Category: Social Workplace Conference

The design of our space is research backed to promote varied types of interactions-Ben Gattie,The Working Capitol

Ben Gattie, the co-founder, and CEO at The Working Capitol wanted to nurture creative work environments in his home country of Singapore. After working for a real estate developer focused on SoHo loft conversions in New York City, Ben returned to Singapore about 8 years ago and set up The Bamboo Group, a boutique real estate company specializing in the redevelopment of neighborhood shop houses. Deciding to enter a more meaningful and multifaceted industry centered around creating inspired work environments for companies big and small, Gattie co-founded The Working Capitol with his sister, Saranta.

Today the professional landscape in Singapore is changing, and it’s all thanks to places like The Working Capitol. We caught up with Ben to discuss these changes and how his work is enabling more open and flexible work environments.

Hi, Ben. What is work culture like in Singapore? Have people embraced social workspaces? 

It was quite conventional in a lot of ways until a few years ago with the mainstream emphasizing job security and working out of the central business district. Singapore has made a conscious effort to decentralize, and independent operators such as ourselves have legitimized fringe locations and social workspaces. Thankfully, Singapore is accustomed to change at an aggressive pace and is very adaptable to new things. Singapore apparently has over 60+ co-working spaces so I certainly hope this means people have embraced social workspaces! That said, in our earlier days, it was essential to educate people about what we were doing and to adopt a genuine spirit of giving before we could expect to get in return.

Does TWC aim to promote shared work culture and if so, how?

Ben Gatti

Definitely. We try to promote shared work culture across as many touch points as possible. The design of our space is research backed to promote varied types of interactions, ensuring there are different environments suited for different types of work or social engagement.

We want all our members to feel a sense of ownership of the entire building regardless if they may have signed up for a dedicated workspace. Our events and programming ensure that people come together across different points of interest, which we populate according to the verticals of arts and culture, personal and business development, health and wellness and lifestyle and entertainment.

Furthermore, our team is genuinely interested in what our members do and aims to facilitate interactions and connections whenever possible.

When TWC was being developed, was special attention paid to design? 

Yes. Design with intention is key  i.e understanding why the spaces exist and for what purpose it serves. Design is always best when it puts the member experience first and naturally weaves these human experiences into the built environment.

In your experience, what type of design promotes a better work culture, while also increasing productivity?

Specifically, in the case of The Working Capitol, the flow of one space into another, the incorporation of natural light, a lively color palette and ensuring there are different types of micro-environments suited for different types of work made accessible to everyone have been major contributors to our unique energy.

Do you believe that the physical design of a shared workspace is an essential part of the model? 

It is an essential part of the model. It directly influences not only how well we can perform operationally, but how successful we can be at creating the right energy and interactions. If the hardware is poorly designed, it makes it that much more challenging for our team and all their efforts to bring the space to life successfully, ensuring people are inspired to do their best work.

What types of members do you attract? For example are you focused on the local community or do does TWC extend themselves to digital nomads? 

Our members truly span a broad cross section. Being fortunate enough to have an international upbringing and exposure to different cultures, it was extremely important for us to champion diversity in terms of the type of industries we cater to, as well as different stages of development. We welcome everyone from solo-preneurs to large companies. That diversity can only help to provide different perspectives and learnings to local businesses in Singapore and enable people to grow in both business and personally.

On that same note, do you have corporate members or business partners? If so, why do you think that they are drawn to a place like TWC?

Our corporate members tell us the main draw has been to attract and retain the best talent. They want to provide their teams with access to inspiring spaces, access to amenities and opportunities to engage with other members and companies.


“70% of employees would quit their current position for more flexible work arrangements”-Sam Rosen, Deskpass

Deskpass was born from the experiences of the founders of The Coop, a dedicated coworking space in Chicago. While all coworkers can appreciate the benefits of having a dedicated community, the growing freelancer economy demands variety and access to a range of communities and spaces. This is where Deskpass comes in. Founding member Sam Rosen, who also worked on Desktime, a software used for booking and managing spaces, based on work at The Coop, aims to bring the coworking world easy access to a global network of spaces.

Currently, Deskpass’s flexible membership allows the platform to partner with spaces and offer coworkers a monthly package in Chicago, Los Angeles, and Denver to give you access to all of them. There are also several plan options for people who want to cowork someplace new every day or just a few times a month. We spoke with Sam about the platform and why coworking memberships will be an integral part of the future workplace.

Hi, Sam. How long have you been operating and from your experience what have been some of the common threads that you’ve seen regarding worker’s needs? 

Deskpass has been in operation a little over a year and a half. In that time, we’ve found that most of our users primarily work from home, and like it!. Instead of replacing their home office, they are looking for a place to go once or twice a week. They either want a creative boost, a place to meet clients or a work base close to other things happening in their lives. While traditionally folks who use coworking spaces value location and community, Deskpass users also value flexibility and access to lots of spaces.

As coworking has become more popularized in recent years, it has attracted more traditional workers, and corporations. Do you see a lot of corporate players who are interested in programs like Deskpass?

It’s important for those of us who work in coworking to remember that it is still a new idea and that a vast majority of people may have never heard of it before. We’re seeing more and more mobile and remote workers across industries. Pair that with companies starting to adopt alternative workplace strategies, and innovative options like Deskpass become more and more compelling.

Sam Rosen

Sam Rosen

For example, suburban companies want flexible options downtown for talent recruitment and retention. Forbes tells us at least 70% of employees would quit their current position for more flexible work arrangements. One study from GWA showed 95% of employers say remote work has a high impact on employee retention & 36% of employees would choose it over a pay raise.

