Tag: Coworking

“Office building landlords will be more and more asked to provide with amenities and community experience”

Petr Boruta is the Marketing Manager at Spaceflow, a platform that provides a global tenant experience platform and community engagement as a service that uplift the experience for people in spaces and buildings. Petr is a well-informed expert of what is happening in the workplace market and below we share some of his thoughts, insights and experience.

Hi Petr. Why is Central Europe worth considering today, would you say, with respect to the evolution of the coworking market practices?

Globally, London, New York and Los Angeles are still the top three cities in the number of coworking centres. However, the coworking map, I would say, is evolving rapidly. In Europe, for instance Warsaw and Prague are now becoming  new hotbeds for shared offices. 

When I visited the CEE Summit (Central and Eastern Europe Summit) organized by Property EU and Poland Today magazine, what strucked me was how CEE is already progressive on topics that push boundaries in real estate. In the breakout session that covered current trends, people were mentioning how they enjoy being in coworking.

One of the participants said that he does not mind anymore to go to the « coworking » office during the weekend (if he has to) compared to his former (traditional) office. The motivation doesn’t come from the flexibility or from the physical amenities, like humming coffee machine – although they’re super convenient, don’t get me wrong. What’s appealing at coworking spaces is the possibility to meet people.

What learning do you take from the anecdote?

Humans are by nature social beings. Events, more breakout opportunities and random conversations in the kitchen. That’s where ideas sprout. As a matter of fact, participants of that conversation at the CEE Summit did not mention community in particular straight away. But when suggested, they all agreed it was the key factor.

So?

We think about community as something natural – but actually, it’s not easy to build it up from a random herd of people. According to CBRE 2018 Occupier Survey, more than 80% of tenants perceive amenities as integral to the employee experience and 65% think service-oriented amenities are more important than fixed space-based amenities. Delos, the founder of the WELL standard, is right when it stresses that creating a culture of health and wellness in which employees actively participate, is more than providing a gym and healthy items in the cafeteria or introducing a corporate challenge.

In another survey, respondents claim that they want their workspace to feel more like a community and that they expect landlords will participate in providing this experience.

That’s where flexible office spaces win it all with their workshops and social events. That’s also why, at Spaceflow, we encourage real estate players to think about curated content and community management in order to drive the engagement of people. It’s so important.

Would you say that real estate developers are now ready to figure out that people need more than just a roof and walls to work from?

Absolutely. Landlords and developers used to be rather sceptical about this serviced-office trend. That’s true. If they were to embrace it, then, they rather acquired a seasoned provider who was specialised in that. Nowadays, things are changing rapidly. We see more of those real estate players getting involved in building service by themselves, without much hassle.

In CEE, HB Reavis made a very clever move by starting a new brand, HubHub. Skanska acquired Business Link. In the US, Tishman Speyer has launched Studio. And then you have CBRE  which launched its own coworking brand, Hana, in the US and one cannot doubt they will be rolling-out to Europe.

We see it expanding to 15% or 20% of the (global) market”, according to Andrew Kupiec, the CEO at Hana.

That being said, as Coworking Mag suggests, catching up with other players will be tough when you have competitors like WeWork, Regus and Knotel who have hundreds of coworking spaces already.

Who will take the juiciest slice of the market, do you think? Big international coworking brands or coworking services developed by Real Estate developers?

As participants of the aforementioned CEE Summit agreed, providing 100% of all their assets as coworking spaces would be too risky. Nevertheless, traditional real estate players are now moving into coworking business in CEE at the same speed or at an even more rapid pace as in other regions. Time will tell who’s going to be the winner but Asia Pacific region, where coworking is gainin  its true momentum, future-proofed that developers are successful with coming up with their own brands.

To come back on the market drives, do you see another reason for the rising popularity of flexible offices, aside of the appeal for communities and amenities?

Definitely: modern company structure. A typical small business life span is 4 years. 4 years! The average life span of 500 Fortune company has dropped from 60 years in the 1950s to about 15 years now. 99% of London companies employ less than 50 people. The simple truth is nobody can predict 5, 10, let alone 15 years ahead in this rapidly changing economy. As JLL puts in its 2017 Flexible Space report, “most organizations only have 24 months of revenue projections and 36 months of strategic planning”. Average lease agreement exceeding 5 years significantly is in sharp contrast with this.

Image source: JLL Flexible Space Report, 2017

It’s almost a no brainer for traditional real estate to build coworking themselves when you consider these numbers: CBRE says 45 % of corporations expect substantial to moderate usage of flexible space by 2020. JLL is forecasting revolution by predicting that by 2030, flexible space will comprise of up to 30% of all offices.

It means corporations will also have to embrace the coworking move, isn’t it?

Again, yes, The most staggering number is that 41% (!) of all leased or owned corporate office space in the U.S. is vacant but paid for. The cost of this is roughly 150 billion USD and what is even more surprising is that the percentages are pretty consistent internationally.

Something is happening and it’s here to stay. What’s clear is that we need a way more effective approach to how we use spaces, one that is more flexible to evolving business needs.

What if you have coffee places with underused premises and people can book a desk through an app for a few hours to work?. Or what if you have restaurants that fill with workers during the mornings. This isn’t sci-fi but a reality already taking place. It’s all just a question of scale.

“Nowadays, to dedicate 15-25% of a building to coworking pushes the value of the building up”

Last week we talked to Adam Lis, in charge of flexible office solutions at JLL Poland. Adam is a real estate professional, with experience in coworking after having worked for Brain Embassy, a Polish coworking brand. We are happy to share below some of his thoughts, ideas and expertise and we also look forward to welcoming him in our Coworking Europe Conference as one of our 2019 speakers, in Warsaw.

Adam Lis

Hi Adam, what is your take on the relationship between Coworking and the real estate it is located in?

As has been pointed out in other articles, there is a big discussion on how coworking spaces – as tenants – influence yields on office properties. In our experience, landlords have started to see value in having a part of the building occupied by a coworking space and are oftentimes proactively looking to bring them on board. There are many theories on how big the influence is, but the market practice shows that having around 15-25% of an asset dedicated to flex operator has a positive impact on the value of the building, as it represents a desired amenity for other tenants.

Some new deals for corporate clients are already built on the paradigm of mixing traditional long-term lease agreements with flexible space arrangements to complement them. We at JLL have already started to tailor such hybrid solutions for corporate clients, mixing traditional offices with coworking capacity.

What is your experience of the evolution of flexible workspace in Poland?

As in the rest of Europe, the rise of flexible office spaces is the hottest trend on the market in Poland. The volume of operating and secured flexible spaces in major cities reached 250,000 sq m in the end of 2018. Naturally, as the capital and the most important business destination in the country, Warsaw accounts for over ¾ of this volume, but the overall trend is also becoming more and more influential in regional cities.

Like it has happened in other markets, the entrance of WeWork in the end of last year has acted as a catalyst for the flex segment, kickstarting its development and forcing the competition to expand faster. Flex operators have leased an astonishing 112,000 m² in Warsaw last year, which accounts for 13% of the total office space demand. Interestingly, over half of it came from just two players: WeWork and IWG (Regus & Spaces).

Have revenue share deals already arrived in Poland?

