Coworking – Hell of a Lot of Wisdom to Share


In the past few years, Coworking Conferences have been popping up across the globe everywhere from Paris to Tokyo. The concept for these conferences was conceived in 2008 in Austin, where the biggest Global Coworking Unconference Conference (GCUC or “Juicy”) still takes place. (Read more about the background on this Deskmag article.)

The purpose of these conferences is to share learnings and discuss the future of the coworking movement regionally and globally. Last weekend’s Coworking Conference Australia, held in Melbourne, was the first one of its kind held in Australiasia.

BizDojo’s Nick Shewring was invited to represent New Zealand’s coworking ecosystem and share his insights from successfully running a coworking network for almost four years.

We sat down with Nick for a little round-up of the conference:

“Many of the Australian coworking operators are still in that American kind of model, which is around monetising each interaction. This means that you’re charging residents for things like printing and booking meeting rooms.

For us, the last thing we want is the resident to be focusing on whether their meeting is going to be worth a $30 meeting room booking or a $60 one. We want that resident to be thinking about how they can win the deal and grow their business.

Something that also wasn’t really prevalent in Australia was our Co.Space model of providing working space for physical creatives. There’s a lot of interest around helping provide resources to creative entrepreneurs who are focused on physical products, and bridging that gap between the digital and physical.”

imageNick’s insights were recognized with an excited response on Twitter during the panel.

As well as sharing his findings, Nick also got a peek into the Australian coworking ecosystem.

“Probably the most poignant difference was the buy-in to the coworking movement at a federal and state level in Australia. Even though local governments support coworking businesses here too, the funding support and interest coming in from those organisations in Australia was quite unreal. They had really picked up on the value proposition that coworking can provide to the whole economy.

Alex Hillman [founder of Indyhall in Philadelphia ], was one of the keynote speakers at the conference. He is currently educating a lot of large corporations, organizations and government agencies around the value of developing communities. That’s something I think will become far more relevant in how we operate now in New Zealand.”

So where to from here?

“There was a common interest, yet struggle, to build strong relationships between coworking operators locally and globally. We’re really chuffed to have created some new partnerships and are already starting to see benefits from the conference by being able to connect some of our residents into those spaces.

We’re also looking at bringing Indyhall’s Hillman to New Zealand in the next few months and do a similar event. It will be fantastic for some of the councils and larger corporations here to be able to get a part of this learning. Keep tuned for those dates and how to get involved!”