Businesses that want to compete for the best people need to keep those things in mind but also don’t want to rent offices all over the place.

What are some of the experiences that you’ve had with more traditional workers that have signed up for Deskpass? 

Most of our folks use Deskpass to augment an existing setup. They like working from home, or from the office most of the time, and Deskpass serves as an attractive alternative a few times a month. Maybe they need to travel for work or they just want to get out of the house. Again, for many people, coworking is still a new concept. We find that a lot of folks are trying coworking for the first time and come to wonder how they have worked so long without it.

On that same note, would you say most of your users are full-time freelancers and part-time remote workers who are able to leave the office from time to time?

We’re pretty evenly split between freelancers and remote workers. We definitely expected to be more freelancer-based when we launched and have been excited to see the benefits membership offers remote workers.

As Deskpass encourages flexible use of space, what is your take on the future of real estate in the workplace? 

There’s little doubt in my mind we are in a transformative moment for our concepts of the office. For the first time ever, “work” doesn’t have to both be a thing we do and the place we do it.

We’re going to see more variance in and more kinds of ecosystems for work. I imagine folks will still have a traditional office available to them but will be equally empowered to work from home. This could be done from wherever it is that’s going to allow them to get the most work done, be more focused and have a better quality of life. An ideal environment might change based on the personality type and the job. Furthermore, my ideal environment might change based on what specific project I am working on or what my schedule feels like for the week.

Overall, we’re going to see more hybrids with less dedicated space and more awesome thoughtful drop-in environments supported by better and better technology.



“Barely a day goes by where I am not visiting a coworking space”-Joe Griston

After many years of working around the world, Joe Griston joined as the Director of People & Talent. For the last 3 and a half years, Joe has been responsible for all HR and Recruitment operations globally at one of the biggest job finding portals for freelancers. In this time, has grown to have 500 staff in 7 offices across the globe.

After moving back to his hometown of London earlier this year, Joe is now focusing on the growing user numbers and operations in Europe. We spoke with Joe about how is changing the way freelancers find work, but also about how these digital platforms will greatly contribute to overall innovation and growth in Europe’s professional landscape.

Hi, Joe. Many freelancers today use online platforms to find work. Since there are so many out there, how does provide results and also protection for independent workers?

Our freelancer profile pages act as an effective CV, but one that provides thorough and detailed metrics to promote the freelancer’s skills, abilities and past successes to potential employers. Traditionally, a freelancer’s CV will say they are ‘hard working’, ‘dynamic’ and ‘good at solving problems’, but these words actually prove nothing. But, our metrics do. It is up to the freelancer to make sure these metrics are as strong as possible, which in turn allows for greater results in being hired.

We also have similar metrics for employers, ensuring security in every way possible. Our desktop app tracks hours worked and we also recommend using our Milestone Payment System, which gives payments to freelancers throughout their work rather than just upon completion of the project.

You are based in London. Why do you think that the freelance community in London is not only growing but also thriving when compared to less successful communities around Europe?

The gig economy is upon us and England and London are very expensive places to live. However, average salaries in these areas have not increased in the same way rent and living costs have. Therefore, we have a number of freelancers also in full-time employment who earn money to supplement their existing income. We also have a number of freelancers who started this way and quickly realised that they can earn more money than provided by their regular traditional employment. They also saw that earning money in this way and being your own boss was a far better lifestyle for them when compared to the 9-5 grind.

This is one of many reasons why London and the UK and growing in numbers, however, I do not think there are any unsuccessful freelancer communities in Europe. This is a solution for everyone and growing in all regions. We facilitate the connection to employers from all over the planet, this greater choice of work benefits everyone.

Do you believe freelancers need a community, like a coworking space, to help them grow? 

It depends on the freelancer. We have many who are working remotely, with the likes of companies like Udacity, etc. Thus the wealth of the world’s knowledge is now online, allowing anyone to learn and up-skill themselves. Their social situation or cultural background may prohibit any other form of work. However, teams of freelancers can be very happy physically working together and that is why coworking spaces are now all over every major city around the world.

Joe Griston- freelancers

Joe Griston

Also, many communities in London support themselves, not only in working together but in how to grow a successful business and then become employers of freelancers themselves. Barely a day goes by where I am not visiting a coworking space and the communities here are very supportive to one another. The choice of how to work has never been greater. Studies vary, most claim 50% of all workers should be completing some form of freelance work by 2020.

What does this mean for the future of work?

It means that platforms like are the future of work. How do you get a job by sending in a text CV that sits in a pile of 300 other CV’s on someone’s desk? Trying to get a job in a big corporation in a big city is far harder than trying to get a job on Technology allows us to work together in a far greater capacity than ever before.

Do you believe that an increase in freelance workers overall is better for innovation and professional progress? If so, why?

Yes. Imagine that you are a small business and you would like a logo designed. Do you employ a full-time graphic designer permanently that you can’t really afford? Do you allow yourself to be pitched by a design agency for enormous amounts of money? No, it would be better for you to  post a contest on and have greater choice and knowledge about with who and how you want to collaborate. Working together with freelancers in this way allows business to grow and makes room for greater flexibility on how to spend your revenue.

