Last week, our team went to Amsterdam for the 9th Coworking Europe Conference, and we came back with some things to share with you. The conference traditionally started off with the Coworking Survey presentation from Deskmag, which included several insights that set the base and tone for the presentations that followed, as well as the more informal conversations during the week.
One of the biggest statements released by the survey is that €10 is the daily amount that coworkers will spend per working day around a coworking space in Europe. We believe — and many of you would probably agree — that a coworking space does not just help the community inside its wall but also outside.
Other presentations that followed were certainly more popular. B. Amsterdam, where the conference was being held, helps the business community innovate, grow and flourish their business in Amsterdam. And for a more personal perspective, Thom Wernke from StartDock gave a very insightful presentation on their journey from building a community first with focused on growth, friendship, collaboration and entrepreneurship, and how he founded the Coworking Federation Amsterdam to bring together the entire coworking ecosystem in Amsterdam. This was a great example of an informative presentation, which highlighted assuring both community and growth for a space — but also collaboration.
WeWork is Not the Only Coworking Space That is Expanding.
Established locally-operated coworking spaces are reaching capacity, estimated at least 85% capacity, and they are looking into expansion of their current space or opening a new location. There are a few questions to ask if you should expand: Can your team handle a move? Are you full? Are you profitable? Expansion should offer more space to more people, like private offices, startup space, etc. Of course this depends on your community and its needs.
Also, another participant said something that rand true this year. „Finally, there was not sessions on how to define coworking.“ 🙂
Coworking Spaces Do Memberships, Not Leases.
Coworking spaces are not doing leases or rent, but they are doing memberships. It is important to think about what rights members may have. Events are part of your membership, and they add vibrancy to your coworking space. Another option that coworking spaces may want to offer is virtual office, but it is important to define what this means for your space. There are three types of virtual offices: (1) use of services like meeting rooms and printing, (2) place for registration of business or (3) a mailing service. Seek counsel from your accountants or lawyers to make sure that your space is following the law. Lastly, have membership plans that work for your community, such as monthly, 10-day flexible membership, weekly and daily passes.
Coworking Can Impact Cities.
Coworking spaces are revitalizing neighborhoods in cities, making a meaningful impact not just on the members, but on the surrounding community, providing jobs, improved healthcare and hope. “Instead of knowledge — these buildings, these spaces, these communities — can create opportunity. This is a way of using the movement and the spaces that we run to help communities and people flourish.” As noted earlier, coworkers are more likely to spend money for food, supplies, etc. in areas around the space.
Not Enough Talk on Metrics
We often get asked why we attend conferences like Coworking Europe, and in the end, it is the deep discussion during coffee or at lunch that we have with participants, probably more so then the sessions. After attending a few sessions this year, it was disappointing that the speakers could not discuss more about metrics in their operation and growth, especially since sustainability is a core value of coworking. Fortunately, it was after a few introductions that we had the chance to discuss what research some organizations are doing, such as Coworking Library and others. Thank you to participants who came up to us and answered a question that a speaker could not. It is a reminder how much value everyone who attends the conference adds to our community.
As a company that provides a modest coworking space in a small country on the coast of the Adriatic Sea, we know there are infinite models of coworking out there, and we do not always fit under the same umbrella. But we must always keep the dialogue open, engage, be critical, look at what needs to be improved and remember that coworking is not only about the spaces, the number of square meters, the decor or even the tools, but mostly about the people in it.
And while there might be a miss or overuse of the word „coworking,“ we can only hope that this means that our movement is inspiring to more traditional models of working and the corporate industry – and that they are looking up to us, rather than the other way around.
Thanks to our old and new friends from Smart Office, Seat2Meet, Coworkaholic, Startit Centar, Nova Iskra, Infostud Hub, KG Coworking, Klub Heroja, The Melting Pot, The Living Room Coworking, Coworker, Cutwork and many others from Coworking Europe 2018 for the discussions and conversations which inspired this post.