Basic elements for a definition of coworking

Hi everyone,

I’m working on a definition of Coworking to make it easier to choose who to include in the map of coworking spaces in Belgium. I know it can be a controversial subject and I don’t want to start a flamewar, but I would like to have your feedback on the basic elements to build this definition. I think it could also be helpful to make it easier to explain to our potential customers and journalists.

In my definition a Coworking space :

  • Calls itself a coworking space.
  • Has a fully dedicated espace for cowoking (not just a few hours or a cafeteria shared with patrons).
  • Treats coworkers as 1st class clients, not as a lesser kind to fill unused space.
  • Has somebody dedicated to connect the members (a facilitator, not an administrative asistant.)
  • Provides a non hostile and friendly environment that encourages collaboration and interaction.
    What do you think?

Ramon Suarez
Serendipity Accelerator, Betacowork
Author: http://coworkinghandbook.com
email & hangouts: [email protected]

Phone: +3227376769

GSM: +32497556284

Twitter:http://twitter.com/ramonsuarez
Skype: ramonsuarez

Try coworking: http://betacowork.com

I’m pretty sure that Emergent Research has a rubric they use for when they do their research for their annual report, but I can’t remember exactly what is on it. Having some consistency with that would probably be helpful!

I think it had some of the items you described, but it was a lot more specific with many of the attributes. Hopefully Steve can chime in!

I used to be more opinionated about self-describing as “coworking” and the regular mis-use of the term, but I’ve become more and more comfortable with the idea that the word coworking is as specific as the word “restaurant”, which doesn’t really describe much on its own. I’d love to see more maps (including the one you’re putting together) display with more detail what people can expect. It’s more important that people find a place that makes them happy and productive than anything else…and reducing that to “coworking” is like reducing fine dining french restaurants and mcdonalds to “restaurant”. Technically accurate, but not really helpful.

Related, this recent post caught my eye (I think Liz posted it from the GCUC account):

http://www.cloudvirtualoffice.com/blog/a-coworking-safari/

I’m especially interested in the things vary widely, really impact the experience, but are hardest to really quantify: things like “ambiance” and noise level are such relative descriptions, so the source matters a lot, too! Who’s doing the describing: the owner? The members? Visitors? In a lot of cases, their descriptions vary quite a bit.

To that point, even “non-hostile & friendly” is relative. It’s become a common theme that I hear from coworkers who visit startup-centric coworking spaces that the only time people talk to each other is when they’re pitching their startup. For some people, that’s non-hostile and friends but for others, it’s their worst nightmare.

-Alex

···

On Thu, Sep 11, 2014 at 12:34 PM, Ramon Suarez [email protected] wrote:

Hi everyone,

I’m working on a definition of Coworking to make it easier to choose who to include in the map of coworking spaces in Belgium. I know it can be a controversial subject and I don’t want to start a flamewar, but I would like to have your feedback on the basic elements to build this definition. I think it could also be helpful to make it easier to explain to our potential customers and journalists.

In my definition a Coworking space :

  • Calls itself a coworking space.
  • Has a fully dedicated espace for cowoking (not just a few hours or a cafeteria shared with patrons).
  • Treats coworkers as 1st class clients, not as a lesser kind to fill unused space.
  • Has somebody dedicated to connect the members (a facilitator, not an administrative asistant.)
  • Provides a non hostile and friendly environment that encourages collaboration and interaction.
    What do you think?

Ramon Suarez
Serendipity Accelerator, Betacowork
Author: http://coworkinghandbook.com
email & hangouts: [email protected]

Phone: +3227376769

GSM: +32497556284

Twitter:http://twitter.com/ramonsuarez
Skype: ramonsuarez

Try coworking: http://betacowork.com

Visit this forum on the web at http://discuss.coworking.com


You received this message because you are subscribed to the Google Groups “Coworking” group.

To unsubscribe from this group and stop receiving emails from it, send an email to [email protected].

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Tricky business for sure. One factor I’ve been looking more and more at is the motivations and intentions of the champions behind each community, or said another way, why the space was started in the first place. There are many conversations that come up again and again that, with hindsight, I can see are just a miss-match of intentions. For example the “Open one space or many spaces” conversation. It’s a perfectly reasonable motivation to want to open multiple spaces and have a wide reach and impact. I personally started Office Nomads because I want a home and a community I want to be a member of. Understanding this helps me see why it doesn’t make sense for us to make a chain of Office Nomads, and also why it’s a waste of everyone’s time to argue about this. If we can find neutral language to highlight distinctions like this it would go a long way to that goal of finding like-minded spaces and filling our communities with happy members.