Also, we have seen a number of businesses now totally operate on The product is designed, the website created, the SEO and sales all arranged and completed online. The only limit to work in this way is your imagination. You mentioned professional progress, and this is an example of how to help both the employer and freelancer to work in a far greater capacity. To illustrate the scale of working successfully, we, for example, partner with NASA, who use us to aid in space exploration. So, freelance platforms are not just for low-paying small job. High quality and well-paying work is everywhere. This is the absolute future of work.

On top of coworking, we offer “transition spaces” for project teams or companies – Florencia Faivich (Urban Station)

The Latin American coworking scene is growing. 6 Years ago Urban Station coworking  was founded in Buenos Aires and has since then continued to strengthen its leadership position in the Latin American coworking market. With 10 Latin American locations,including Chile, Colombia, and Mexico, the coworking franchise plan to expand to the USA and Canada.

Urban Station has also embraced corporate coworking, and has signed agreements with companies like Heineken, Motorola, Samsung, Microsoft, among others, with the aim to launch events and other networking opportunities for developing a market conducive to double-digit growth. We caught up with one of Urban Station’s founders, Florencia Faivich to find out more about Latin American coworking developments.

Hi, Florencia. Can you please tell us a bit about the Urban Station project and your role within the space?

We developed Urban Station to be aligned with our users’ needs. That was what motivated our four founders, Juan Pablo Russo, Marcelo Cora, Claudio Bisurgi and myself, to create this Project.

Coming from leadership positions in based in various corporations, our vision was to become the world’s first network for mobile workers, while also leading the development of the coworking movement in Latin America. Our business venture is one that unites modern design, every type of office service, a flexible system and the possibility of belonging to a like-minded community: these were all components of the initial setup’s “combo.”

As Urban Station is a network of spaces, what is the at the core value system of your network?

Our mission as a company, as stated by creator Juan Pablo Russo, is to democratize the office. We work every day to facilitate a daily office space for everybody. We don’t have memberships, we keep our doors open to all,  and our motto is “enjoy working differently”.

Can you tell us a bit more about the Argentinian coworking scene?

The scene has evolved over the years, developing and gaining followers every day . Today there are more than 60 spaces throughout the country and the movement just continues to grow. The growing trend not only adds customers from the independent world, but also companies of all kinds are also working in such spaces.

Today, coworking spaces are part of the entrepreneurial ecosystem, which also involves universities, accelerators , organizations such as Endeavor and the National Government

What has been the impact Urban Station has had on the community?

Urban Station Coworking

Urban Station Coworking

Our proposal was well received in the market and we installed a different concept in the coworking market. Our flexible format allows our clients to use our spaces to work or meet differently by the time each one needs.

Our pillars include flexibility, cutting-edge design, and networking. So far, our concept has been very well received by both local and international press

Has there been a rise of freelancers in Argentina due to the economic crisis?

The economic crisis has been here for the last ten years, so the rise of freelancers is not only related to that issue. It’s more related to global trends that include a new generation of objectives sparked by the Y and Z generations, are more related to freedom in the workplace as opposed to the more corporate model.

Have freelancers, like in some other countries, been criticized for not having a “normal job” and has that improved?

Not at all. Being a freelancer is considered to be normal here. There have been and still are a lot of success stories regarding entrepreneurs and independent workers.

Are there still challenges for self-employed individuals?

Yes, of course. One of the big ones is being able to maintain stability. People here are open to working on different projects, so they manage at the end of the day. They are also open to finding solutions in order to maintain financial stability, by combining different things. Yet, like many places, we need more laws and benefits that will protect independent workers as well as the market.

And what are the benefits of having a franchise model, rather than a singular space?

The franchise model allowed us to expand quickly, inside and outside of Argentina. Today, we currently have branches in Argentina, Chile, Colombia , Mexico and Egypt and for the users, it gives them access to a wide network and this is key for them to develop their activities and skill sets. Today, work includes mobility in many cases, so to offer our members a network is a huge advantage.

What types of members do you typically host?

Our audience is very heterogeneous. From freelancers to startups, as well as designers, journalists, architects, consultants, human resources experts, web designers, and translators. Our spaces are also home to various companies of all sizes that use our meeting rooms, auditoriums, and access programs.

Do you have any corporations that also use Urban Station? If so, why do they choose to cowork?

Yes, there are several companies who choose to work with us for different reasons. For example, they use coworking as a way to install part of their teams for special assignments.

Flexibility and economic advantages introduce them to the space and thus they share it with other entrepreneurs who nurture their creativity and spirit by working together. We also have developed different programs for companies on top of our offer of a remote office for their employees

Can you elaborate on the “Your office will follow you” program?

We have changed the paradigm. People spend a significant amount of time in their office, so we are trying to make a more dynamic work environment by creating different spots, kind of like subway stations so that the office can follow you wherever you choose to go. Our business model allows to spontaneous work of meetup area whenever and wherever our corporates clients want it.

You offer transition spaces. Have you ever had cases where a company would rent on a flexible basis and decide to join Urban Station as members?

Yes, it happens often. Many companies come to work on a project, but would prefer to extend, which is not always possible. Thus, enjoy the space, the environment, flexibility and good energy that is generated!


“We propose the off peak environment of beautiful restaurants for coworking”-Preston Pesek, Spacious NYC

Finding a place to work in a major metropolis like New York City can be a challenge and an expensive one at that. At first glance, options may seem limited, but if you look a little closer, maybe the perfect place to work was there all along. Preston Pesek, co-founder of Spacious Coworking, saw past property challenges and found that there was actually plenty of space, depending on how you look at it.

