Insights from GCUCAU : Australian coworking  (un) conference


When I told people that I was away last week because I was attending the Global Coworking Unconference Conference  almost every person’s response was ‘Really? That’s a real thing?’ Yes, friends. It is a real thing. A huge thing in fact.

Coworking space owners and operators from all over the world came together in Sydney to discuss the state of the industry, current global trends, common pain-points and future opportunities. After hearing all the tales about rapid market growth and plans of national and international expansions, it became quickly obvious that coworking is beginning to change the way that people work all over the world.

For good reason too - if done well, activated coworking environments enable innovation, collaboration and often provide faster routes to investment. Accelerated introductions and learnings (and failings…or ‘flearnings’ if you will) make for an exciting and valuable place to be based as a startup or growing business. When you add in to the equation pressures of securing leases and dealing with inflexible rental terms, it’s no wonder shared work environments are increasingly in demand globally. 

The conference itself was pretty wonderful. It included a traditional conference, a super valuable unconference, and finally a tour of different coworking sites across Sydney. The speaking slots were short and powerful, and the overall vibe was welcoming, exciting and enthusiastic. The second day was hosted at Fishburners, a great coworking space with an incredible team behind it.  

Nick Shewring, Co-founder of BizDojo, was a panelist in the Coworking Beyond Australia session and was joined by representatives from China and USA. Although there are definitely some key differences between the three countries this panel represented - it was interesting to note the common themes across the board.  

Dishwashers are causing problems everywhere - No matter how many passive agressive (or just aggressive) signs you put up, there will always be spoons left on the bench.

Collaborating beats competing every time - As a collective mass of owners and operators, there is the opportunity to provide so much added value if we work together. Learning from each others experiences, sharing our digital content between sites, and banding together to attract high profile guests were just a couple of the ideas tossed around. The concept of a ‘Coworking Passport’ that supports travelling entrepreneurs with access to spaces in different cities in particular was a very interesting concept for us.

Events and Activations are really important - Although demand for more desk space is high and community teams are often stretched thin, we totally agreed with those that maintained the importance of active event programmes. It is our ability to host or sponsor valuable events that is a critical component in our connection to the wider ecosystem. Internally it is just as valuable, and we run a huge selection of sessions for residents too. We are big advocates for get togethers - whether they are social, wellness or business orientated - these activities are the cultural gel that builds strong communities… and coffee. Good coffee is very important too.

Perspectives around working with government - This was an interesting one for us. The general attitude across the board towards joining with government or councils on projects was ‘too hard basket’. We are in an awesome position where we have a really successful partnership with local council. It is not always an easy road, which is completely understandable when you take into account the huge differences in traditional ways of operating for each side, but it is made a whole lot easier knowing that we have a shared vision for the people and companies that we support.

For more takeaways captured on Twitter, check out our Storify here  & our Instagram here.

Eva works for BizDojo on GridAKL - you can follow her on twitter here.