It’s been a couple of months since the UK’s second ever National Coworking Day, and our birthday isn’t until October (12 years!). Luckily, the International Coworking Day came along at just the right time, offering the perfect opportunity to celebrate coworking with some cake!
But as we celebrate the fantastic people that drive the coworking movement and fill our coworking spaces (looking especially at our lovely members), we must also ask some important questions about the future.
So on this International Coworking Day, we present to you a feature from Claire Carpenter, Founder and CEO of The Melting Pot and pioneer of coworking.
Read on to find her thoughtful reflection on the past and current state of the coworking movement and industry, where she asks those important questions.
A Wise Word from Claire
“Coworking as a type of business offering is now firmly established, even though geographical spread is not equal among continents, countries and the urban/rural divide. Industry norms are maturing, even as what you experience in one ‘space’ is not the same as in another, similar to any hospitality experience. Coworking as a concept is becoming more embedded in public awareness, and more mainstream. It has attracted the attention and support of professionals in other industries who offer us services which add value and support our business delivery and offering. It has also attracted investors looking for returns within a local and global property market. And if you are looking to make a cowering business happen now, more likely than not, someone will be interested in assisting you.
But coworking as a movement has been around far longer than the industry. Over the past 15 years, I’ve had the pleasure to visit hundreds of coworking businesses all over the world, in all sorts of locations. I’ve met the global pioneers – the movements makers – who created ‘shared resource bases’ for their local communities. I’ve explored diverse business matters with these founders, their leaders and staff, understanding common issues and concerns. I’ve witnessed countless imaginative ways of designing and utilising spaces – with high and low budgets, so people can work, meet, learn and connect. I’ve witnessed our emerging personnel pool – people attracted into this business as a career option. I’ve chatted to clients, the beneficiaries of all our collective efforts, and heard what works – or doesn’t – and what really counts to them and the difference it can make. I’ve met with government servants, advisors and agencies who understand how coworking builds resilient enterprising communities, and who want these facilities to exist throughout their country, to support entrepreneurs and businesses of all shapes and sizes.
And so, even as we celebrate International Coworking Day, I challenge you – the practitioners, policy makers and clients – to consider how we can strengthen and sustain the coworking movement. Let us ask ourselves – and each other:
- How do we make these environments be the best places to drive inclusive growth, innovation and collaboration?
- How do we go about to make such environments available more widely – to attract, retain and develop talent wherever it resides – not just the big cities and hot-spots?
- How can we ensure we keep developing our own services so as to be far more than just an office, or a hot desk with wifi and coffee, and support others to do the same?
- How do we attract, retain and develop great people to work in this emerging industry?
- How do we work together to better develop the entrepreneurial ecosystem we operate in?
- How can we encourage and support independent coworking businesses who compete with the emerging corporate chains, or are operating in areas of market deficiency?
- How can coworking facilities create more resilient enterprising communities, that help us collectively reach the Sustainable Development Goals?
- How do we utilise our resources to incubate and inspire the next generation of social / entrepreneurs?
Let’s keep the discussion flowing and continue to shine a spotlight on great examples of this established movement and new industry. Let’s share our experience and insights with each other to keep the momentum and community vibrant. Let’s help each other make the most impact with the tools we have. Let’s think about the future – but also celebrate what we have achieved to date. Let’s celebrate the power of coworking on this International Coworking Day!”