Setting up coworking spaces the City’s restaurants during the day, Spacious takes a novel approach to how we get the most out of urban landscapes. Realizing that many of these top eateries are pretty much empty until 5PM, until the after work rush, Spacious aims to combine business and pleasure.

Hi, Preston. What inspired you to start Spacious?

I have a background in commercial real estate. It was through this lens that I began to realize that beautifully furnished, street-level retail space, which often stays closed until 5:00pm or later, is actually some of the highest value property that has been programmed the least efficiently.

With the rise of an independent workforce, in the context of a technological culture where people can stay productive and connected from anywhere, the opportunity to tap into the potential of these under-used spaces quickly became obvious.

Does the coworking element offer any specific benefits to the restaurants, such as financial incentives?

Not only do we share our profits with our restaurant partners, but they also benefit from greater visibility through our digital marketing efforts. In addition to more exposure, the restaurants can also serve food and drinks to our members during the day as well if they want. In most cases, our partners are very excited about the opportunity to serve small plates during the day, and our members love it too.

How long do you occupy each restaurant? And, does the offer change after a certain time, or do you have a set network of restaurants ?

We open at 9:00am, and for anyone who lingers after the restaurant opens, can simply choose to stay and order from the menu, or from the bar. Most of our restaurant partners like to have a few early customers to jumpstart the evening.

When we add a new partner, we expect that it remains in the network through the remainder of the restaurant partner’s lease. The network grows over time, so we will be continually adding new locations, resulting in increasing network coverage in each city where we operate.

Coworking communities rely on their hosts to help members integrate and build community. Since your hosts aren’t with the coworkers for an extended period of time, is it harder for them to connect with members?

On the contrary, the hosts who greet and  help to check-in our members are dedicated Spacious employees, so they are there every day. They get to know our members quite well, and as they are with them throughout the day, they act as a friendly concierge and reception for both our members and their guests. All of our hosts know almost everyone by name, creating a friendly and hospitable experience.

Are these hosts already experienced coworkers or are they also new to the concept?

The Spacious hosts are a diverse mix of independent freelancers, theater and film actors, designers, etc. who understand the need for an affordable place to meet and work that also acts as a social space. Some of them are new to Spacious, of course (because we are new), but everyone already has previous knowledge and experience with coworking.

Who are your typical members? What are their professions? coworking in restaurants

We have a diverse membership. We have independent designers, makers, and developers, as well as members of small to startup teams. We even have employees coming from larger organizations who have a “work from anywhere” corporate policy, who enjoy the fact that Spacious offers an experience that is more hospitable than the typical office.

Do they work from home, or are they also experienced coworkers?

Many of our members have also worked out of other coworking communities before joining us. The value of what we can offer, because of our unique business model, matched with high-touch quality experience, is something that sets us apart from many others in the space. Not many other coworking spaces can say that they are connected to a Michelin star kitchen.

What are some of the things that professionals in NYC need but doesn’t have access to through the established coworking networks?

Objectively, we solve the problem of finding a reliable network of places to host face-to-face meetings. While we don’t offer a permanent workstation where you can leave your computer overnight, we do offer a network of places where you can meet with others in a space suitable for any client, colleague, or friend. At Spacious you can choose to stay quietly productive at a table of your own, or engage in collaborative conversations in a space that is designed for social interaction.

Of course, you can also choose to stay quietly productive at a table of your own, or engage in collaborative conversations as we create an atmosphere designed for social interaction.

NYC has a lot of coworking spaces already, what did it take for you to realize a concept that would stand out and ultimately thrive amongst the competition?

The business model we’ve designed allows us to offer something truly special that few others can. We also offer this at a price that is very hard to beat. The Spacious network will show you where the best spaces in any city are located, and these spaces are picked to be both beautiful by day, and also by night when they become top tier restaurant venues. Because we carefully curate our space partners, you can rely on Spacious to give you insight into “where to be” in any city. We hope to become an insider’s guide to the best spaces in cities all over the world.

How have people reacted to the Spacious concept so far? And, do you have any plans to start using other non-traditional spaces in the future?

Our members love it. It’s something very unique, but it also allows our members to feel that they are at home, and are proud to tell others about where they work. It’s a kind of “life hack” that is also an exciting movement.

As our membership grows, we’re going to want to offer 24/7 access to the Spacious network. This move will require that we find other spaces, and there are plenty of those to be found if you have the right kind of perspective. To us, every city looks very spacious!


“In Real Estate, being able to deal with emotions and personal feelings is critical”-Katie Lance

An expert in marketing in branding for the last 15 years, Katie Lance currently explores the impact of social media can have when building a more transparent company culture. As a consultant, Katie helps companies utilize social media on a myriad of levels, from engaging with employees, to assisting clients and users.

We spoke with Katie about the potential impact “smart” social media can have on business today, and how it can carve out space for more human engagement in the workplace.

Your specialty is social media. How do you see the role of social media in workplace culture today?

It’s important for companies to understand that their social media presence isn’t just what is posted via their corporate social media directors. Employees have, in many ways, just a big of a voice and can be some of the biggest brand ambassadors.

How do you think that the real estate industry will utilize social media to improve the way that they interact with customers, etc.?

For many people, buying and selling a home is an intensely personal and emotional experience, and I can think of no better industry than real estate to use social media to celebrate those moments and connect with their clients on a personal level. The real estate industry has a unique opportunity to use social media to keep in touch with their clients, as well as an opportunity to share what it feels like to work with them and what their communities are all about.

