Why Coworking Now Needs To Be Local And Not Privileged

Last week was HUGE!

We had the Coworking Symposium to which hundreds of you showed up, my eyes and ears were bleeding with hope and excitement for the future of coworking in Europe.
After that, there was the Coworkies Hack Coworking event and while all of this was going on hundreds of more people in the UK signed #Saveourlocalcoworking.

We also launched our Q&A sessions for European coworking businesses with Every week we’ll record a Group video chat with our friend’s CobotOfficeRnD and Nexudus and Marc Navarro to get you an answer – more on that here.

And I realise that you may not even know what coworking is, but after the COVID epidemic, you will.

Find out why coworking is so essential to you, me and the local economy in this 2 minute Linkedin Video here – please like, comment and share.

Future of work

My friend Albert said that the COVOD epidemic accelerated the future of work ‘reality’ by a decade, and I agree.

Zeljko and I dive into this more with ‘future of work and bullshit jobs’ thinker Laëtitia Vitaud on our Coworking Values podcast.
Click here to listen.

What has coworking got to do with me?

We’ve recognised a big move in the number of people not going into cities anymore.
Not even I want to go to London anymore, and I only have to get from Zone 4 to Zone 2.

Instead, we’re staying home, and that means working from home too.
Soon we’ll want somewhere near our house to work before we get cabin fever.

Until now, people had been ‘given permission’ to work from home.
When they did not ‘have permission’ they’d get on a shit train every day because their employer knew no other way.

What happens next?

This article here from March 2020 got my attention, ‘What Will Happen When Remote Work Is Over?

Dave writes – “Managers (especially those previously sceptical of remote working) need to be preparing for a new workforce coming back to the office; one that has tasted the fruits of remote working and won’t easily let it go.”

Because of this, cities will become less populated as Nas Daily discussed in this video here.

I LOVE Nas and the point he makes, but he could have positioned this video better.

The privilege of remote work

In the first few weeks of COVID, I got more than a little sick of the ‘remote work’ conversation.
I was an ‘expert guest’ on a bunch of ‘going remote’ webinars.

Of course, this was great for my ego.
I became one of many privileged (mainly white) people either whining or boasting about remote work.

One of my co-panellists was from a well-known taxi company whose name rhymes with scuba.
He was waxing lyrical about ‘the whole company going remote!’ – While talking from his cabin by fucking Lake Tahoe.

His company has over five million drivers who get paid for every journey.
I can’t see ‘going remote’ let alone COVID-19 being an epic moment int he ‘future of work’ for many of those drivers.

We all hang out online these days, but we have the privilege of a job, a computer or device and an internet connection.
We also talk with Laëtitia about this on the Coworking Values podcast – Click here to listen.

The privilege of healthcare

Most of us live in a first world country with a robust healthcare system.

In Argentina, where the other half of my family is from there is a severe lockdown because there is no NHS.

If the virus spread there, the health system would not be able to cope, so everyone will be in lockdown even longer.

Coworking and privilege

I’ve been in and around coworking for a solid decade now, and the image of ‘coworking for cool start up’s’ is still an issue.

Independent research conducted in the London borough of Hackney in 2018/19 showed that the demographic of members in coworking spaces were significantly ‘whiter’ and ‘gentrified’ than the demographic of the area.

One of the most precise explanations about ‘privilege’ I’ve ever come to across ever is by Brené Brown.

In 2017 Brené Brown recorded a Facebook live after the tragic Charlottesville incident.

Brené gives examples of privilege and explains how we have to own our story as a human race – listen here.

The elite image of coworking

Unfortunately, some coworking businesses built a wanky, pretentious and toxic image of coworking.
They encouraged a “10x your entrepreneur-hustle” bullshit image of our industry.

I’m all up for building a business and making a profit, but not at the exclusion of others or elitism.

The truth is that there are way more independently owned and run coworking spaces than ‘corporate’ ones.
And the independent ones are home to all the freelancers, micro, small businesses.

How coworking excludes people

The imagery around coworking space websites, events and industy conferences suck.
it defaults to men and ‘alpha’ females drinking flat white coffee, reading copies of Fast Company or Forbes to 10X their lives.

My best example of ill-thought-out messaging is from this workspace company.

We need to pay close attention to these words, images and messages.
I doubt that people are being excluded on purpose but people from all areas of society to feel welcome to play.

Why you’ll hear even more about coworking

So we won’t be going into cities for work so much, and our way of life has changed.
What this means is coworking spaces outside of major cities will boom.

They will become a prominent connection and regeneration point for the micro and small business economies.
A local coworking space gives people somewhere to connect, collaborate and build their community and their business.

The way we communicate the coworking industy has never been more critical.
In a downturn, people spend less money and look even more closely at the values and work practice of where they spend their money.

Going forward

Right now, coworking comes with a lot of safeguards and restrictions.

But going forward, we will see coworking ‘type spaces’ becoming local community hubs.
I live in Zone 4 of London, and I had to go into Zone 2 to find a coworking space that had a sense of community and work ethic like mine.

Now more than ever, I’d rather walk my child to school and stay in Zone 4 to work, but not at home.
COVID made me change my daily routine and priorities, and I’m lucky to end up in a better place.

All this has been happening years.

A few years ago, my mate Gareth co-founded Town Square to take a local type coworking to market towns in the UK.

Before Town Square, Gareth ran the mighty Welsh ICE workspace near Cardiff.
Which five years later still has THE best coworking space intro video EVER click here to watch.

The phone at Town Square rings red hot with people wanting to know how to make a workspace in their ‘little old town’.

The Best Coworking Space Promo Ever?

It is a UK-wide feeling #Saveourlocalcoworking.

Hundreds of coworking friends in the UK have connected to launch the ‘UK Coworking Assembly’.

Our first big project is #Saveourlocalcoworking.

It’s about real people in local areas building their projects, business and community.

Can you help?

Do you use a coworking space?
Do you know someone who owns a coworking space?

Please encourage them to sign #Saveourlocalcoworking.

p.s. The Linkedin Video is here – please leave a comment on the situation and share.

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