How technology can help support the recovery of the coworking sector

This article is part of our series to support economic resilience and regeneration. We collect knowledge and practices that people in different sectors are using to keep their businesses afloat right now. People discuss and share advice with one another by leaving thoughtful comments to each article. Contributors then receive invitations to opportunities for further learning and collaboration.

While some spaces are making their own technology, others are using household names. Some are utilising a mixture of both. Read on to learn more about the key tech players in the coworking space and what people think of acces technologies

Mixed approaches

“At the beginning we were using the available ones, like Nexudus… but then along the way, looking at how coworking itself is an ecosystem builder, we thought that we stepped back a bit. We want to be the engine of all the coworking players across Indonesia… so, currently we’re building our own tech platform to connect all of those hubs.”

“So we have more than 50 hubs spreading in 26 cities, but then we are empowering them through programs. So looking at how we recover from COVID-19, we always say that the strength of coworking is not just the chair, cable, and internet. If it’s like that, that means we are an internet cafe for hipsters.”

“So the strength is community activations, and then how we can always provide value to our audience. So we’ve been running all these programs and the partnership programs. Just last April, we did a massive startup week in Indonesia and it became the biggest in APEC, even more than China and India, because we got 1,500 people registered from 29 provinces.”

“I mean, Indonesia only has 34 provinces so 29 is almost all of them. But then to be able to engage everybody from all these coworking spaces, onboarding their communities, we were using six different platforms just to manage the whole three days process.”

“We are using Discourse, open source forum platform, biggest one in the world, where it’s connected… but we have our own part of that forum. It works great for us in terms of communicating important information.”

“We have Simple for our membership management for payments and so on, small, small, very basic thing… we’re looking to transition away from that.”

“X, which is one of the directors of X and our main IT guy, is running a software development program which is basically aiming towards creating platforms, not specifically for coworking spaces, but it could still be relevant for you to know. It’s called Participio and it’s a trio at the moment of software built for participatory processes around placemaking. For example, we’ve received research grants of 20,000 euros from Swedish government agency to develop this. This could be interesting for you to look into if you are into that sphere.”

“We have attempted to create a sort of a shared platform in Stockholm for different corporate spaces that we feel are sort of aligned to us culturally. We haven’t, thus far, been successful in this. There hasn’t been very much of a drive among others to do this.”

“Ideas would have been, you shared access to spaces and so on and so forth. But so far we haven’t, it hasn’t really turned into anything concrete, which is surprising given the challenges. I think most places are overwhelmed by the challenges that they don’t feel they have the bandwidth to even consider adding the complexity of this.

Coworking tech main players

“Cobot is probably my favorite and Nexudus was the most popular for a long time. And they’ve tried to have every aspect included for coworking management. Cobot is coming up pretty hot now and I think most people in Europe are starting to use them, they’re out of Berlin.”

“And Nexudus, I think is out of London, UK. However, Cobot is really user-friendly. The guys are really responsive there and they work really closely with coworking spaces to develop the needs. So I would 100% recommend them and because they’re so popular, they have a lot of integrations. And I do believe they’re open source, but I could be wrong about that, but I know the guys personally, really awesome.”

“I also put a link to Measurance. I just became familiar with them. I don’t know them so well, but they have adapted theirs as well to kind of help your space mitigate the COVID issues as well, so that you can sort of like you say, survey your attendees, but also in the way of measuring temperatures and also air quality, which is really important for spaces now.”

“So they can actually measure air quality and you can look on your app and see today the space has 98% clear air or whatever. So there’s all sorts of crazy stuff going on right now in response to COVID, but they also do the same, a similar thing to Cobot and Nexudus, not as developed.”

Access technologies for spaces

“We installed cameras maybe eight months ago or something and I mean, ironically, it’s mainly around the entrances, it’s not very invasive. But I find it really helps to reduce conflict and so on cause you cannot always know who it was, who forgot to lock the door, or whatever it was.”

“(Kisi) is also an access tool. It’s either via card or through your phone, through an app. And that’s also a nice way to have for 24 hour access. It’s a very affordable way to do that if you’re a space that doesn’t have a receptionist as well.”

“So people can tap in it and access the building after hours. And it always records who’s coming and going and a lot of people do it through their phone as well. And it interacts with everything from elevators to front doors, to after hours.”

“I think they’re also developing payments systems. So if you want to pay for things within the coworking space, like a chocolate bar, you can pay for it through this as well, so they are continuing to develop that. Kis is out of New York City I believe. They’re German, that are located there now. They’re also really tied into the scene there and they started off in coworking and now they’re branching out into other sectors for the access for app and key card. Super, super effective, and very affordable option.”

It’s important to ask yourself why you are using said technology

“So are you looking for some tech solutions that kind of bring your community together? Are you looking to manage your space and get out of your head all of the admin tasks, would you say we’re onboarding the members, invoicing, and looking into the meeting rooms, booking systems, and things like that?”

If you have any other suggestions for helpful technologies, or you are building a system yourself, please comment below.

This summary is from an event was part of the NGI Forward project Generation Internet (NGI) initiative, launched by the European Commission in the autumn of 2016. It received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No. 825652 from 2019-2021.

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