Can you tell us a bit about these changes that you see taking place in the real estate industry from this experience?

I think we are getting a bit away from all of the “shiny objects” that overshadowed the industry a few years back. As technology gets better and better, I see opportunities that help agents to tell their story and build their brand. I particularly see opportunities with

I particularly see opportunities with live video like Facebook Live, Snapchat and Periscope, which allow agents to create content quickly and allow consumers to ask questions and interact in real time. I see this as a huge opportunity for agents to build trust and build their business.

What challenges are ahead for office providers, coworking space etc.?

I do see more companies letting their employees work remotely and offering more flexible work schedules. Ultimately it comes down to trust; trust in the employees that they know how they work best, whether it’s in an office, at a coffee shop or at a home office. I think many companies still fear not having an office space because they feel their culture will be affected.

Katie Lance social media

Katie Lance

I personally run a virtual company with a relatively small virtual team for nearly four years and I can tell you first-hand that you don’t need to be all in the same room to build culture. We create culture through our Skype calls, our Voxer voice messages, our iPhones, and the various other ways that we keep in touch and on task through technology tools.

How do you imagine the role of the office in the future? Will will be all being working remotely in due time?

The workplace has changed dramatically in the last few years in part because of technology and in part because how so many of us have previously worked has also changed. For many of us, we no longer need to be in the same building at the same time of day  to get a job done. I don’t think offices will ever disappear forever but I think we will only continue to see more and more people working remotely.

“Workplace innovation improves motivation for employees, which leads to increased labor productivity”-Grzegorz Drozd, EU Comission

Grzegorz Drozd is a policy officer at the European Commission, DG GROW, focusing on topics such as internal markets, industry, entrepreneurship, and SMEs. Grzegorz is currently exploring the issue of industrial modernization in regards to new business models and the future of work in Europe. As coworking is increasingly taken seriously by local municipalities and governments, we wanted to see what the movement looks like through the lens of these initiatives, not just space owners and operators.

We caught up with Grzegorz to speak about the future of work in Europe and what some of the numbers tell us about the freelancing and coworking today.

Hi, Grzegorz. Can you please tell us about your work and some of your current projects?

In addition to working as a policy officer at the European Commission, I also explore non-technological innovations, concentrating on workplace innovation. I am in charge of the European Workplace Innovation Network, also know as EUWIN. Prior to working for the EU Commission, I worked in the Polish Ministry of Economy, focusing on innovation support systems, industrial & SME policy.

European Workplace Innovation Network (EUWIN) aims to animate and sustain workplace innovation within the EU. How exactly does the program focus their efforts?

EUWIN was launched in 2013 to improve the performance of organizations as well as the quality of jobs in a sustainable way. Today we are connected with more than 10,000 companies and other stakeholders, such as policymakers, trade unions, academic experts, al with whom we are sharing know-how and experience.

And what steps does EUWIN take towards increasing innovation in the workplace?

Some of the key elements of EUWIN:

  • Distributes evidence on the benefits of modernizing the workplace and working conditions.
  • Focuses on raising awareness via dedicated regional workshops and social media.
  • Provides a valuable resource for managers and employee representatives through the Knowledge Bank.
  • Is open to practitioners, social partners, policymakers, representatives of intermediary organizations, and others with an interest in the workplace.

As the concept of coworking is spreading, a majority of these networks are now located in Europe. Does the European Commission also consider coworking to be revolutionizing the workplace?

Coworking spaces can be a part of the solution aimed at making the best use of employee potential. In this context, they are part of the wider concept of workplace innovation.

In addition, workplace innovation can mean many things, such as a change in business structure, human resources management, relationships with clients and suppliers, or even the work environment itself. It improves motivation and working conditions for employees, which leads to an increase in labor productivity, innovation capability, market resilience, and overall business competitiveness.

All enterprises, no matter their size, can benefit from workplace innovation.

In addition to coworking spaces cropping up, the number of freelancers in Europe has dramatically increased in recent years. Does EUWIN, or the EC, look at ways to assist and protect remote workers?

New technologies have changed the way we live, consume and meet people. As the internet has changed our lives, the industrial internet is now transforming the way we work and produce. The digital revolution is happening, which of course affects employment.

In this context, the European Pillar of Social Rights was announced by President Juncker in 2015. The Commission put forward a first preliminary outline of the Pillar in March this year and a public consultation is open until 31 December 2016. The results will inform the final proposal, which will be presented early in 2017.

One of the main aims of the consultation is to reflect and propose answers to these new trends we are now seeing in work patterns, as well as our societies. It also looks at the challenges that they pose to employment and the welfare state, due to the impact of demographic changes, innovation, technological change and digitization.

What might be some of the ways that workplaces in the EU could accommodate the rising number of freelancers without taking advantage?

Alternative work arrangements, such as telecommuting or telework, freelance or independent professional (iPro) work, crowdsourcing and employment in the shared economy ultimately create jobs and new opportunities for the self-employed. By lowering entry barriers to service provision and to new forms of employment or activities this can be achieved.

However, there is a tension between new and emerging types of occupations and business models and the existing contractual arrangements that question the current definition of workers, both statistically and economically as well as legally. For instance, the dividing line between “worker” and “self-employed” is becoming more blurred, particularly in platforms within the collaborative economy. Platform work questions the identity and responsibilities of the platform/employer in triangular relationships with the service provider/employee and the customer. It questions the definitions of contracts and relationships, and their impact on undeclared labor.

