Category: Technology

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.

CHECK OUT SOCIALWORKPLACES.COM UPCOMING EVENTS

“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.

CHECK OUT SOCIALWORKPLACES.COM UPCOMING EVENTS

 

“The word Digital Nomad doesn’t reflect the big trends behind the movement”- Sophie Ozdzinski, CoPass

Like many coworking projects, Copass was created out of necessity. Three years ago the coworking membership program, that now has a network of 700 plus individuals and companies around the globe, was born. Since the majority of Copass founders have been involved in the coworking movement since its very beginning, creating a network came naturally. With friends and fellow coworking space owners all over the world, it seemed natural to develop a way for people, not just digital nomads, to easily work from any of the numerous unique spaces around the world.

Sophie Ozdzinski, one of the four Copass founders, spoke with us about what it means to be professional in a time where we can work from anywhere.

Hi, Sophie. Can you please tell us a bit more about what Copass offers to coworkers? 

Today we are capable of working from anywhere.  Our platform offers freelancers, independents, digital nomads and remote workers the ability to work everywhere. This is the freedom to work across the street, across town, across the country or across an ocean, today. For companies, this flexibility means to go global. We offer startups and firms an elegant solution to their low-overhead, high-flexibility workplace needs. This is the simplicity of one worldwide membership to hundreds of spaces, today.

We still have a lot to achieve and a lot of exciting features to develop – with our recurrent question: Does it make the access to coworking communities easier for our members?

How did you realize that there was real digital nomad community developing that would allow for a platform like Copass to be successful?

Well, when we started Copass we didn’t even focus on the digital nomad community. There actually wasn’t even a name for this community. We’ve developed Copass to answer a need we already had ourselves, and we guessed that there would be more and more people willing to travel and work at the same time. We were right on this prediction!

Copass Camp

Copass Camp

Our focus is on everyone who needs flexible and enjoyable places to work from. The majority of our users actually use different spaces in the same city and aren’t digital nomads per say. Some do use it in many countries, but this is just a part of our users. We want to facilitate mobility at work and this is not limited to digital nomads.

That being said, the digital nomad community definitely exists today and it keeps on growing at an impressive rate. As a team, are part of this amazing community. We’ve met many people from this movement during the camps we’ve been organizing around the globe. Our camps act as temporary coliving/coworking communities based out of cool places like Lisbon, the Canary Islands, San Francisco, Bali and more…

Copass has been active long enough to see the coworking community grow and change. What are some of the major changes that have taken place?  

Soon after we launched Copass, we took part in the Digital Nomad (DNX) Conference in Berlin. Since then, we’ve attended the event multiple times. The last one for us was in Bangkok. The kind of people attending those events has clearly changed a lot over the years. We went from a vast majority of people dreaming of being digital nomads to a vast majority of people actually living the digital nomad lifestyle. We went from an idea to a reality.

That being said, there are different breeds of digital nomads. Some stay more than 6 months in each place and some only stay for a few days or weeks. Some travel full time, others only travel 3 months or less a year. Some have a place they call home, some don’t. What they all share is a desire to explore new places while getting some work done and having the flexibility to work anywhere.

Sophie Ozdzinski

Sophie Ozdzinski

As for statistics, it’s hard to find to find concrete ones concerning the movement. Digital Nomads are hard to define, as they are scattered over the globe and they are pretty independent people who aren’t in a permanent state. I am convinced the vast majority of digital nomads will only be full-time nomads for a small time in their lives. Probably somewhere between 1 and 5 years. At some point, people can get a bit tired of the loneliness or might want to settle down and have a family. Right now, it’s still pretty complicated to combine family and nomadism, although some people do it, it’s still very niche.

Overall, growth in the digital nomad movement is mainly something we all feel and experience, not something that produces concrete numbers. It’s definitely something that would help the movement.

In your opinion, why are coworking spaces so important to the development of remote professional communities?

When you work remotely, you can quickly suffer from loneliness and procrastination. In fact, loneliness and isolation are by far the number 1 problem that digital nomads report. That explains why camps like Copass have been so successful. It’s the best of both worlds.

