aspects.

Awaiting to see him in Berlin in a few days, we thank Jean-Yves for sharing his points of views on the 5 questions asked by Cowo.

COWO:

Has your own life changed since you practice coworking?

JEAN-YVES HUWART:

Definitely. And in an unexpected way.

Like many, I used to be an employee. I was lacking challenges. Three years ago, then, I left my job to start a business of my own. The goal was to speak about the new way companies could organise themselves in a flatter way, using digital social platforms, creating a better collaborative culture and developing a more motivating working environment for the Gen X and Gen Y.

As a starting entrepreneur myself, I first tried to work from home. It was a nightmare. I was losing social contacts and my productivity dropped.

Then, a new coworking space opened up nearby, the Hub Brussels. It has been a kind of a revelation. I found for myself a new working experience which could fullfill my freshly discovered needs as a starter. Moreover, regarding my activities, Coworking appeared to me as a perfect tool and mindset to address the challenges of the economy of the 21st century, which needs more interconnected innovators and entrepreneurs, while the traditional corporation model will be forced to shift to a new paradigm embracing openess, collaboration, sustainability and human values.

That’s why we decided to organise a first international conference on the topic of coworking.

COWO:

Is coworking a commodity (i.e. the chance to share an office with little money) or a strategic option (i.e. a platform for all kind of sinergies)?

J. H.:

It can be both. 

For sure, it starts with the flexible model. For a pre-determined capacity (15, 20, 50 seats or more), 100, 150 or more members will likely sign up. This is the base for the community. If the tenants are there, first, for the purpose of having an office for cheap, so be it. It’s no big deal.  

Now, a coworking space can dramaticaly increase its outreach with events, facilitations, games open for non members. This generates traffic in and around the place. Eventually, hundreds of people can take part in the community via an online subscription to the newsletter and discussion on social network. 

In a classical office sharing environment, a pre-determined capacity give access to the related number of tenants or less. You meet the same people every day. This can ingrain a community spirit, of course, but never of the size and energy a genuine coworking space can support.

So, once the community is there, you have a platform to sprout almost anything: be a neutral spot for collaboration between third parties, host creative events, network with other communities localy or internationally, work as a gateway for other entrepreneurs, etc. 

COWO:
After all these years of discussing, I think we should know by now if business rhymes with coworking. Does it?
J. H.:

That is one of our goal at the Coworking Europe 2011 conference.

The first Coworking conference, in Brussels, last year, helped to connect the coworking movement and its players on the European and even on the global level. The coworking movement is enterning its teen age. Nowadays, we have all kinds of coworking spaces: self-supported by one or two people, added-on to another organisation, publicly funded… Other a real businesses…

However, we have heard a lot of coworking spaces stories which shut down because they relied too much on one individual who, after two of three years of operations, ended up exhausted.

I think no matter which model you choose. If the cash flows are too low to cover one person salary, at least (on top of the running cost such as the rent or the internet connection), the space won’t be sustainable. So, coworking can be a very good business, as some have already shown in Europe or in the US. The condition for that, though, is more professionalism.

COWO:

Considering the media craze, the flourishing of spaces, the many online tools coworking-related and… why not,this conference itself, do you envision the risk of tranforming coworking in a sort of bubble, where a minority just trying to make money spoils the beauty of the idea, ultimately depriving the word coworking of its true meaning?

J. H.:

We are at the beginning of a deep economical and cultural shift. 

Digital social platform are outdating the former way of coordinate teams. Innovation won’t remain forever in ghettos. Working people, especially the younger generations, demand their professional life to be fullfilling. Moreover, look at the movement of the Indignados in Europe or at the uprisings in the Arab world. Graduated people are struggling to get a first job. 

So, we know that in the future, more and more, we will have to create our own economical activity. For these reasons, my assumption is that we will need more coworking spaces around the world. As starters, freelance or even regular employees will more and more look for a human experience. So, the market will learn steadily to make the difference between real coworking spots and fake ones.

COWO:

What are your feelings about coworking as a public service, just like schooling or health services?

J. H.:

A growing number of public local institutions acknowledge that the traditional tools used to develop entrepreneurship and networking in a city or a region are far from optimal in terms of impact.

The coworking experience seems a much more efficient approach to achieve the same goal. So, to me, they can perfectly support a coworking space financially. Of course, it’s better that the running of the space remain at arm length from the administration. It has to secure the space’s operational autonomy.


Cowo’s 5 questions to Coworking Europe. Manuel Zea’s 5 answers.

zea barralManuel Zea is a Spanish architect, founder of 2arquitectos in 2006.

In 2007 he founded one of the first coworking spaces in Spain: WorkingSpace.

In 2010 he founded the directory Coworkingspain.es. and now works to link all the spaces and create a Spanish co-community.

We thank Manuel for answering Cowo’s 5 questions, and look forward to meet him in person in Berlin!

COWO:

Has your own life changed since you practice coworking?

MANUEL ZEA:

Since I came to the first Coworking Europe conference as a speaker, I started the directory coworkingspain.es. In the beginning we were less than 30 centers in Spain. 
Last year, in junction with all coworkings in Spain, I work in growing the directory and the connection between all the coworking spaces. 

COWO:

Is coworking a commodity (i.e. the chance to share an office with little money) or a strategic option (i.e. a platform for all kind of sinergies)?

M.Z.:

At the beginning it was an option of having nice office with little money, but the coworking concept grows, and spaces start being a strategic option for knowledge and synergies for freelance, and innovation center for corporation. 

COWO:
After all these years of discussing, I think we should know by now if business rhymes with coworking. Does it?
M.Z.:

The business of coworking spaces still having a difficult future in Spain. Coworking managers still a bit lose in how to increase their centers. But outside Spain, centers are making really good job. 
Coworking centers start to know how to make business with their centers, a lot of centers are recently open as business option and business center are looking to coworking as a product. 

COWO:

Considering the media craze, the flourishing of spaces, the many online tools coworking-related and… why not,this conference itself, do you envision the risk of tranforming coworking in a sort of bubble, where a minority just trying to make money spoils the beauty of the idea, ultimately depriving the word coworking of its true meaning?

M.Z.:

The coworking concept has a big way to walk yet.
The business model is not completely validated. But when we walk all this way it could be a coworking bubble and maybe some centers without the values of the coworking are destinated to close in the future. 

COWO:

What are your feelings about coworking as a public service, just like schooling or health services?

M.Z.:

I think city halls have to give entrepreneurs and freelances the tools to start or improve their business, and everything they make to help freelance improve their business will be beneficial to all.