Revenue share deals between flexible office providers and landlords are still scarce in Poland. It’s mainly due to the risk aversion of the latter, as well as their strong position, given the vacancy rate in Warsaw’s Central zones now stands at ca. 5%, which is the lowest since 2009. This means that availability of lease options in existing developments here is extremely limited. Therefore landlords don’t see the need to try out new business models. Management agreements seem, however, to work better at less attractive locations and buildings, where landlords are pushed to be more innovative in order to lease their assets.

Where do you see the market moving? Can small boutique spaces survive against international chains?

Image Sourse: Hotel Schani Wien – coworking lobby

The whole office market is rapidly changing as big players expand and grow the market, especially by attracting corporate clients. Smaller ones on the other hand emerge and push from the bottom. We see some landlords and developers experimenting with their own coworking concepts. Hotels and shopping malls are trying to find their place in this new segment too. I believe that the market will become more and more competitive, but also that there will be enough space for a variety of highly specialized niche providers. It seems like the market is heading towards a world where coworking is becoming the new workplace.

I believe that the market will become more and more competitive, but also that there will be enough space for a variety of highly specialized niche providers.

 

 

Softbank backed OYO buys Innov8 for $31 Mio: “We will deliver great quality experience to real estate customers as well”

Innv8 is among the first coworking brand launched in India. Last month, the company was bought by one of the biggest Indian hotel platform, OYO, for a total of 31 millions US$. Meanwhile, OYO announced the takeover of two other coworking brands (PowerStation, for corporations, and Workflow, more focused on startups), demonstrating a strong will to develop its position in the coworking field. Interesting to note, OYO is supported by Softbank, one of WeWork’s main investors. Innov8 is the fourth coworking acquisition by OYO. We interviewed Ritesh Malik, Innov8‘s founder, about the vision behind the deal.

Hi Ritesh. Can you tell us the story behind Innov8?

We launched our first centre at the Heart of New Delhi- Connaught in December 2015. We wanted to revolutionise how Indian work. Innov8 is not just a place for people to work, it’s a place for people to connect. We at Innov8 want to transform real estate into a beautiful and premium workspace designed to encourage community engagement for the creators and innovators. In June 2016, US-based fund Y-Combinator backed Innov8 for its investment in the coworking industry.

We were hoping to create a collaborative community where business opportunities and activities can take place freely. We were committed to delivering excellence through design, experience, and services. Our Vision was to revolutionize real estate into beautifully designed, experience centers to empower the process and journey of creating meaningful work. Our Mission: to be World’s Most Loved Workspace brand through excellence in design, experience and delivering value.

Innov8 is now taken over by OYO. Why are the two companies complementary?

Ritesh Malik, Innov8

Innov8 and OYO are both in the business of real estate and hospitality. It’s a perfectly complementary business. OYO already has a strong play in the real estate market worldwide both as a tenant and as a supplier, with existing offerings like OYO Home, OYO LIFE, Weddigz.in and MICE offerings. Also, OYO already has thousands of corporate customers that help generate over 30% of OYO’s business. Additionally, in India, OYO works with over 8.000 asset owners, and many of them have ready space available for commercial business. The decision to, therefore, open managed workspaces is a natural transition and step forward. With vast experience of acquiring properties, creating processes and great user experiences, it will be great backing on Innov8 scalability.

 

With vast experience of acquiring properties, creating processes and great user experiences, it will be great backing on Innov8 scalability.

OYO is known in India as a hotel booking platform. Coworking seems quite far away from their focus, no? 

Firstly, OYO is not a hotel booking platform. OYO is a full-scale tech-driven hospitality company that operates over 18.000 franchised and leased hotels across 10 countries and 500+ cities globally. Interestingly, the company has globally leased or franchised over 200 million square feet of real estate, and have emerged as a preferred tenant of choice. Thousands of real estate owners around the world work with OYO and respect the company’s ability to upgrade all forms of real estate and deliver good quality experiences. OYO is also amongst the most preferred lesses and franchisors of real estate yields worldwide.

Over the last six years, OYO has invested heavily in building key competencies, where our operational expertise in supply acquisition and management, renovation, operations, revenue management, and distribution, through both offline and online channels, that has helped the company gain significant momentum, and emerge as the most preferred brand in the budget to mid-segment hospitality space in several markets like India and China.

We are certain that OYO’s existing competencies and international reach, will help us seamlessly deliver great quality experiences to our real estate customers as well. We are all therefore excited about our plans to create and deliver chic workspaces that will be designed to provide a hassle-free, comfortable and productive experience to coworkers, and cost-effective workspace solutions to corporates.

According to you, what does the transaction say about the office and workplace industry moving to a hospitality and services model?

The managed office space industry is inherently a unique combination of hospitality led real estate experience. With this transaction, it is a huge validation for Innov8 and the whole industry. The industry is extremely positive with the potential of office spaces market.

How would you define hospitality in the workplace world?

More than desks, chairs, coffee and office infrastructure, workspaces should provide the environment and support to make every company and coworkers grow and do their best work. Our community and value-added services make Innov8 a second home; creating an ethos of happiness at the workplace.

Would you say the Indian market is specific for this kind of approach?

Indian market is ripe for managed office spaces. India is one of the most penetrated markets by managed offices.

Startups are driving the coworking demand in India. Do you see or expect coworking to become a solution for SME and bigger corporations? Is it already happening? What’s Innov8 experience on those regards?

It is already happening. SME and bigger corporates now accepting the trend and it is beneficial for both the industry. Managed offices are the way to go for any workspace needs. At Innov8, we have already been focussing on and catering to ME and corporation. Majority of our clients are SME or corporates.

What are the specific challenges Indian coworking players have to face, nowadays, to keep up with the pace of growth?

Identify prime properties, capital, and speed of scale.

Lately, we are reading that big international players such as Airbnb are also looking towards the coworking business. Do you think this can work? Why?

The coworking or managed office market is huge with rooms for different price points and variation of the product/ service.

Do OYO and Innov8 have plans to grow beyond India?

We plan to expand and cater to the huge Indian market first.

In general, Indian coworking brands are not very active outside India, yet. Do you expect it to change? 

Yes, most definitely. There is a lot of potential. Having said that, we are currently focused on strengthening our business in India. Once we have nailed it, then the sky’s the limit.

“CoWomen is more than just a coworking space: our vision is to support the next generation of female leaders”

Berlin based CoWomen is a community club and a coworking space for “driven women”. The space focuses on women on the rise. CoWomen, explain the founders, supports those “women on the rise” to achieve their goals with a workspace with beautiful atmosphere, experts and masterclasses to develop professional and personal skills and community events to find inspiration for the big goals. Hannah Dahl and Sara-Marie Wiechmann are two of the three co-founders.

Hello Hannah and Sara. Can you introduce the CoWomen project you run?

We aim at offering the perfect membership for women to build their careers and lives they love.

Our mission is to connect rising women to help them unleash their potential. We firmly believe in the positive effect of strengthening women in business and the enormous impact they can have on society and the economy. Everyone profits from more successfully working women! And because building networks is the deciding factor to achieve this, it’s what we focus on at CoWomen.