Grzegorz Drozd

Grzegorz Drozd

Today there are many questions regarding this topic, such as the volume or duration of work, the capacity to identify the employers as well as the associated level of social protection, notably in terms sickness, unemployment, and pension benefits. This can raise legal uncertainty and insufficient information on the applicable regulations and rights. Almost one in two employees on permanent contracts receive training compared to 32% of employees with fixed-term contracts and 19% of self-employed.

All of those aforementioned issues need to be addressed in order to make a full use of the potential offered by alternative working arrangements.

Have freelancers and coworking spaces played a noticeable role in helping the EU become more professionally dynamic?

Under alternative work arrangements, workers are gaining more autonomy and improved work-life balance, but also inherit more responsibility to optimize their career paths. Decentralised, self-organised forms of work can also boost business development.

In addition, more strain and faster pace of change are likely to lead to higher stress levels, as well as psychological and mental health risks. In the future, work stress could be a major occupational health and safety. In order to counterbalance stress in strained work environments, increased worker autonomy and flexibility are key.

In general, what have been some of the changes you have seen in the current workforce, such as job growth etc. and what has been the biggest catalyst for positive change?

The employment situation in the EU is improving. We observe an increase of the overall employment rates, for both the EU and the Euro area, which is an increase representing 3 million more employed people in the EU than in 2015. Yet, the overall long-term unemployment rate has decreased by 0.6 pp compared to a year before and now makes up 4.3% of the labour force. This is the largest reduction since the first decline in long-term unemployment observed in 2014. In addition to these number, for the first time since the start of the economic recovery, the number of very long-term unemployed (unemployed over two years) dropped more drastically than the number of people long-term unemployed for less than two years.

Finally, there is also a continuous improvement and convergence amongst Member States regarding youth unemployment, which has also strongly decreased in the countries most affected by the crisis.

On the same note, what are some of the major issues that still need to be overcome? And do you think that coworking, for example, could act as a solution to these challenges?

The new industrial revolution will have a serious impact on our current social models. Automation and artificial intelligence will transform the way we work and produce. New types of employment are emerging. They impact standard job patterns, they transform the relationship between employers and employees, they revisit work organisation.

The overall impact of automation and artificial intelligence in regards to job quantity is unclear. Studies show that the net effect is expected to be positive, with more new jobs being created than being replaced. However, a reallocation of human resources to more productive uses will not happen automatically. The new jobs created will require different skills and competencies over those jobs that will eventually disappear. Without complementary action to prepare the workforce for the future, there is a risk of unsuitable skills, unemployment, and social tensions.


“Just like so many other industries, Real Estate will be revolutionized by digital and coworking” – Mischa Schlemmer

Architect and economist, Mischa Schlemmer, was introduced to coworking while she was working on her Masters Degree. The focus of Mischa’s research was economic development of creative clusters at the LSE, which stayed with her as she moved on to ultimately work on building up Google’s Paris office.

Since then, Mischa has become a notable expert on the role of technology in today’s workplace, taking into account the rise of remote workers, globalization and a need for a better work/life balance. Currently, she is focused on helping conscious community leaders attract, engage and maintain optimal creativity and collaboration through emotional intelligence, peak performance and flow state.

Hi, Mischa. Can you please tell us about the role coworking has played throughout your career?

When I was building Google’s office in Paris, I reflected on their approach to building their own private creative cluster, aka Googleplex. Complete with all the perks and amenities to attract, engage and retain the best and brightest “smart creatives” as CEO Erick Schmit calls them, I recognized a lot of similarities between these creative clusters and the overall coworking philosophy and practices. I also noticed that Google was drawing on the same creative engagement and community building approaches that I had originally experienced in my “studio” shared workspace while in architecture school.

I began talking to my real-estate development colleagues and friends about coworking as it became a fast evolving trend, acting as a catalyst for more flexible relationships between office space operators and workers. This led me to become fascinated by the intersection of coworking’s bottom up approach, user generated solutions that compliment and contrast with the corporate top-down model, as well as hybrid models for nurturing creativity and collaboration.

As you are interested in how globalization influences workplaces, what are some of the ways that a global workforce has inspired the future of work movement?

With the introduction of more open communication channels, producers (entrepreneurs) who need support to bring their product or service to market can now easily connect to investors and venture capital who seek to invest their gains back into the market, which is ultimately driving the “start up” business model.

For the global workforce, there is a greater need for emotional intelligence and intercultural awareness, as well as harboring more sensitivity and diplomacy as a way to understand the needs, wants and expectations of diverse consumers, workers, investors, and governments around the world.

How has coworking, as a global movement, influenced real estate?

In regards to commercial office real estate, the relationship between landlords and tenants has changed. The shift towards “startup” business culture means that companies are created to test market demands, and they are subsequently not willing to carry the financial or operational risk as well as the demand for long-term leases.

The financial crisis led to tightening up of overhead budgets across the corporate sector and today an increasing amount of companies are exploring more flexible workspace agreements and provisions for their employees to attract, retain and engage talent/workers. Overall, contemporary businesses need flexibility and outsourced pay-as-you-go services and support.

Mischa Schlemmer

Mischa Schlemmer

The coworking model translated into space as a service model is highly flexible and customizable. In the past, landlords contracted with a company paid the end user to show up every day to occupy the workstation, but now the coworking model is more similar to a hotel where the space operator sells space as a service to end users who have specific expectations and demands. Developers, brokerages, and landlords need to understand this service and ultimately design for and accommodate the expanding diversity of needs and expectations of end users.

