Hi all. My name is Jeannine. I have run a network of coworking spaces in the Netherlands called de Kamer (which is Dutch for “the room”). The first one opened in 2010.
I was planning to take all the coworkers on a party bus tour of all the locations for our 10th birthday this month but, er, see, there was this global pandemic.
I am also involved with Open Coworking, the people who bring you coworking.org, and with the European Coworking Assembly. So I stay busy.
My opening date means that we were operating in the aftermath of the Great Recession which in the NL went on through 2013. It was my experience that coworking spaces can serve their coworkers and themselves in these times even more effectively than when things are good, which is a bit paradoxical. It was our time of most rapid growth and the time when our coworkers were working together as they and we did not before or since.
It is my own basic belief that coworking is best framed as the infrastructure of the future of work. I also think that COVID-19 has not so much changed the world as revealed to us things that always were there already and required us to deal with them. It has been a pulling back of the veil in that way.
I think the future of coworking has great potential; I also think that for a lot of coworking spaces it is a real question whether they can hang on through the now long enough to get to that future. What I see around me is that the notion of coworking as rental of event space or as rental arbitrage is not sustainable.
I have to watch out for confirmation bias though as this has long been my opinion, honestly. I should probably say it differently: I was never able to make that work.
In may ways coworking has been internally focused and complacent with it, there are huge portions of society who have never heard of it or who have not been included as part of the movement and that is also not sustainable. These are things which must be addressed, I think, now more than ever.