···

Jacob


Office Nomads - Individuality without Isolation
http://www.officenomads.com - (206) 323-6500

On Thu, Sep 11, 2014 at 9:48 AM, Alex Hillman [email protected] wrote:

I’m pretty sure that Emergent Research has a rubric they use for when they do their research for their annual report, but I can’t remember exactly what is on it. Having some consistency with that would probably be helpful!

I think it had some of the items you described, but it was a lot more specific with many of the attributes. Hopefully Steve can chime in!

I used to be more opinionated about self-describing as “coworking” and the regular mis-use of the term, but I’ve become more and more comfortable with the idea that the word coworking is as specific as the word “restaurant”, which doesn’t really describe much on its own. I’d love to see more maps (including the one you’re putting together) display with more detail what people can expect. It’s more important that people find a place that makes them happy and productive than anything else…and reducing that to “coworking” is like reducing fine dining french restaurants and mcdonalds to “restaurant”. Technically accurate, but not really helpful.

Related, this recent post caught my eye (I think Liz posted it from the GCUC account):

http://www.cloudvirtualoffice.com/blog/a-coworking-safari/

I’m especially interested in the things vary widely, really impact the experience, but are hardest to really quantify: things like “ambiance” and noise level are such relative descriptions, so the source matters a lot, too! Who’s doing the describing: the owner? The members? Visitors? In a lot of cases, their descriptions vary quite a bit.

To that point, even “non-hostile & friendly” is relative. It’s become a common theme that I hear from coworkers who visit startup-centric coworking spaces that the only time people talk to each other is when they’re pitching their startup. For some people, that’s non-hostile and friends but for others, it’s their worst nightmare.

-Alex

On Thu, Sep 11, 2014 at 12:34 PM, Ramon Suarez [email protected] wrote:

Hi everyone,

I’m working on a definition of Coworking to make it easier to choose who to include in the map of coworking spaces in Belgium. I know it can be a controversial subject and I don’t want to start a flamewar, but I would like to have your feedback on the basic elements to build this definition. I think it could also be helpful to make it easier to explain to our potential customers and journalists.

In my definition a Coworking space :

  • Calls itself a coworking space.
  • Has a fully dedicated espace for cowoking (not just a few hours or a cafeteria shared with patrons).
  • Treats coworkers as 1st class clients, not as a lesser kind to fill unused space.
  • Has somebody dedicated to connect the members (a facilitator, not an administrative asistant.)
  • Provides a non hostile and friendly environment that encourages collaboration and interaction.
    What do you think?

Ramon Suarez
Serendipity Accelerator, Betacowork
Author: http://coworkinghandbook.com
email & hangouts: [email protected]

Phone: +3227376769

GSM: +32497556284

Twitter:http://twitter.com/ramonsuarez
Skype: ramonsuarez

Try coworking: http://betacowork.com

Visit this forum on the web at http://discuss.coworking.com


You received this message because you are subscribed to the Google Groups “Coworking” group.

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Visit this forum on the web at http://discuss.coworking.com


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One of the measuring sticks I use more and more is related to defining “community” rather than coworking.

As I stated at the conference in Durham, community is more about being, than doing and fulfils needs beyond the practical. (space, tech, programs, etc)

A real community meets our human needs.

To BE loved

to BElong

To BE Unique

To BE Safe

Your space, programs, interactions, billing, events, etc need to be filtered through or based on one or all of these.

When this becomes the foundation/filter, it’s easy to walk into a space, interact a bit and know, “this is legit and I want to be here!”

Then you can differentiate between the Mcky D’s and The Ritz by food and decor and price. Both satisfy a need, but which one creates community?

Coworking is like CHEERS. “where everybody knows your name.”

Chad Ballantyne

705.812.0689

ch…@thecreativespace.ca

Barrie’s Coworking Community

Perfect for small businesses, startups and entrepreneurs.

12 Dunlop St E, Barrie Ontario, L4M 1A3

Memberships start at $25/mth

www.thecreativespace.ca

705-812-0689

···

On Sep 11, 2014, at 12:48 PM, Alex Hillman [email protected] wrote:

I’m pretty sure that Emergent Research has a rubric they use for when they do their research for their annual report, but I can’t remember exactly what is on it. Having some consistency with that would probably be helpful!