Hannah’s story is the birth of the CoWomen idea: When my first son was three months old I started to work again as a software and process management consultant. And while standing in the client’s bathroom pumping milk and being on the phone with colleagues, I started to realise that we need new work spaces. Spaces with other functionalities but also other messages and other purpose. A couple of months later I thought about starting a coworking space with child care but I was happy to see that we already have amazing spaces in Berlin that provide this service and childcare was not the only pain we wanted to solve with CoWomen. After networking in female networks for a while, it really hit me. There are so many topics we share and work on as women and being amongst women is so much fun – what an energy! An idea was born. Since then, my idea has grown into a place and space that offers everything a working woman needs.

I was not alone on my journey. When I reached out for more women to join CoWomen, I didn’t have to look too far. Sara has been a colleague and work friend of mine in our former company in software consultancy for a while and she got on board really quickly.

Sara:

I have a passion for digitalisation, for change and modern feminism. I lived these topics all my life and in my studies in Cologne and London. Transitioning into our classic working world – and we were working in public management which is also culturally impacted and not known for fast innovation processes – literally meant a culture shock for me. So, I analysed this new culture I was surrounded by and tried to master it and what I found was that the women in my company were driven and going big. They were all more or less in my age group and career stage. We were heard and promoted and needed to take on responsibility. But, there were no female role models for us.

So I left the company that I liked and started my journeys with Hannah to bring those great women together and understand how we can change the classic working world we experienced.

We were heard and promoted and needed to take on responsibility. But, there were no female role models for us.

Kat is the third woman in our founding team. She is a globetrotter always passionate about amplifying women’s voices. Having gained ample marketing experience in NYC, London, and Berlin, she can create clear and human-friendly messaging and content. That’s why she is developing and executing our marketing strategy to spread the word about the amazing connections happening every day at CoWomen.

We three founders work with a lot of heart and vision to make it possible for the women to achieve what will bring them forward, whether as a community or in their personal and professional development.

Our “Code of CoWomen” makes it clear which values and goals we pursue as a community. The code also encourages you to be yourself in a professional space and to feel comfortable with what you are doing. We live by what we expect from other work environments and employers.

Why did you feel the need for a coworking for “women only” space?

Because it’s so much fun! Really, the energy that is within a women only space is unbelievable. But mainly because we experience the need to create a space that serves a specific purpose. We want to change the working world and coworking spaces are the perfect place to do so. They offer an alternative working atmosphere and the chance to talk to like minded people to make change happen together. In our case this purpose is creating a better working world for women and strengthen them so we all profit from more working women. We were networking for over a year, we see the trend of rising female networks meeting in cafes sporadically. They need a physical space to make a difference.

And in addition, we see and experienced the pain points of women in the business world so we know that these networks are more than necessary. We exchange profoundly, openly and honestly and we meet the same challenges in life. For example, we often deal with topics such as the different ways men and women communicate, leadership styles, further education, work-life integration, the compatibility of work and family, an attentive life and often also finding or creating meaningful work. So what happens in the CoWomen space is not picking on the pain points. It is striving for big dreams and big change. It’s a very special energy when there are only women in the room.

We see and experienced the pain points of women in the business world so we know that these networks are more than necessary. (…) The CoWomen space is not picking on the pain points. It is striving for big dreams and big change.

And even if we don’t call it that, the space is a kind of safe environment where women can leave their comfort zone and try out new things. Both in the role of a participant and of a workshop leader. And you simply feel more comfortable and courageous among women. Some women need the specific exchange, some women find their customers in our community and some are merely happy not to be in the minority for once. Especially women who work in areas that are currently dominated by men, such as in the tech industry or the start-up world. It is a special experience to come together with women who are just as ambitious and determined. That gives new energy for the own everyday life.

Some women need the specific exchange, some women find their customers in our community and some are merely happy not to be in the minority for once.

We are at a time when the society promote diversity and inclusivity. Isn’t there a risk to be perceived as creating a new kind of exclusivity? 

Diversity and inclusivity are a result that desperately needs to be achieved in a lot of spaces in society, yes. Especially in spaces that mean power and designing the lives as we live them. But how do you achieve a good mix in managing and powerful roles? If there is a misbalance the minority needs to get the focus. Or as Tarana Burke (Meetoo movement) would say: “It’s not about exclusion. It’s about managing the inclusion, because otherwise they will not be pulled in the centre.” As CoWomen, we focus on including the demand of the female workforce into the classic working world. And also more females. We understand that the lack of female role models is one dominant factor in some areas and we understand that exchange amongst women on professional topics is not possible in every work environment. Therefore, we focus on women.

Without entering into the discussion about where different behaviours come from, which socialisations predominate or what is biologically predetermined, we find that women often act, prioritise and decide differently than men. Of course, we are all individuals, so – as we have learned in some of our workshops – we should rather say “typically female” action deviates. However, it is guided by values that have long been demanded of a modern working world and modern leadership. Authenticity, flexibility, commitment to one’s own values, inclusion and collaboration, but at the same time independence, empowerment and adaptability. These and many other behaviours are urgently needed in a complex, individualising society and in complex markets, so we are here to push them forward. By the way, Brigitte Zypries is also one of our fans. CoWomen makes women’s lives easier and gives them the network they need to reach the top! CoWomen is more than just a coworking space. Our vision is to connect and support the next generation of female leaders. We connect them with each other as well as mentors and offer them the perfect work environment to realise their dreams. We want to feel comfortable in the rooms we work in, almost like at home.

CoWomen is more than just a coworking space. Our vision is to connect and support the next generation of female leaders.

Is there a mainstream profile of member within your community?

Women with a certain “drive” who don’t always know what they want, but have the energy and the wish to find out and pursue it. Women who want to create value for the economy and above all for society. Women who know the meaning of networks and want to live the values of our code. Our members come from different industries and have all kinds of professional situations.They mirror the typical working woman in Germany, but in regards to the aspects above. They need to want more and develop together. As you can see, we are not strictly depending on women who work with us in the space every day, but we have members who join us for an occasional work day and a lot of events after their work day is done. The majority of women at the moment are freelancers which is also a cultural phenomenon in Germany. We love that they come to our space to develop their business, their projects and themselves.

The US have been among the first to see the emergence of “for women only” coworking space: would you say the situation is similar in Europe? 

We are not sure that we have an answer to comparing the American culture to a European culture regarding female coworking spaces. From what we have seen, the call for feminism and female-only spaces in Europe is not as “loud” as in the US. In Sweden and London, there are “female focused” spaces: Spaces created by women but not only for women. We are the second space that opened for women only in Europe and we are going to open many more. There are amazing spaces for women in the US that we don’t usually read about in Germany or Europe. And they are in parts also our role models: empowering women by bringing them together and catering their needs. Without bashing men. And Kat already visited some on her last trip to the States. So we think we share our goals, but we are living our European culture as well. But most important is: we are always open for cooperation. Together we are stronger.

We are the second space that opened for women only in Europe and we are going to open many more.

Would you say the struggle for more gender balance is similar in Europe than in other places?