Working from a coworking space helps remote workers to meet new people, and get their work done in a stimulating environment. Coworking spaces are fantastic gateways to new places where you can quickly meet like-minded people from around the world speaking several languages.

What are some of the current demands of digital nomads today?  

The digital nomad movement is at a stage where the term is now being taken seriously. It is intriguing to a lot of people. Some are in a more traditional job and dream of becoming nomads, some run large companies and can see the trend of nomadism and remote work.

How have they created a standard for remote work?

I believe digital nomadism and remote work can be a real chance for companies, especially those who struggle to recruit and retain talents in the younger generation, to grow. From our experience, and for many millennials, being offered the opportunity to work anywhere, at least part time, is a huge advantage. Some say it also is a good way to cut real estate costs for companies, but most of the time new types of expenses like company retreats will diminish this advantage.

What do you see as the potential workplace norm for the majority of employees in the future?

The problem with the word Digital Nomad is that it doesn’t reflect the big trends behind this movement. Not everybody can / wants to / will be a digital nomad. The big trend is that today a lot of work can be done from anywhere on a laptop as efficiently if not more than in a traditional office. This is the real new thing.

Whether people choose to travel the world, settle in the countryside, work from the local café, keep on going to the office is another story. We simply cannot ignore this new fact and organization and individuals can choose to redefine the way they work with this in mind. Offices will stay, but their form will change to match this new reality. Digital Nomadism is simply an extreme and very visible part of this massive change.

The digital nomad community has been criticized as only catering to a more elite class of workers. Do you think that there is a way that remote work could be available to more people? 

Becoming a remote worker is not so much a question of prices or revenues, it’s more a question of mindset and opportunities. All professions can’t be done abroad and some never will be. For example, the fact that being a digital nomad is expensive is a total myth. In fact, most nomads are nomads because the money they earn can afford them a much better lifestyle in Bali than in Paris or NYC. With 1500€ in Bali, you can live a very comfortable life, whereas you’ll struggle in Paris.

The limiting factor for digital nomadism is more about who CAN be a nomad, meaning who has the profession and freedom that allows it, and who WANTS to be a nomad. Not everybody wants this lifestyle.

“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 freelancer.com 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, Freelancer.com 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 freelancer.com 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 Feelancer.com 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 freelancer.com 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 freelancer.com. 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 freelancer.com 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 freelancer.com. 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.

Coworking gives people in Afghanistan a chance to reach global markets – Kamal Syed (Daftar)

Syed Kamal, one of the core team members of Afghanistan’s first ever coworking space, is a firm believer in coworking as a catalyst for change. Under the very first coworking space in the country, Daftar, was founded in Kabul. Syed Kamal, one of the core team members of Afghanistan’s first ever coworking space, is a firm believer in coworking as a catalyst for change. Under the Afghanistan Center for Excellence the very first coworking space in the country, Daftar, was founded in January, 2016.

Daftar was inspired by a trip taken by Suleman Fatimie, the space’s founder after a trip to New York City when he visited a friend’s space in the city. 7 months ago, Daftar opened its doors and since then the waiting list has grown while also inspiring a wave of socially oriented projects.

We caught up with Syed Kamal to learn more about the future of coworking in Afghanistan.

Hi, Syed Kamal. Can you tell us a bit about what kind of community you have grown so far and are they mostly freelance or do they work for established companies?

Mostly they are working for companies, who don’t have an established office. They are new businesses and startups that tried to work at home or in other spaces, but they were in need of a more sophisticated work environment. Of course, we want to cater to freelancers and even foreigners, but that will take some time for us to generate that type of community.

Tell us about the clients you have so far and is there much demand for the space?

In the coworking space, we have several clients. We have members from the Microsoft the others we have Environment Watch Afghanistan (EWA), a social movement started in Kabul environmental issues, we have founder’s institute businesses and starts ups to function in Kabul they provide advice we have given the desk and we have graphics branding technology for the Center for excellence. We also have given space, free of charge, to the Kabul model of united nations which we provide them space for free.

What are some of the challenges startups and freelancers face? And, how can coworking help them overcome these obstacles?

There are few reasons that workers need to find a space where they can work in peace, which isn’t readily available in Afghanistan. Daftar provides much needed professional amenities, such as a fully equipped space, which is also a very secure office.