I think it had some of the items you described, but it was a lot more specific with many of the attributes. Hopefully Steve can chime in!

I used to be more opinionated about self-describing as “coworking” and the regular mis-use of the term, but I’ve become more and more comfortable with the idea that the word coworking is as specific as the word “restaurant”, which doesn’t really describe much on its own. I’d love to see more maps (including the one you’re putting together) display with more detail what people can expect. It’s more important that people find a place that makes them happy and productive than anything else…and reducing that to “coworking” is like reducing fine dining french restaurants and mcdonalds to “restaurant”. Technically accurate, but not really helpful.

Related, this recent post caught my eye (I think Liz posted it from the GCUC account):

http://www.cloudvirtualoffice.com/blog/a-coworking-safari/

I’m especially interested in the things vary widely, really impact the experience, but are hardest to really quantify: things like “ambiance” and noise level are such relative descriptions, so the source matters a lot, too! Who’s doing the describing: the owner? The members? Visitors? In a lot of cases, their descriptions vary quite a bit.

To that point, even “non-hostile & friendly” is relative. It’s become a common theme that I hear from coworkers who visit startup-centric coworking spaces that the only time people talk to each other is when they’re pitching their startup. For some people, that’s non-hostile and friends but for others, it’s their worst nightmare.

-Alex

On Thu, Sep 11, 2014 at 12:34 PM, Ramon Suarez [email protected] wrote:

Hi everyone,

I’m working on a definition of Coworking to make it easier to choose who to include in the map of coworking spaces in Belgium. I know it can be a controversial subject and I don’t want to start a flamewar, but I would like to have your feedback on the basic elements to build this definition. I think it could also be helpful to make it easier to explain to our potential customers and journalists.

In my definition a Coworking space :

  • Calls itself a coworking space.
  • Has a fully dedicated espace for cowoking (not just a few hours or a cafeteria shared with patrons).
  • Treats coworkers as 1st class clients, not as a lesser kind to fill unused space.
  • Has somebody dedicated to connect the members (a facilitator, not an administrative asistant.)
  • Provides a non hostile and friendly environment that encourages collaboration and interaction.
    What do you think?

Ramon Suarez
Serendipity Accelerator, Betacowork
Author: http://coworkinghandbook.com
email & hangouts: [email protected]

Phone: +3227376769

GSM: +32497556284

Twitter:http://twitter.com/ramonsuarez
Skype: ramonsuarez

Try coworking: http://betacowork.com

Visit this forum on the web at http://discuss.coworking.com


You received this message because you are subscribed to the Google Groups “Coworking” group.

To unsubscribe from this group and stop receiving emails from it, send an email to [email protected].

For more options, visit https://groups.google.com/d/optout.

Visit this forum on the web at http://discuss.coworking.com


You received this message because you are subscribed to the Google Groups “Coworking” group.

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"If we can find neutral language to highlight distinctions like this it would go a long way to that goal of finding like-minded spaces and filling our communities with happy members.”

I don’t think that more neutral language is what we need. In fact, I think we need the opposite.

The restaurant industry has fine dining and fast food, regional cuisines, varying price points, etc. But people need to have terms like “fast food” and “korean BBQ” to narrow down what they’re looking for.

I know that this sounds like fragmentation, which freaks a lot of people out. I think this is HEALTHY fragmentation, though, like this: http://dangerouslyawesome.com/2014/07/theres-never-only-one-community/

It doesn’t mean that we can’t be friends, or even help each other, but I’m firmly convinced that having some more narrow specific terminology to add to add to the more neutral term ‘coworking’ is going to help the industry, not hurt it.

-Alex

···

Jacob


Office Nomads - Individuality without Isolation
http://www.officenomads.com - (206) 323-6500

On Thu, Sep 11, 2014 at 9:48 AM, Alex Hillman [email protected] wrote:

I’m pretty sure that Emergent Research has a rubric they use for when they do their research for their annual report, but I can’t remember exactly what is on it. Having some consistency with that would probably be helpful!

I think it had some of the items you described, but it was a lot more specific with many of the attributes. Hopefully Steve can chime in!

I used to be more opinionated about self-describing as “coworking” and the regular mis-use of the term, but I’ve become more and more comfortable with the idea that the word coworking is as specific as the word “restaurant”, which doesn’t really describe much on its own. I’d love to see more maps (including the one you’re putting together) display with more detail what people can expect. It’s more important that people find a place that makes them happy and productive than anything else…and reducing that to “coworking” is like reducing fine dining french restaurants and mcdonalds to “restaurant”. Technically accurate, but not really helpful.