Gender balance is highly culturally determined and different in every society. What we are aiming for is a switch of mindset and therefore we have to understand it first. What we know is, there is huge potential in Europe and in Germany to improve leadership and work by including more females. So similar, we don’t know, but there are a lot of numbers, that show us, that balance is missing. It is hard however to compare numbers. We need to ask the right questions first. And this is where coworking can help as it creates the space to get into topics of imbalance more deeply with women who are aspiring to reach the top. So they ask the right questions to themselves already. And we all see the movement of women working together on creating this big momentum and movement towards a great female vision. In addition to that, Coworking spaces themselves are a manifestation of the problem of imbalance in the modern working world. There are women missing in a lot of coworking spaces too. In the German-speaking coworking scene we notice a big shift towards this topic. Coworkers and owners are very aware of the low number of women in their spaces, on diversity topics or are even interested in opening more female spaces.

Our vision is to create an inspiring place where aspiring women can come together to change the world of work, even the world. Together we are stronger. We care a lot about building our shared vision sustainably. In Germany, coworking spaces for women are new, even though almost everyone in Berlin already knows about “coworking”. Nevertheless, for us it is as important to take our knowledge and experiences and support organisations and companies to bring more diversity into their corporate culture. We are all faced with challenges and can master them if we take the needs of our colleagues into account and transform the world of work accordingly.

There are some clichés that a coworking space for women will naturally include a “child care” service. Your project is definitely not about that. 

Hannah:

I usually answer that there aren’t men at the space so who should take care of the kids?! Haha. But yes, this is an ambiguous topic for us. And in a very early stage as described above, we actually thought about a space that includes child care services as this was my initial impulse. But it’s not our focus now. We are learning through our work at CoWomen that family planning is (still) a classic female issue but is very far from being the only one that keeps us from taking on more responsibility in the working world. So there is a 100%-acceptance policy on family topics and the need to bring your child with you sometimes. I take my Babyboy to any (business) meeting that I have. But at the space, we focus on working and changing the working world. Our moms also do. We work on creating a narrative to change the system. It is much more than just creating places that include child care services to ease the pain of not having time to work. It is about showing the world that there are things that need to be done, women or men, with or without kids.

What are Co-Women’s plans for the coming two and five years?

Two years: Become a well-known and fast growing thought leader promoting a great free life with power and responsibility for women all over the world.
Five years: We are building an empire 😀

“The same way Uber didn’t kill the taxis, Coworking fills a void in the existing corporate real estate market”

The Coworking Europe Conference 2019 is heading to Warsaw on November 13-15th for its 10th edition. In order to get to know the local ecosystem, we have interviewed Konrad Szaruga and Natalia Kuliberda, both real estate experts who have shared with us their experience, thoughts and insights about the polish market.

Can you introduce yourself and tell us about your past and current involvement in the coworking fields?

Konrad Szaruga: “I have 10 years experience in commercial real estate market from Developer followed by 5 years of experience in advisory firm – CBRE representing Tenants and Landlords to coworking which started in managing NewWork Offices in Poland followed by Business Development for Business.Link.

NewWork Offices is Hungarian based coworking network, available in Central Eastern Europe. In 2017, I was responsible for opening Polish branch of the organization, and managing it first coworking site in Poland – NewWork Wilanów in Warsaw with area of 3200 sqm.

After that I’ve joined Business Link in the beginning of 2018 and was responsible for setting up new strategy for the brand and acquiring clients for newest developments of the brand. Business.Link is the largest polish coworking operator who grew up rapidly after joint venture with the real estate company Skanska.”

Natalia Kuliberda: “During over 7 years of experience in real estate industry, I went through the full spectrum of business functions, including but not limited to: strategic planning, sales & operations processes. Thanks to open-minded and agile approach, as well as strong analytical skills, I successfully managed the leasing and asset tasks in 110 000 sqm. Specialize in solving problems and creating new opportunities for business partners. Experienced in coworking & flexible office solutions.”

Poland was not the first country to climb into the coworking train. How do you explain it?

There are few reasons to explain this. Boom in coworking in the world was mainly caused by 2008 crisis – afterward companies were afraid of future and long lease obligations, typical for major markets (London, Paris, NY, LA…). In Poland as one of the few countries in EU, the crisis was barely slow down so we have missed that driver.

The coworking boom started in Poland ca. 3 years ago with introducing By Adgar Brain Embassy who was the first modern style coworking spaces directed to freelancers, small and medium companies as well as corporations. Together with two modern BusinessLink locations in Warsaw. This was an answer for two new needs which was born in our market: project working and competition for talent pool.

Now we see that these two reasons are the main drivers to rapid growth of coworking market in Poland.

Nowadays, Warsaw is the city in Europe with the highest level of investment in corporate real estate. Are property owner keener to embrace the coworking model? 

In our opinion (in high level) situation in the commercial real estate market and recent coworking boom is best to compare to entrance Uber in the passenger transport market. After few years, Uber didn’t displace taxi’s, car sharing nor buses (and please remember that Polish market is not regulating Uber). This is a response to people’s needs and how the commute.

Same with coworking – this is supplement / feeling a void in commercial real estate market.

The competition is becoming fiercer in Warsaw, with big international coworking names opening up big spaces. How do the existing players react? 

This is the question we will know the answer only at the end of this year and next year.

WeWork entered market and opened first premises in December 2018. Three months later Regus and Regus Spaces, Solutions.rent, NewWork and Wework itself opened 6 more locations in the city center of Warsaw itself! The paste of Market growth is unparalleled. WeWork as the one with the biggest appetite. It will for sure change the market. To what extend ? It is hard to tell.

Do you see something specific to the Warsaw coworking scene that you have not seen in other European major cities? 

We think that pipeline for new investment compared with the market itself in 2018-2020 shows biggest dynamic and fastest growth (relative to the market).

The biggest players are Regus (the oldest one), WeWork and NewWork who will cope with very strong local players like CitySpace, Business.Link and Brain Embassy. It’s worth to mention that the local players showing the appetite to become market leaders in Warsaw, Poland or even in the whole EU  are backed-up by major real estate developers (Echo, Skanska and Adgar respectively).

It is worth to mention that the local players showing the appetite to become market leaders  in Warsaw, Poland or even in the whole EU, are backed-up by major real estate developers (Echo, Skanska and Adgar respectively).

Are foreign companies located in Warsaw more open to join a coworking space than Polish organisations?

Yes and this is not only for foreign companies. Polish entities are also looking for new spaces.

For both, the main drivers (mentioned earlier) are project based work and the war for talents. The modern coworking spaces with very low entry threshold compared with high quality office spaces are gaining.

How difficult is it to build a community in a booming city such as Warsaw, with so much things moving around?

Community Management will be the name of the game in 2019/2020. Because of the young market and the shortage of experienced community managers, this is what we expect to see developing rapidly. With that fast pace of growth and huge competition, simple “event calendar overload” is not enough. Each provider has its own approach and we see that other players wants to distinguish itself, like i.e. Nest coworking who is inviting parents with kids. 

Community Management will be the name of the game in 2019/2020. With that fast pace of growth and huge competition, simple “event calendar overload” is not enough.

How important is the community, according to you? 

For every coworking who would like to anchor the clients and hold them there are three main unique selling points: location, price vs quality, community. You can discuss which one is the most important. However, at the end of the day, community is the only selling points which you can shape by yourself and distinguish from the competitors, and tie the client. So looking from this perspective this is about to live or to die for every coworking space.

