In a perfect demonstration of the collaboration that takes place in the coworking industry, spaces from all around Australia and beyond got together to share thoughts and ideas on everything about their communities.
Running over two days, the Global Coworking Unconference Conference Australia (affectionately referred to as “Juicy”) was a meeting of minds. Coworking has many moving parts and as such, the many facets of the industry need to be discussed in-depth. But more importantly it needs to have all the interested parties involved and that is where GCUCAU really outdid itself;
‘The sold-out GCUC Australia conference amazed me most with its energy and representation from across small business, corporates, government, university and coworking operators’ –Bradley Krauskopf (CEO and Founder of Hub Australia)
On Thursday at Customs House, Sydney, Deputy Lord Mayor Robyn Kemmis, opened the conference on behalf of the City of Sydney. Following that, Liz Elam and Brad Krauskopf gave the Keynote Address, before the day descended into a series of panel discussions that introduced us to the terms ‘accelerated serendipity’, ‘space activation’ and ‘bubblegum and cable solutions’.
“The most important thing I noticed was how universal a lot of the challenges were, and the obvious potential for small solutions to make life easier for a large number of spaces.” – Murray Hurps (GM of Fishburners).
During morning tea and lunch breaks, attendees could browse furniture designed for coworking from Cubakai, discuss solutions with BrainTree and LiquidSpace, admire the lovely self-watering plants of Grow Space or visit the angels at Seated Massages. It is clear that even conferences in coworking are focused on a better way of doing things, which was the main focus.
With the many benefits of coworking now known to extend into business growth, employee happiness and increased productivity, it’s no longer exclusive to startups and freelancers, with many companies interested in the industry.
This trend isn’t reserved to Australia, with one panel focussing their discussion on the similar boom occurring in America, New Zealand, the UK and Asia. It’s clear that coworking as an industry will only continue to grow.
“It was great to see such a diversity in the attendees – from kiwi property developers to Chinese coworking operators to the local coworking hosts.” Caroline McLaren (Principle of Coactiv8)
It’s both inspiring and delightful to see so many people committed to providing this service that they are willing to share their knowledge for the benefit of the larger whole. As Liz Elam put it “There are no sharks in this industry, only guppies, and they’re all working together, so be a guppy.” This is what the industry teaches it’s members, and was stated time again by many of the facilitators.
The day took shape as those that create, use or invest in coworking planned what sessions they would like to run, focussing on hot button issues brought up by the people dealing with them. Sessions were run on everything from meditation to the legal implications of running a space.
Next it was on to the double decker London bus for a tour of the coworking spaces most involved in the conference.
“Every space operator loves seeing other spaces, and seeing a room full of interested tour participants was wonderful.” –Murray Hurps.
The conference was an amazing mixture of high-quality content and also community building for the community of community builders. With the coworking industry emerging initially as a fad that was dismissed, it is clear that it is here to stay, and with 140 coworking spaces in Australia it’s clear the industry is only going to grow.
“ We were able to bring together Coworking leaders, commercial real estate, designers, architects and corporations to discuss this growing industry and examine the drivers and future of this global trend. GCUC worked as the connecting fiber for an industry that is uniquely poised to change the future of work.” –Liz Elam
In the Deskmag’s annual survey for the Coworking Forecast in 2013, people were already reporting that coworking was a positive influence in their lives, with 62% reporting significant improvement in their work, 71% said they were more creative, 90% said they felt more confident and 70% said they felt healthier then they had in a traditional office setting. It’s no wonder that coworking isn’t going anywhere, but why is it so great?
Coworking is in the wonderful place of combining many positive lifestyle factors into one while removing the negative effects of others. A lesser commute, a friendlier environment, alternate styles of working, community activity and increased business connections all factor into this new way of working. And when you think about it historically, humans were not designed to be segregated and judged on how much time they spent somewhere. By returning to the flexibility of having your content matter, rather than how long you spend in your cubicle – it’s no wonder coworking is succeeding.
But when you think about the activities provided; the wonderful distractions ping-pong, weekly drinks and lunches, plus a stimulating environment full of fascinating people all around, it is somewhat surprising that productivity increases. Attributed to increased ownership of outcomes as well as a more conducive work environment, those running spaces understand it well.
The conversations that were had and the friendships made are going to be the basis of the future of work.