What are the challenges that real estate still faces today?

The biggest challenges faced by the real-estate sector today is keeping up and staying ahead of the radical changes that are constantly challenging longstanding expensive and heavily administrative traditional processes associated with the industry. The real estate sector is perhaps the last to be overhauled by the digital revolution due to the scale and permanence of the product. But, real estate will be revolutionized just like so many other industries, from music, health, financial, education, public service, agriculture, etc.

What can more corporate enterprises do to actually make room for innovation? 

Listen! Listen! Listen! Build trusting open engaged communication within their communities and ask the community members (investors, leaders, workers, consumers, partners, etc) what they want and need. Also, make sure to ask exactly how they want to help contribute to the community. Set up clear agreements and buy-in about the vision and value of the community identity or brand. Use internal CRM (contact relationship management) to track and support each community member’s growth and evolution. Empower community members to participate and serve the community in a way that feels generative for them.

What would be the best steps to take to create an original model that actually fits your community?

Make it a priority and co-create a plan that enables regular practice and engagement.

In what ways can corporate companies use coworking values in a genuine way? 

Focus on each community member as a cherished and special talent worth getting to know by unlocking their inner power of networks, creativity, and collaborative synergies.  Create programming and personalized support to help each community member explore the edges of their comfort zone in a safe and supportive environment.  Let go of control and focus on trust and empowerment.

What can the coworking industry do to maintain their values while also benefitting from financial partnerships with corporations? 

Use the emotional intelligence skills of coworking operators to make sure you have connected and clear values while you build a vision of the community identity/ brand. Make sure you also take the time to co-create a mutually beneficial relationship agreement with a practice plan of how to grow the relationship of the partnership.

Finally, how can these workspace models of the future influence the way that we build and organize our cities? (In the way that we promote better living for all)

Workplaces are becoming a place that you choose to go to because it helps you access the full potential of your mind, body, and imagination. This fundamental shift in the way we relate work to salary slavery s towards a more supportive environment that caters to self-actualization of optimized unique individuals will have a profound impact on city design. For example, more specialized neighborhood creative clusters with clear communication of common values and vision to attract like-minded neighbors, and business.

We will see an increase in coworking and coliving models, as well as more organized opportunities to volunteer time and energy towards purposeful service that will be integrated into city life.

“People come to colive for various reasons, but they stay for the community”-Stephanie Cornell, Old Oak Collective

In 2010, Reza Merchant was in his last year of university, having a hard time finding an affordable place to live that wasn’t in shambles. Over the years, Merchant and his team started to see more and more issues within the housing market and a lack of supply for a growing demand.

We caught up with Stephanie from the Old Oak Collective, the latest member to join London’s coliving movement, to learn more about what direction coliving is moving and what this concept will bring to professionals living in urban areas.

Hi Stephanie, Can you please tell us about the Old Oak development process and what we can expect from this coliving concept?

We started to purchase derelict buildings and refurbishing them, which is when The Collective brand was created. We identified a gap in the market for high-quality housing for young professionals, who crave a hassle-free way of living, hence our all-inclusive service offering. For example, a single monthly bill covers rent, council tax, all utility bills, room clean, linen change, 24/7 security, and wi-fi. This convenience element is designed to give time-poor professionals more free time to pursue their passions/hobbies or simply to enjoy some more free time.

During this time we gathered feedback from members and conducted surveys which reinforced what we believed; namely that increasingly our generation are more willing to invest in experiences over material possessions, and to share these experiences with a close community of like-minded individuals.

How did the design play a role in the process?

Refurbishing existing buildings had prevented us from providing the communal space needed to facilitate these shared experiences and interactions, which became a priority when looking for space to build our first purpose built co-living building.

When we bought the site in Old Oak we were excited by the opportunity to deliver a wealth of communal space and amenities, as it is 12,000 sq ft in total!

Can coliving provide a real solution to rising real estate prices in London?

It’s an answer to both the increasing rental prices, which are alienating the workers who are the lifeblood of London’s economy. Coliving is also a solution that could cater to the changing lifestyle trends of our generation, who’s ambitions and expectations are very different to that of previous generations, and to whom the current rental market simply doesn’t cater to.

 How does the Collective Old Oak specifically help to meet contemporary needs?

At The Collective Old Oak we are offering all-inclusive bill and access to various amenities, including a gym, spa, and rooftop terrace. And of course, you are also gaining access to a ready- made community of people in similar stages of their life journey to you, and that’s something you can’t put a price on.You are not just renting a bed or a room; you’re buying into a lifestyle.

What has been the initial response to coliving in your experience?

It’s been so exciting to see them bring the space to life and take ownership of creating the sense of community, alongside our Community Managers.

Community library at Old Oak

Community library at Old Oak

Where there has been the occasional negative comment, it’s inevitably come from people who haven’t visited Old Oak and who don’t understand the concept of co-living.

From your experience, what are people looking for when they decide to colive? 

From what we’ve seen over the past couple of months is that people move in for various different reasons, whether it’s a bad experience renting in a shared apartment, or for the ease of the viewing and booking process for someone coming from abroad. Yet, once people have moved in, the reason they fall in love and ultimately stay, is because of the community.

Do you also offer workspaces such as a coworking area, etc.?

Yes. On the ground floor we have a large hot-desking area, designed to feel like a lounge area, where people can take their laptops, sit in one of the armchairs and work remotely. During the day it will also serve as a coffee shop type environment, transforming into a bar in the evening for more informal meetings or social gatherings.