At the end of the day, community is the only selling points which you can shape by yourself and distinguish from the competitors

How about coworking in the other Polish cities?

Poland it is not only Warsaw and we have few very strong and important local cities like Kraków, Wrocław Poznań, Tri-City, Silesia with fiercely competitive Lublin and Białystok in the east of the country and central located Łódź which was in the shadow of Warsaw for a long time and now getting bigger and bigger attention.

Local markets growth is slightly slower than in Warsaw but the rapid growth is ahead of us and they should boom in next 3 years.

Where do you see the coworking market in Warsaw in 2 years and 5 years time?

We do believe that the future of market is ca. 15-20% of modern office stock serving as coworking space. The question is how fast we will reach that goal. Is it 5 years from now? – we will see. For sure, in the next two years, we will see rapid growth and interesting fight between operators. Nevertheless, as the product is still barely known by the market, there should ultimately be plenty of room for everyone.

“Coworking is more and more about accommodating teams, not solely individual freelancers”

Eric van den Broek, Sophie Ozdzinski, Stefano Borghi and Augustin Riedinger are co-founders of Copass, a marketplace that offers a selection of workspaces around the globe: vibrant or calm, huge or small, classic or atypical, they got everyone covered.

We have interviewed Eric van den Broek to find out more about trends in nomad coworking as well as in new group working patterns.

Can you introduce Copass, the philosophy behind it and how do you compete in such a “coworking platforms” dense environment?

Of course! Copass is a global coworking membership enabling its users to access a network of more than 950 independent coworking spaces around the globe with one single subscription. Basically, it’s like being a member of a thousand spaces at once.

Copass was born 6 years ago, in early 2013 as the brainchild of former coworking space founders. I’ve been involved in the coworking movement since 2011. In 2014, coworking was growing rapidly and what started as a genuine bottom-up movement started to get structured as a market. Big players started to join the movement with big money and were able to open networks of locations. 

As I naturally became friends with many coworking space managers all over the world, we started discussing the possibility of offering a seamless experience for coworkers to work from any coworking space. The idea was the following: we could offer the value of a network to our members while staying independent at the same time. That’s basically how Copass started!

You were not alone on the market, were you?

In terms of competition, we’ve seen a lot of platforms come and go. Most listing platforms did fail as members would simply bypass the platform and deal directly with the space when they found it. Some competitors do work by focusing on meeting rooms and closed office spaces but that’s a very different audience. Copass stayed true to its roots by focusing on offering a seamless experience for coworkers and coworking space managers.

As we are self funded, we also could deal with a slower growth than what a VC funded company might expect. When we started, coworking was still pretty niche so the idea needed a little time to really make sense. Some say we’ve been patient but I would say we’ve been passionate.

You once said coworking leans towards “team consumption” instead of individual subscription. Can you elaborate? 

I often think back about the old times when we had to explain 10 times a day what coworking actually is back in 2011. Nobody had even heard of it! Now if you walk in a random café and ask the question, most of the people know exactly what it is and what is the benefit of using one. Coworking has become mainstream, and as it became mainstream, it went way passed it’s initial target audience that was mostly made of freelancers.

Teams and companies could now have instant access to cool facilities and ecosystems anywhere they want without the burden of a formal lease. This change also reflects on Copass. Companies can create groups, attribute individual memberships to their teammates or share a pool of daypasses, centralizing all their coworking expenses in one place. The value of a network for this new audience is even greater than for individuals so Copass is an excellent fit for them. I would say that today, around 30% of checkins are done by teams.

Shall coworking spaces focus more on “teams” rather than individual freelancers, then? 

It’s hard to answer this question as I think both approaches can be valid. Coworking Spaces focusing on freelancers can understand and answer their needs better. Community for freelancers is way more important than the actual facility as you’re talking to people who suffer from isolation when working from home. This isn’t so much the case for teams and companies. For them, the services and the facilities play a much bigger role. In a way, working with teams and companies is way more “transactional”.

In terms of community, teams usually don’t blend in as much as individuals as the team is “socially self sufficient”. In the early days of coworking, that was super community focused, this was actually a problem as too many teams in a space could affect the overall vibe of spaces and I remember having discussions with other operators on this very topic.

So I think freelancers and teams are actually two very different things. What happens is that, as coworking grew as a market and as the real estate pressure became stronger on space operators, coworking spaces needed to grow in size and to do so, they had to address different needs. Teams offer a more predictable income and working with teams is more “scalable” than working with freelancers as refining a service and a space design is easier done at scale than maintaining a unique community vibe.

I think freelancers and teams are actually two very different things.

The final answer would be: if you’re going into coworking for business and money, you should go big and find a way to accommodate teams within your space. If you’re going for the love of community, you might be able to go smaller and work only with freelancers. But there is no definite answer here.

From your data, it seems coworking users keep being more urban. Does it mean rural coworking remain an exception?

As much as I’d love to say no, I would have to agree on that. Coworking is still an urban phenomenon and there are many reasons for that:

  1. People feel the need for coworking spaces when they lack space at home. When you’ve got a 150sqm house in the countryside with your own office in it,  you don’t feel the urge to get out as much as when you live in a 30swm flat in Paris
  2. To make sense from a financial point of view for a coworking space, you need a certain density of potential members around.
  3. As you’re going away from big cities, the economy is a lot less about services and a lot more about the industry or agriculture. 99% of coworkers are actually service providers.

That being said, in the long run, I could see a future where people move away from the cities and work remotely. I would actually love that as I think centralization causes many problems, but that’s a topic for another day 🙂 

In the beginning, you were more focused on coworking travelers. Now, it seems Copass users tend more to cast their coworking need locally…

I think the so-called digital nomad lifestyle is for people a bit like sex for teenagers: many talk about it but few actually do it. Don’t get me wrong: I’ve been considered a Digital Nomad myself and I loved it. It’s just that looking at the media, it appears bigger than it actually is because it’s sexy and tickles people’s curiosity, especially when you’re stuck in a crappy office doing a job you don’t like and daydream everyday about quitting your job to go around the world 🙂 

It’s true that Copass has been perceived a lot like a tool for nomads and I think we suffered from it as many people would think “this product is so cool but it’s not for me as as I don’t travel that much”. At the end, most of our users actually roam within the same city and sometime travel with Copass! For urbans, coworking is the new normal and as they have many options around, it makes a lot of sense for them to not commit to one but to use different spaces based on their needs. If you’ve got a meeting with a client at the other end of the city, it doesn’t make sense to go all the way back to your homespace.

The office, which was a constraint before, has become a tool and you can now use the best tool based on your needs and constraints.

Do you see big differences between countries in the way people interact with coworking? 

I think in the end, what is the most striking are the similarities between spaces rather than the differences. From a sociological perspective, it’s very interesting to see that there is way more in common between a freelancer in a coworking space in New York City and in Indonesia than between this same freelancer and a farmer in minnesota. There is a global culture that emerged beyond countries which is a pretty unique phenomenon. You’ll still see some differences though but not that much.

How do you see the main coworking usage patterns and profiles evolve in the coming 2-5 years?

I see coworking as becoming a feature of almost anything. A lot of big real estate players already include coworking in their projects alongside restaurants and accommodation. Coworking has found a place in the real estate industry.