Related, this recent post caught my eye (I think Liz posted it from the GCUC account):

http://www.cloudvirtualoffice.com/blog/a-coworking-safari/

I’m especially interested in the things vary widely, really impact the experience, but are hardest to really quantify: things like “ambiance” and noise level are such relative descriptions, so the source matters a lot, too! Who’s doing the describing: the owner? The members? Visitors? In a lot of cases, their descriptions vary quite a bit.

To that point, even “non-hostile & friendly” is relative. It’s become a common theme that I hear from coworkers who visit startup-centric coworking spaces that the only time people talk to each other is when they’re pitching their startup. For some people, that’s non-hostile and friends but for others, it’s their worst nightmare.

-Alex

On Thu, Sep 11, 2014 at 12:34 PM, Ramon Suarez [email protected] wrote:

Hi everyone,

I’m working on a definition of Coworking to make it easier to choose who to include in the map of coworking spaces in Belgium. I know it can be a controversial subject and I don’t want to start a flamewar, but I would like to have your feedback on the basic elements to build this definition. I think it could also be helpful to make it easier to explain to our potential customers and journalists.

In my definition a Coworking space :

  • Calls itself a coworking space.
  • Has a fully dedicated espace for cowoking (not just a few hours or a cafeteria shared with patrons).
  • Treats coworkers as 1st class clients, not as a lesser kind to fill unused space.
  • Has somebody dedicated to connect the members (a facilitator, not an administrative asistant.)
  • Provides a non hostile and friendly environment that encourages collaboration and interaction.
    What do you think?

Ramon Suarez
Serendipity Accelerator, Betacowork
Author: http://coworkinghandbook.com
email & hangouts: [email protected]

Phone: +3227376769

GSM: +32497556284

Twitter:http://twitter.com/ramonsuarez
Skype: ramonsuarez

Try coworking: http://betacowork.com

Visit this forum on the web at http://discuss.coworking.com


You received this message because you are subscribed to the Google Groups “Coworking” group.

To unsubscribe from this group and stop receiving emails from it, send an email to [email protected].

For more options, visit https://groups.google.com/d/optout.

Visit this forum on the web at http://discuss.coworking.com


You received this message because you are subscribed to the Google Groups “Coworking” group.

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Ah let me clarify. By “neutral” I didn’t mean “less specific” I meant “less hostile” or actually “more open to the difference”. Using terms like “Korean BBQ” is a good example of this as it’s not derogatory. Likening another space to a fast food joint is a little less neutral.

···

Jacob


Office Nomads - Individuality without Isolation
http://www.officenomads.com - (206) 323-6500

On Thu, Sep 11, 2014 at 10:24 AM, Alex Hillman [email protected] wrote:

"If we can find neutral language to highlight distinctions like this it would go a long way to that goal of finding like-minded spaces and filling our communities with happy members.”

I don’t think that more neutral language is what we need. In fact, I think we need the opposite.

The restaurant industry has fine dining and fast food, regional cuisines, varying price points, etc. But people need to have terms like “fast food” and “korean BBQ” to narrow down what they’re looking for.

I know that this sounds like fragmentation, which freaks a lot of people out. I think this is HEALTHY fragmentation, though, like this: http://dangerouslyawesome.com/2014/07/theres-never-only-one-community/

It doesn’t mean that we can’t be friends, or even help each other, but I’m firmly convinced that having some more narrow specific terminology to add to add to the more neutral term ‘coworking’ is going to help the industry, not hurt it.

-Alex

On Thu, Sep 11, 2014 at 1:16 PM, Jacob Sayles [email protected] wrote:

Tricky business for sure. One factor I’ve been looking more and more at is the motivations and intentions of the champions behind each community, or said another way, why the space was started in the first place. There are many conversations that come up again and again that, with hindsight, I can see are just a miss-match of intentions. For example the “Open one space or many spaces” conversation. It’s a perfectly reasonable motivation to want to open multiple spaces and have a wide reach and impact. I personally started Office Nomads because I want a home and a community I want to be a member of. Understanding this helps me see why it doesn’t make sense for us to make a chain of Office Nomads, and also why it’s a waste of everyone’s time to argue about this. If we can find neutral language to highlight distinctions like this it would go a long way to that goal of finding like-minded spaces and filling our communities with happy members.

Visit this forum on the web at http://discuss.coworking.com


You received this message because you are subscribed to the Google Groups “Coworking” group.