In addition to the physical space, we are all professionals who have been running the ACE for the 3 ½ years, we can also offer much-needed advice to our clients along the way, helping them to grow their business and customer base.

What can you say about the security in Kabul?

Security is a big concern for many professionals in Afghanistan, especially when you are in the initial growth stages. Offering a secure physical space is essential for young business and entrepreneurs in order for them to host their clients as well as meetings.

We always make sure to keep a low profile to ensure a safe and professional environment. And since security is so important, it is also part our competitive edge, allowing our members the freedom do business smoothly and professionally.

Do you think coworking could help relieve some of the stresses caused by job losses and financial strains in your country?

Unemployment is high and as result freelancing and startups are something people are starting to explore. I wouldn’t say that everyone is exploring freelancing but many of them are because they have no other way. Another problem is that currently our government is not very structured and while there could be employment opportunities available, it could take another 5 years for people to actually get hired.

In terms of relieving these stresses, I would also say that coworking can give people the chance to reach global markets, I can tell you people are interested, and they get a chance to connect and grow through digital communities.

As coworking is quite new in Afghanistan, what was the initial response to the space?

Trust in Afghanistan is a big part of working together. Many businesses are family based, so it’s all interconnected, and much of the trust built is through face to face interactions. At the Center for Excellence our team is established and very well known in the community, so people know that we are trustworthy.

A major challenge for freelancers is that their idea might be taken from them, as is common when people are introduced to new styles of working and collaboration. As we are known to support individual and intellectual rights, we make freelancers feel safe and supported. Thus, as a result, the response to Daftar has been great. And, we can see now from emails and requests that people are more and more interested. The trust is there and it’s mainly because we built a trustworthy hands-on community. This local connection has also helped the word spread internationally.

Do you expect more coworking spaces to pop up now that you have laid the foundation?

I don’t see any immediate competition in the future. In Kabul, maintaining security and space can be expensive, and people would have to pay around 600 per month. We currently offer space for around 175 a month.

We have also offer our community a certain exclusivity. We allow them to work together, sit together creating their own community, but at the same time, we are always available to help. In this way, we are only of the only workspaces that make room for this type of organic professional growth.

In the future would you be willing to collaborate with other spaces, or offer them advice?

Yes, we absolutely believe in growing with others in whatever way we can. Our knowledge is still in the early stages, but the idea to start a coworking space was already there 2 years ago.

We believe in constructive competition, and if a project will have a positive impact we are always willing to help. Some advice that we could already offer is helping other space identify their market and locations. In our space, we support out members and provide them space, while also giving them the chance to become out clients. This experience has given us experience in providing strategic resources and we understand that business in Afghanistan needs that information in order to expand their opportunities.

Do you see coworking as a platform that could push for positive change in Afghanistan?

I would say Afghanistan is new to a few things. There are so many issues within the country that it can be difficult for professional to have access to opportunities and the coworking space model is still developing here. But, we actually already see that social initiatives are taking place in a big way.

For example, we have one client working on environmental issues and they had an open call for everyone to participate in the event, which was a social gathering focused on discussing how can we conserved water, electricity, air pressure, and everyone was discussing the issues and everyone was contributing. It was wonderful to see. We also were joined by media and several civil society organizations.

How important is social responsibility for Daftar?

We are of course business, but we believe deeply in social responsibility and I happy to say our clients and model allows for social change. We see a lot of giving back to society.

We offer one of our clients, the Kabul model of United Nations, space free of charge, and this also contributes to our community as we have the privilege of being a part of such positive social movements We see the future value in offering services that don’t necessarily have to generate profit right away.

We also have an initiative that called “Don’t let good food go to waste” where we go to wedding halls who at as our social partners and when there is a wedding we go and take the good food which is healthy and fresh and used by the guests and we take them this food to the less privileged community in Kabul. We have been doing this for the past 5 months. In addition to that project, we have a similar one, which is a winter initiative aimed to help the less privileged, especially for those who run their business on the streets, where we bring warm clothing. There are all projects that we believe in giving back to the socially and creating a like-minded community that will grow and be sustainable in the future.

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!

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“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.

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“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!