I’ve got mixed feelings about it and I know a lot of coworking pioneers also do. We came in this space and shaped the movement for the community and the values and not for selling square meters. The real estate part of it was only something we had to deal with. Let’s not fool ourselves: the intentions behind a WeWork or Spaces and an indy space are not the same…

That being said, there is no need to get too mad about it. That is the way things go and in a way, we all knew that was going to happen. Also, keep in mind that those big players address a different market I believe. For them, business comes down to flexibilizing the workspace, which is something companies need and have needed for a long time. When you’re creating a business, it all comes down to the problem you are solving. While pioneers in coworking solved the problem of isolation by creating communities, real estate players solve the problem of flexibility by offering office as a service.

Those two things are going to grow together, the latter being mechanically much bigger in size than the former.

Primalbase pioneers the blockchain technology based coworking business model

Ralph Manheim is the CEO of Primalbase, a company whose mission is “to provide physical environments for the tech community to realize their ideas and projects“. Primalbase works on creating a network where developers researchers and entrepreneurs can come to work, explore and collaborate with others in tech. With that purpose in mind, Primalbase started to open up coworking spaces, offering usual perks such as fast internet, free drinks and snacks, kitchen, meeting rooms, lounge areas and so forth. Primalbase is operational in Berlin, London and Amsterdam with locations set to open in New York and Singapore by the end of 2018.

What makes Primalbase specific? The company is one of the first coworking space to opt for a blockchain based technology to offer access to its members. A the center the model: the sale of blockchain based tokens, identified as PBT Token in the case of Primalbase. The PBT token was valued 4.700 US$ at the end of October 2018. The sale of  blockchain tokens helps to fund the initial investments in the space.

We interviewed Ralph Manheim on the the reasons why he pioneered this new coworking blockchain based model.

Hi Ralph. What is the interest of a blockchain technology based model to operate a network of coworking spaces?

This has a range of advantages for users and it is central to the creation of the community based coworking model that we believe the tech industry has been yearning for. Our tokens are also innovative in that they can be or will be the technology (nearly there) allowing to lease out the coworking access to another person temporarily. That way, token holders are enabled to get a financial benefit when they don’t use the token for themselves.

Ralph Manheim

Can you explain us what lies behind the so called blockchain tokenization of office real estate?

We issue tokens which are stored on a blockchain in order to ensure that they are completely secure. They are practically impossible to steal and cannot be altered. In the case of our PBT token, we are based on Waves and Ethereum blockchains.

Let’s say you buy our PBT tokens via an exchange (many exists). By owning one token, you are granted the access to a desk in any of our offices around the world.  A few months later, let say you no longer longer need a desk seat. You can then sell the token to someone else, who will then get access to the coworking space. Same thing would you be planning not to use your token for a while, you can lease it out instead of selling it out.

What are the advantages of your PBT Token as opposed to rely on a more traditional Real Estate transaction model?

Source : BlockchainHub

Our members benefit from the great flexibility that our token offers. Not only can you use it on an international basis, as you can access all our operational offices in Europe and in the world. You also can sell your token straight away would your office needs to cease. This means less administrative and costly steps. Basically, you are less bound and keep a higher level of control on your exact needs and spendings.

Who, typically, buys one of your tokens ?

Everyone can buy one of our token. At Primalbase, though, we are focused on the tech community.  It’s an open market. Our environment is geared towards the tech community. So, are you active in tech field, the benefit is most straightforward for you as you get an immediate access to a community of peers. That said, our community is diverse and shares the same appetite for innovation and collaboration.

Why does community building still make sense in this model?

As I mentioned, community building is at the heart of this†model. One part of our product is certainly the workplaces. They are  spacious, beautiful and cool places to work from. However, that is not the only component. The most important aspect of our product is the community that works within them, what they can offer each other, the energy they create, the shared sense of mission to co-create exciting new technologies together. This significantly increases the ability for individuals and companies to accelerate. 

Do you think that blockchain technologies are going to disrupt the commercial real estate market in the coming years? What could stop it?

We are still in the very early stages. Nonetheless, we feel that tokenization based on blockchain will certainly be transformative in real estate business. We feel that we participate in proving that we can revolutionize the way workspace lots can be allocated. We can change the way we see the interaction between supply and demand in the real estate sphere.

Should all coworking space operators switch their model to tokenization?

We are currently focused on ourselves and delivering on our promises. We are not here to judge other coworking operations on which model they should build up their developments. However, tokenization is well an integral part in our model. We feel it’s the right way to go and have faith in the flexibility and freedom that tokenization offers its users.

Ralph Manheim is a speaker at our Coworking Europe 2018 conference.

“You don’t take a cut on all positive externalities you made possible” – Mutinerie (Paris)

Mutinerie in Paris used to be the poster child of coworking entrepreneurs in the early 2010’s. Launched in the north of the French capital, the ecosystem always sounded genuine and unique, with, back then, one of the most beautiful space design one could experience. Seven years later, the van den Broek brothers and their fellow co-founders have decided to put an end to the story. Coworking is now huge in Paris, as it is now elsewhere. We asked Antoine van den Broek whether there is still room for independent coworking operators nowadays.

Hi Antoine. For those who have been involved in coworking for more than 5 years, Mutinerie is a name that inspired a lot of players within the coworking world. Why are you shutting down ?

Antoine van den Broek

We are shutting down our Parisian coworking space for three main reasons. First, running a small independent coworking space nowadays in an expensive city like Paris is a real financial challenge.

Second, more than six years had past since we opened our Parisian coworking space, in this period of time life has changed for us, we all have children now, with all that comes with it. We used to be in Mutinerie from early in the morning to late in the day when not at night, we would hold events two or three times a week, often on the weekend, we would have drinks with coworkers at the end of the long day, sometimes even sleep in Mutinerie… This life we enjoyed is no longer possible. Another life we don’t love less has replaced it. A very common explanation of why things change…

Third, the coworking scene has changed too. What use to be a movement has became a market. The energy of the beginning, the sharing spirit has faded away, and big business is following his own logic. This is not a moral judgment; this is the way innovation works. One mission we had as coworking early players was to raise awareness on the way work is changing, we can say we have succeeded in that. Coworking is somehow becoming a commodity; innovation is moving elsewhere. This is not a surprise. We knew it from the beginning, as I said in an ITW back in the days, pioneers will need to move to a new frontier.

The coworking scene has changed. What use to be a movement has became a market.

In 2018, can independent coworking spaces still thrive in metropoles such as Paris ? Or can only big brands stand and develop within the market, nowadays?

 I think independent coworking spaces can still work in metropoles such as Paris. Adding services around your core business, organizing significant events, and bringing business to your community acting as an “agency”, are solutions. The strength of theses old school coworking spaces is the community they gather and you have various ways to monetize this community. Some solutions like Copass can also bring the network effect to these independent coworking spaces so they can defend their position and philosophy against big players.

Bringing business to your community acting as an “agency” is a solution.

Have the users’ profiles changed during all those years ? If yes, in which way?

