What a great time GCUC was.. The Global Coworking Unconference Conference brought so many great conversations, energy, and people! The amount of like-minded individuals there to learn and collaborate was truly inspirational. Everyone from vets to brand new coworking spaces all came together to share ideas, which is the very root of coworking itself! People from Belgium to New Zealand gathered under one roof small enough to meet a good portion of the crowd, yet large enough to fit people from across the spectrum of the coworking world.
Steve Whittington, of Lifeworking Enterprise, shared his story of how he began. Before coworking, Whittington worked for Proctor and Gamble for twenty five years. When he moved to Chicago, he decided to try something else and witnessed people working at coffee shops struggling to try to be productive. He attended GCUC before opening his space, while actually trying to disprove the model. He gathered all the information needed, and decided to give it a go. His space is described as “professional with a touch of home.” It is hospitality focused and network friendly with 80% open space. Open for six months, Lifeworking Enterprise takes advantage of the benefits of virtual offices – the up-selling aspect, as well as the growth in the community.
Lucas Seyhun, founder of The Farm Soho, perfectly depicted those in the coworking community. He stated that the employees feel as if it is the best job they’ve had, and the best business they’ve ever built. He says, “We’re innovating how people work and that resonates into our employees.” He also shared that in Desk Mag, it was said that 25% of U.S. Employees are going to either be remote working or in coworking environments that resemble home. Another great point from Seyhun: The coworking market is young. Those working in coworking spaces are no longer in the corporate world, having the same mundane routine. They’re now part of something exciting, on their own time. Seyhun describes that his coworking space fits into the social mode of people. Instead of going to their office, they would go to The Farm for creativity and collaboration. The Farm also utilizes virtual offices for business, and is one of SphereMail’s coworking partners.
Colo intrigued me with their simple logo, forcing me to go up to the booth to see what they’re about. If you are looking for a coworking space fit for you, visit Colo. It’s practically online dating for coworking spaces. Jonah Merchant, co-founder of BizDojo and Colo, was such a pleasure to speak with. Before coworking, he had no experience in real estate or property. He worked as a freelancer for digital products and online development. Coworking had similar characteristics to a project he was working on at the time: the diverse teams, collaborative environment, and serendipity. He wanted to keep those aspects of that experience. No one was coworking in New Zealand, and so he became the first one to introduce the idea there. BizDojo is described as a friendly atmosphere known for their diversity. He wants to make the members feel like they’re part of something more than just a workspace. He explains, “We always want to have an artist sitting next to a freelancer, sitting next to a corporate person. They all interact in unusual ways. The most amazing stories have been with the most random collaborations that have come out in people you would never in a million years expect to have gelled and connected.” I definitely admired the willingness of Merchant to put New Zealand on the map. He stressed throughout our conversation how small of a country New Zealand is. Towards the end of our talk, he explains that he is trying to help New Zealand become more globally innovative. He wants to see all different sectors working effectively as a unit in order to do well as a country that is too small and too far away from everything else. He wants New Zealand to be more than just a cool place to visit.
These few examples of the conversations held at GCUC is just a taste of the diversity the coworking world contains. Each person I conversed with had a different culture, aim, and tactic. But the purpose was universal: to increase productivity in a collaborative, creative, comfortable space.
By Dani Carrillo