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.
In the second breakout room of our coworking event, participants spoke about the interesting and diverse projects they are working on in the space. Some of these projects are focusing on how coworking can be used in rural settings to build a new economic development strategy, while others spoke about multi-use coworking strategies that invite artists into a public spaces.
Helping a rural area become independent of tourism
“I’m the founder of X and the X app., which is an open source product for managing coworking spaces… I’m huge in supporting, especially rural coworking as an economic development strategy to help hubs build ecosystems in local areas and again trying to make the local economy dependent on something other than tourism.”
“I see these as an opportunity to deactivate and change and make the economy… much more dynamic and not only dependent on tourism. It’s almost 40% of the domestic gross product at the moment (tourism in the Canary Islands). And obviously with the current times we are obviously facing huge challenges as flights (halted), although they are starting to come back in. We were locked down for almost three months.”
Multi-use coworking spaces
“I’m also one of the founders of X which is a house of a thousand square meters in the harbor district of Stockholm, where we run a coworking space… But the thing we do that’s unique for us in this sector in Sweden is that we combine this with collaborative activity studios for artist. And we also have events spaces. We organize everything from art exhibitions to parties, conferences in the daytime.”
“And we are now also developing this Container village. We’re transforming a former parking lot next door to a container-based, basically a public square. We’re trying to innovate around it. And so then we also have, we’re all stay the sort of hub for ex-writers and Nordics.”
“I work as network development director. Yes, at X, we have about a hundred locations worldwide in 55 countries, 16,000 members. And what we provide coworking space. Our theory of change is to enable, inspire and connect entrepreneurs, social entrepreneurs. So we’re most focused on that. Then we inspire by bringing in and providing events and relevant and meaningful conversations. We enable people by providing some programs and capacity building around entrepreneurship, and we connect people by hosting them in our spaces and in our global app platform.”
Coworking spaces with support from universities, corporates and governments
“So we’re backed by a monster technology university, X - a fintech firm based in Ireland - and the local council. And we organize events, set up weekends, hackathons, and we’re also a space for people to connect. So we try to connect the start-up world with the corporate world so they can give the start-ups some runway and get some exposure for the corporates into what’s happening in the start-up world.”
“You tend to not think of it in this context, but actually government agencies are basically large collections of humans working together. In some cases, very large. You take the state of California, the state of California has 860 or 850,000 employees. That’s bigger than any IBM or AT&T or the biggest companies you can think of. It’s huge. And they’re looking for how do they work from home and they have another thing to keep in mind, which is they have to be careful about data. They also have to make sure they keep working. It’s not okay to close down government just because people can’t get to an office. So they care about disaster resiliency and continuity of operations. So, that’s what I’m doing on the side-lines.”
Change in attitude to remote working
“If bankers in the city of London are talking about giving up office spaces, that to me is a much more interesting signal to watch for as a society than all the software companies in Silicon Valley saying: ‘Oh, we’re going to just go virtual’.
“To me, the other things to look at are things like a reduction in real estate valuations. We’re seeing commercial real estate valuations drop. And the numbers change of course, day by day and month by month. But the last few months have seen drops between 10 to 20% drop per month, continuing. (That is) from people saying: "’Why have I got a commercial space if I can’t actually get people into the office?’”
“I do actually think that people will want to live in places, like this whole argument of you have to be in the office to have a good job. Well, the last 12 weeks, have proven that to be just not true. So that argument’s gone. And then the next thing is people were (saying): ‘I don’t feel safe in an office and I’ve already proven I can work well from home, so I’m going to work from wherever.’
“I see smaller neighborhood, community coworking spaces, like what X and X do. I think that if every small town of 10,000 people or more had at least one space, I think that’s the biggest shift in urban planning and social work that we’ve had in probably 90 years. I think that’s where we’re literally in.”
Are you involved in any interesting coworking projects that you think will help shape the future of the sector or do you have any thoughts on the impacts coworking and remote work will have on our societies and economies? We would love to hear from you. Please share below!
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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.