There is also a separate coworking space on the first floor, which is targeted at local creative and ambitious businesses and entrepreneurs. Again, the same emphasis is placed on community, convenience, and quality, making the space an attractive place to work from a cost perspective, as well as lifestyle.

Have you found that people who chose to stay at Old Oak achieve a sense of work-life balance?

It’s about giving people the choice to work from home if they want to, as the younger generation are moving away from the tradition 9-5 jobs and are able to work from anywhere with a fast internet connection. While a lot of our members will want to go into their offices to get a degree of physical separation between their personal and professional lives, many will enjoy the flexibility of being able to work from home. It is also important to create a variety of inspiring spaces that make room for creativity and productivity, so that when they do choose to work from home, they have enough options so that it doesn’t feel like they are just working from bed.

As we are exploring models of work in the new economy, we would like to hear the opinion/experiences of people who are actively engaging in these models. Would you say that coliving is an obvious transition from more traditional coworking?

I think there are definitely many parallels that can be drawn between the two – as I mentioned earlier the same emphasis on community, convenience and quality is placed on both, to cater to co-livers and coworkers demands. Both have the same start-up, social mentality at their core.

In terms of coliving and coworking do you think the marriage of these two concepts could risk blurring the lines between work/life balance? 

I think that more and more, our generation are pursuing their passions, following their dreams. So actually working long hours and always being “on” isn’t necessarily a chore, but a source of enjoyment and personal satisfaction. Of course, it can be a risk though and it’s incredibly important to strike a healthy balance, which is why our programme of events encourages people to get away from their desks and join a yoga lesson, inspiring talk, film night, book club or the regular free rooftop BBQ and drinks.

How could a coliving space help enable people to really embrace the sharing/new economy, through events, workshops, etc.

We actually have a very active Facebook page for our Old Oak community, which members use for everything from reporting a maintenance issue to sharing events with each other. A common theme that we’ve seen emerging is people using it to share the cost of, for example, buying their groceries. We have one member, Tracy, who regularly cooks amazing meals in large batches, which she then offers to others as dinner portions, at a very low price. It’s a win win for everyone!

Social Workplace Conference – Distilling communities of talents (London 2016)

The second year of The Social Workplace Conference in London opened with high spirits, leading a day of engaging talks, inspiration and of course, that wonderful feeling of community.

Pier Mucelli from eOffice kicked off the day discussing the origins of coworking and the pioneers that lead the way in distinct classifications such as public spaces and members clubs. The first coworking spaces in the world were launched in the early 2000’s. The format has since grown and now includes branded incumbents WeWork, our special hosts for the event.

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Whilst the likes of WeWork, Google Campus and Regus, to name but a few, are globally recognised brands in the sector, they collectively share only 15% of total market share, meaning that 85% of the market share is absorbed by independent providers. Giving a lot of opportunity for these independent providers to shape the culture and purpose of their co-working outfits.

“Distilling a community of talent”

But why are coworking spaces becoming so popular? Hillary Deppeler, Brand Marketing and Partnerships Director for WeWork EMEA, explained that the demographic shift of the way people work and want to engage means that the workplace must become vibrant places that provide connectivity, allowing members to focus on their work by taking care of the common facilities. Members are increasingly connecting through the WeWork app where they can post jobs, seek skills and meet new people in multiple directions, whilst leveraging the USP of their global community that has evolved organically. 146603524138223

Talking about community, the audience was awed with Sarah Turnbull from Bootstrap London who is creating a community by doing good. She illustrated the the story of doing good through selecting occupants with social and community based impact. Infectious inspiration that reminded us of how so many lives can be impacted by the communities we wish to build and the talents that can be nurtured within these communities.

“Building a community by doing good”

Is coworking a popular mode only for freelancers and millennials?!

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According to JLL’s research on a new era of coworking, this is not the case. As corporations vie to retain talent and facilitate innovation, the real estate firm has seen increasing demand from corporates to utilise this work mode for its personnel. This can be achieved through various models, explained Karen Williamson and Maciej Markowski, from JLL : internal collaboration, coworking memberships and internal / external coworking spaces, with various benefits and downsides to each. Rob Fitzpatrick, Confluence Partnerships, highlighted the design of the workplace and its impact on the psyche, adding to the need for corporates and organisations to design environments that are conducive to the productivity, social connectivity and mental health of its workforce.

Highlighting the evolution of the workplace and architectural design of workspaces throughout time, Oliver Marlow from Studio Tilt succinctly argued that space, creativity, community and innovation are symbiotic by-products impacted by the physical environment. Creativity and collaboration as social capital can be fostered in environments where emotional intelligence and flow form a part of the design and community building process. Mischa Schlemmer emphasized the need to be authentic in order to build a community, but to also engage and serve the community in order to attract and retain members or for corporates, their personnel.


As if that wasn’t stimulating enough, the afternoon workshops were engines for thought and discussion. Followed by a heated debate on the closing panel, where our American counterparts, Frank Cottle from Alliance Virtual Offices and Liz Elam from GCUC finally agreed that community is a feature of a coworking space, and needs constant development, maintenance and aligning values. Community was a much talked about topic for the day, highlighting the humanistic need to belong and relate to others. This human characteristic has not changed in millennia. As we enter a new age of industrial revolution, the future looks like a great forecast for community not only in our personal lives, but also in the workplace.

Written by Letitia Seglah on June 15 2016

Pictures by Deskmag

Find the different presentations here below or here.