To unsubscribe from this group and stop receiving emails from it, send an email to [email protected].

For more options, visit https://groups.google.com/d/optout.

Visit this forum on the web at http://discuss.coworking.com


You received this message because you are subscribed to the Google Groups “Coworking” group.

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Jacob


Office Nomads - Individuality without Isolation
http://www.officenomads.com - (206) 323-6500

On Thu, Sep 11, 2014 at 9:48 AM, Alex Hillman [email protected] wrote:

I’m pretty sure that Emergent Research has a rubric they use for when they do their research for their annual report, but I can’t remember exactly what is on it. Having some consistency with that would probably be helpful!

I think it had some of the items you described, but it was a lot more specific with many of the attributes. Hopefully Steve can chime in!

I used to be more opinionated about self-describing as “coworking” and the regular mis-use of the term, but I’ve become more and more comfortable with the idea that the word coworking is as specific as the word “restaurant”, which doesn’t really describe much on its own. I’d love to see more maps (including the one you’re putting together) display with more detail what people can expect. It’s more important that people find a place that makes them happy and productive than anything else…and reducing that to “coworking” is like reducing fine dining french restaurants and mcdonalds to “restaurant”. Technically accurate, but not really helpful.

Related, this recent post caught my eye (I think Liz posted it from the GCUC account):

http://www.cloudvirtualoffice.com/blog/a-coworking-safari/

I’m especially interested in the things vary widely, really impact the experience, but are hardest to really quantify: things like “ambiance” and noise level are such relative descriptions, so the source matters a lot, too! Who’s doing the describing: the owner? The members? Visitors? In a lot of cases, their descriptions vary quite a bit.

To that point, even “non-hostile & friendly” is relative. It’s become a common theme that I hear from coworkers who visit startup-centric coworking spaces that the only time people talk to each other is when they’re pitching their startup. For some people, that’s non-hostile and friends but for others, it’s their worst nightmare.

-Alex

On Thu, Sep 11, 2014 at 12:34 PM, Ramon Suarez [email protected] wrote:

Hi everyone,

I’m working on a definition of Coworking to make it easier to choose who to include in the map of coworking spaces in Belgium. I know it can be a controversial subject and I don’t want to start a flamewar, but I would like to have your feedback on the basic elements to build this definition. I think it could also be helpful to make it easier to explain to our potential customers and journalists.

In my definition a Coworking space :

  • Calls itself a coworking space.
  • Has a fully dedicated espace for cowoking (not just a few hours or a cafeteria shared with patrons).
  • Treats coworkers as 1st class clients, not as a lesser kind to fill unused space.
  • Has somebody dedicated to connect the members (a facilitator, not an administrative asistant.)
  • Provides a non hostile and friendly environment that encourages collaboration and interaction.
    What do you think?

Ramon Suarez
Serendipity Accelerator, Betacowork
Author: http://coworkinghandbook.com
email & hangouts: [email protected]

Phone: +3227376769

GSM: +32497556284

Twitter:http://twitter.com/ramonsuarez
Skype: ramonsuarez

Try coworking: http://betacowork.com

Visit this forum on the web at http://discuss.coworking.com


You received this message because you are subscribed to the Google Groups “Coworking” group.

To unsubscribe from this group and stop receiving emails from it, send an email to [email protected].

For more options, visit https://groups.google.com/d/optout.

Visit this forum on the web at http://discuss.coworking.com


You received this message because you are subscribed to the Google Groups “Coworking” group.

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"Likening another space to a fast food joint is a little less neutral.”

Lots of people love fast food and don’t think of it as derogatory at all.

Again - the source matters.

-Alex

···

Jacob


Office Nomads - Individuality without Isolation
http://www.officenomads.com - (206) 323-6500

On Thu, Sep 11, 2014 at 10:24 AM, Alex Hillman [email protected] wrote:

"If we can find neutral language to highlight distinctions like this it would go a long way to that goal of finding like-minded spaces and filling our communities with happy members.”

I don’t think that more neutral language is what we need. In fact, I think we need the opposite.

The restaurant industry has fine dining and fast food, regional cuisines, varying price points, etc. But people need to have terms like “fast food” and “korean BBQ” to narrow down what they’re looking for.

I know that this sounds like fragmentation, which freaks a lot of people out. I think this is HEALTHY fragmentation, though, like this: http://dangerouslyawesome.com/2014/07/theres-never-only-one-community/

It doesn’t mean that we can’t be friends, or even help each other, but I’m firmly convinced that having some more narrow specific terminology to add to add to the more neutral term ‘coworking’ is going to help the industry, not hurt it.