Yes, it has changed. At the beginning, 50 percent of our members where foreigners, now that coworking has spread in France, it is more around 20 percent. We can also say that users of the beginning tended to be a little bit more “strange” than the one of today. They were early adopters seeking new experiences; they made this weird choice when few people did. With time, the public had “normalized”.

At the beginning, 50 percent of our members where foreigners, now that coworking has spread in France, it is more around 20 percent.

Would Mutinerie (Paris)’s business model and size do ok in a smaller city or town, would you say? 

I would answer yes. The rent being the main cost (with HR), having access to much lower rental makes it easier. In smaller town, the competition is also less important. But you need to be sure to have the critical mass. It’s hard to answer generally as each city has a specific context and population. Some medium cities that offers good quality of life that fits freelancers’ needs and expectation can be good places to open a coworking space.

Is 400m2 a viable surface for coworking in today’s world?

It depends of your model and ambition. Would you want your place to be more than a shared office, you have to invest a lot in animation and community support. This fixed cost will be easier to carry if it is spread among 300 coworkers than 30. But you can also say that in a smaller space, people will meet each others easily so you don’t need to invest that much in animation… 

At the end of the day, it really depends of your goal : you can be an association with members actively engaged in the space management, you can be a collective of professionals sharing the revenues you get from your clients and the costs related to the space you share, you can also have a more real-estate approach automatizing all the space management to offer an accessible workspace and nothing more. It also depends whether this space is your only one or if it is part of a network. In that case you can mutualise marketing, communication, financial and administrative at the company level allowing economies of scale to be realised and liberating your spaces from those costs. In France, La Cordée is successfully managing a network of medium size spaces, mostly in regional cities (only one in Paris area), that would be interesting to have their view on this.

Mutinerie is known for its wonderful community and vibe. Why isn’t it enough, today? Had you considered to partner up with other player to bring the community into a new environment? 

The Mutinerie community is special, it has always been the center and the goal of our project and we are glad to see how it flourished. Mutinerie has been the starting point of so many successful projects and beautiful friendships. A generation of disrupters started here. But what makes it so human is also what makes it difficult to scale. Relationships are personal, not exponential, and you don’t take a cut on all positive externalities that you made possible. There is no clear correlation between serendipity and cash flows. Partnering up with other players ? Why not. You can build or join a network of other existing spaces, you can also partner up with some big real estate players to scale quickly. We had considered these options but did not go further in that direction.

Relationships are personal, not exponential, and you don’t take a cut on all positive externalities that you made possible.

What should/could, according to you, have been done for/by Mutinerie to be able to go further with its coworking offering?

I don’t know how to answer. At the end, an independent coworking space, like us, relies on the shoulders of a few people. As long as you are happy doing it, it’s fine, you find the energy but comes a time when you want to move to something new or somewhere else. Most of us are leaving Paris. Our lives have changed, we want and need new challenges.

At the end, an independent coworking space, like us, relies on the shoulders of a few people. As long as you are happy doing it, it’s fine.

What would you recommend to independent coworking space operators, based on your experience?

For general advices, I’d recommend you check Ramon Suarez’s Coworking Handbook. But all spaces have specific issues, are in different stages, this environment is so diverse that it is hard to give a general answer. If I had to, such as now, I would say: think of yourself as the head of a collective of professional and find a way to bring more business to it. Being the source of new incomes puts you in position quite different from being the guy who sends invoices. Many enterprises are trying to give freedom to their employees, you can be the one who gives structure to free workers.


What’s next for Mutinerie, now ?

We are putting our attention on Mutinerie Village, the rural coworking space we launched four years ago. Some of us have already left Paris to settle in the Perche (the name of this beautiful countryside, located less than two hours away from Paris) and there is now a real Mutinerie community there. In fact the social life around Mutinerie Village is incredibly rich. Nowdays, as a freelancer, you can be living in a lovely natural parc and have a fulfilling professional life. To give a bigger echo to this lifestyle, we recently launched l’Ambassade du Perche (the Perche Embassy). The goal of this program is to help freelancers who wants to leave the city, move here in the region. Mutinerie’s center of gravity has changed but the community remains. We all met in an important time of our lives, we grew together and nothing can erase these precious relationships and this collective identity. Our Parisian coworking space is closed but we still see each-others and work together… What is dead may never die.

“Events have been the main communication tool to increase coworking awareness in Istanbul”

Kolektif House is born in 2015. The Turkey based operator depicts itself as “More than a co-working space : a platform for creators who love what they do and believe in the power of sharing“. Today, Kolektif House claims it connects  1300 freelancers, startups, investors, corporates and mid-size companies, in Istanbul. Ahmet is the co-founder of Kolektif House. The company operates two locations in Istanbul and will soon open a third one.

Hi Ahmet, can you tell us more about the story behind Kolektif House?

We started Kolektif House when my close friend Civan, one of our partners and current CDO, returned back to Turkey after graduation in the US. He was then searching for his dream office. He asked me for help to find an inspiring and affordable workspace; soon enough we realized that there was a big gap in the market for such a product. This led us to start our own project, Kolektif House, to not only create an office space but actually transform the concept of ‘working’ to a feeling of ‘creating value and belonging’. 

You said there was no market for coworking, in Istanbul, back then. How about that?

There was a market potential, but, frankly, not a significant enough supply or adequate products to support that potential. What was established in Istanbul, back then, were standard office spaces whereas our aim was to challenged the status quo by focusing on the community aspect. We strived to create such a community that not only worked under the same roof but also interacted with one another at a social and professional level, where people shared their opinions and did business together to create something inspiring every day.

How did you raise the awareness about coworking? 

We had almost no budget for marketing and only a few people in our team. Our main awareness builder has been our events policy. We held events with local artists and offered them our walls so that they could display their expressions, ideas and artworks in our space. We invited an ice sculptor from the other side of the world to one of our Sunday breakfasts for a live performance. We hosted Turkey’s greatest comedian, musicians and actors in our talk show series. Besides, we attended One Love, one of the biggest festivals in Turkey, by convincing organizers to provide us with free space in exchange for a creative idea to showcase at the venue. So, we printed 1,000 photos of attendants and lighted up the festival area with a heart shaped artwork made of printed photos under the “Thousand Faces of One Love” motto. As far as the corporate brands in Istanbul are concerned, we invited executives to hold their events in our place with no charge and promised to serve them the best service they could find elsewhere. I would literally clean up the place every morning and Civan would serve tea just before we change to our suits and greet guests at the reception area. We would do everything we could to compensate for our deficiencies which went as far as lighting up the room with candles in our hands when we lost electricity during a very important conference that was held in our space. And today we evolved to a stage where we host events for leading brands such as Nike, Vodafone, Accenture, Is Bank, Yandex and many more.

We printed 1,000 photos of attendants and lighted up the festival area with a heart shaped artwork made of printed photos under the “Thousand Faces of One Love” motto

Who were the people/profiles you had first to convince?

Regardless of their business, our aim, since day one, was to lure people who are passionate about what they create. Due to the nature of the coworking space, our first members were mostly freelancers and startups. As we grew, we saw greater opportunity in diversity and in having different types of companies from various sectors. Today we have a member portfolio consisting of 10% corporates, %30 startups, 30% SME’s, 20% freelancers and 10% VC’s. Among our 1300 members, we have Turkey’s leading bank Is Bankasi, Turkey HQ of Yandex, successful startups that have expanded internationally and global VC’s such as 500 Startups.  

What are the communication channels you mainly used to get out of anonymity?

As said, events have been the major driver for us. Once we put a great show, influencers posted it online, press wrote about it, participants shared on their social accounts and most importantly, it leads to a strong word of mouth. Today we have a 360 degrees approach in marketing; we have a platform called KoMag to publish inspirational contents, we have added paid promotion on top of our organic Social Media strategy, we remain close relationship with influencers and press and keep collaborating with artists which drives brand recognition and loyalty.

Today we have a 360 degrees approach in marketing; we have a platform called KoMag to publish inspirational contents, we have added paid promotion on top of our organic Social Media strategy

Is Turkey a coworking friendly the same way you see it in other European countries?

Culturally, Turkey has a great community history, which is the coworking’s pillar. However looking at the recent past, we have not been great at picking up and scaling the global trends. Shared economy and coworking is one of these lately picked habits. I believe it will just take a little longer for Turkey to penetrate, but the potential and the energy is out there so I believe Turkey is a good fit for building a coworking ecosystem. 

Has it to do with a scarcity of financial resources? Or a lack of meaningful allies?

I believe financial resources can always be pointed as a limiting factor in any kind of business. However when you look at the bigger picture, having people understand what we really do here and the value we add to their business was the biggest barrier for us. Initially people only thought of the economic advantages of moving to a coworking space, but today even the most traditional corporates see the benefit of offering flexible working hours, interaction with a community and an inspirational work environment in their employees’ happiness. 

Initially people only thought of the economic advantages of moving to a coworking space, but today even the most traditional corporates see the benefit of offering flexible working hours, interaction with a community and an inspirational work environment

Based on your experience, what would you recommend new operators in low “coworking-awareness” areas to do first?

People have always been eager to be a part of a community, regardless of their era, nationality, geographic location, or demographics. The coworking trend is just a reflection of that same sense of belonging. So it is not about the destination, it is about the process of how you bring those minds together under the same roof. And the starting point of that process should definitely be paying genuine attention to what those minds say. This will help them to build more appropriate and target-fit services, and product features. 

What are the main challenges you have coped with since then?

We increased tenfold our size within the last 3 years in terms of surface, number of members and diversity of our community. While doing so, our biggest challenge was to keep improving our service at the same pace which required setting a strong technology backbone and acquiring the right talent. To be honest, I feel like we could have managed these two issues better. Once we realized that we came to a point where we couldn’t organize the events we wanted due to lack of team members or correctly analyze our membership data to make strategic decisions, we started to really move our investments to these two areas that I have mentioned above. Our team today grew to 43 people and we keep hiring great talent from a variety of industries which empowers us to create new departments such as technology so that we can continuously improve our overall service. 

What are Kolektif’s plans for the future?

We help people grow their hearts and their businesses. All of our team is working on many exciting projects to achieve excellence on this mission. In doing so, we will expand both locally and internationally to over 30 locations to serve nearly 34,000 members by 2022.

Ahmet will speak at the Coworking Europe 2018 conference in Amsterdam.

“In Spain, small coworking spaces have less to lose from the rise of big brands than medium size ones”

Manuel Zea is the founder of CoworkingSpain.es and the organizer of the Coworking Spain Conference, one of the first national conference ever organized on coworking. Manuel saw coworking moving from a fragile new born to an industry on it’s way to disrupt the traditional office market. As of today, Spain is still the country with the highest number of individual coworking space per capita. A few days after the Coworking Spain 2018 conference, which took place in Madrid, it was a good time to ask him about the situation of coworking in the country.

Hi Manuel. Can you tell us about the story behind CoworkingSpain?

Manuel Zea

“CoworkingSpain.es” is born in 2010. That year, I was invited to speak at the first European conference on coworking. I had entitled my presentation: “An overview of the coworking in Spain”. Prior to the date,  I reached out to all the existing coworking spaces at that time, in the country. I had collected so much information that I decided to start a blog called CoworkingSpain.es, which listed coworking space operating in Spain. The year after, I took part to the second Coworking Europe conference in Berlin. I said to myself: it’s time to organize a similar conference in Spain. This was 7 years ago.

What is the main learning you get out of such a longevity? 

I think working with passion and love is what makes me work every year at the conference. Its a hard job with a really small team, so doing things with passion and love is key for us. As you mention, the competition is now rising between the 3 biggest international operators, now active in Spain. You can feel how they want to get market share and they are using marketing strategics to get more penetration into the market. Collaboration between spaces is possible but to a certain limit and easier between smaller spaces. Collaboration between big coworking brands is more difficult. Be will work on that, though.

Why, would you say, coworking spaces have an interest to collaborate with one another?

My opinion is that collaboration is a way to grow faster and organized and a way to learn faster. There is a lot of experience in every single person that can solve in a simple way a problem that seems big to you. Collaborartion is the perfect way to accelerate your serendipity.

According to your Spanish coworking survey, Spain counts about 800 coworking spaces, still one of the highest number in Europe…

Utopicus

This is a legacy from the economical crisis. Eight years ago, there was just a bunch of coworking spaces. Their mission was to spread the word about the coworking word and educate the world about what coworking was.  This was a really tough job. We can’t figure out something more complicated than to teach a market about a service one isn’t even aware there might be a demand for. That was our job from the beginning and it has been the mission of the Coworking Spain Conference all those years: Connect all the coworking space managers, support each other in resolving common problems, make noise around  the ‘coworking’ word in Spain.

Can you give us an overview of the growth of the coworking Spanish market, today?

The coworking industry in Spain is now growing by 20% annually. We experience a professionalisation of the sector. The industry is maturing.  Big brands are in Spain. They take a lot of sqm up. The coworking brands are now representing 3% of the total number of coworking operators in Spain. Though, they cover the 30% of the market. They are being very agresive and the penetration into the markets is being big.

The big brands are already in Spain getting a lot of sqm and growing already the 3% of the coworking brands own the 30% of the market.

The average size of coworking spaces in Spain is 200-300m2, which might sound pretty small according to the standards seen in other countries. What should be the strategy for small spaces to survive?

Since the begining of the “coworking era”, a great deal of the spaces in operation in Spain are proportionally small. This explains why Spain had such a high number of individual spaces when compared with other countries. Nowadays, the big names are changing the industry. As far as I see it, the small spaces shouldn’t be too much impacted. The can  focus ont their small communities or transform their spaces into another business. The managers of these small coworking spaces can easily change the model and turn their shared office place, for instance, into a design agency. They have a lot of flexibility, and didn’t invest too much money in their space. It’s another story for medium size spaces. Those will have to transform themselves. Coworking is their main activité. They invested a lot of money. The big international brands are more likely to hurt  them. They need to be ready for change and increase the value proposition to their communities.

The medium size spaces are the one who need to transform or change the most.

Are there still doubts about the rising importance of coworking in Spain?

Not anymore. Last year, coworking was everywhere. Credit to the big players. WeWork opened. Spaces, by Regus, continued its expansion. And the most commented transaction of the year was the acquisition of Utopicus by the Real State company Colonial. So the word coworking had been spreading a lot last year. We made it!!!!