-Alex

On Thu, Sep 11, 2014 at 1:16 PM, Jacob Sayles [email protected] wrote:

Tricky business for sure. One factor I’ve been looking more and more at is the motivations and intentions of the champions behind each community, or said another way, why the space was started in the first place. There are many conversations that come up again and again that, with hindsight, I can see are just a miss-match of intentions. For example the “Open one space or many spaces” conversation. It’s a perfectly reasonable motivation to want to open multiple spaces and have a wide reach and impact. I personally started Office Nomads because I want a home and a community I want to be a member of. Understanding this helps me see why it doesn’t make sense for us to make a chain of Office Nomads, and also why it’s a waste of everyone’s time to argue about this. If we can find neutral language to highlight distinctions like this it would go a long way to that goal of finding like-minded spaces and filling our communities with happy members.

Visit this forum on the web at http://discuss.coworking.com


You received this message because you are subscribed to the Google Groups “Coworking” group.

To unsubscribe from this group and stop receiving emails from it, send an email to [email protected].

For more options, visit https://groups.google.com/d/optout.

Visit this forum on the web at http://discuss.coworking.com


You received this message because you are subscribed to the Google Groups “Coworking” group.

To unsubscribe from this group and stop receiving emails from it, send an email to [email protected].

For more options, visit https://groups.google.com/d/optout.

Jacob


Office Nomads - Individuality without Isolation
http://www.officenomads.com - (206) 323-6500

On Thu, Sep 11, 2014 at 9:48 AM, Alex Hillman [email protected] wrote:

I’m pretty sure that Emergent Research has a rubric they use for when they do their research for their annual report, but I can’t remember exactly what is on it. Having some consistency with that would probably be helpful!

I think it had some of the items you described, but it was a lot more specific with many of the attributes. Hopefully Steve can chime in!

I used to be more opinionated about self-describing as “coworking” and the regular mis-use of the term, but I’ve become more and more comfortable with the idea that the word coworking is as specific as the word “restaurant”, which doesn’t really describe much on its own. I’d love to see more maps (including the one you’re putting together) display with more detail what people can expect. It’s more important that people find a place that makes them happy and productive than anything else…and reducing that to “coworking” is like reducing fine dining french restaurants and mcdonalds to “restaurant”. Technically accurate, but not really helpful.

Related, this recent post caught my eye (I think Liz posted it from the GCUC account):

http://www.cloudvirtualoffice.com/blog/a-coworking-safari/

I’m especially interested in the things vary widely, really impact the experience, but are hardest to really quantify: things like “ambiance” and noise level are such relative descriptions, so the source matters a lot, too! Who’s doing the describing: the owner? The members? Visitors? In a lot of cases, their descriptions vary quite a bit.

To that point, even “non-hostile & friendly” is relative. It’s become a common theme that I hear from coworkers who visit startup-centric coworking spaces that the only time people talk to each other is when they’re pitching their startup. For some people, that’s non-hostile and friends but for others, it’s their worst nightmare.

-Alex

On Thu, Sep 11, 2014 at 12:34 PM, Ramon Suarez [email protected] wrote:

Hi everyone,

I’m working on a definition of Coworking to make it easier to choose who to include in the map of coworking spaces in Belgium. I know it can be a controversial subject and I don’t want to start a flamewar, but I would like to have your feedback on the basic elements to build this definition. I think it could also be helpful to make it easier to explain to our potential customers and journalists.

In my definition a Coworking space :

  • Calls itself a coworking space.
  • Has a fully dedicated espace for cowoking (not just a few hours or a cafeteria shared with patrons).
  • Treats coworkers as 1st class clients, not as a lesser kind to fill unused space.
  • Has somebody dedicated to connect the members (a facilitator, not an administrative asistant.)
  • Provides a non hostile and friendly environment that encourages collaboration and interaction.
    What do you think?

Ramon Suarez
Serendipity Accelerator, Betacowork
Author: http://coworkinghandbook.com
email & hangouts: [email protected]

Phone: +3227376769

GSM: +32497556284

Twitter:http://twitter.com/ramonsuarez
Skype: ramonsuarez

Try coworking: http://betacowork.com

Visit this forum on the web at http://discuss.coworking.com


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Case in point: WITHIN the fast food industry, they refer to themselves as “QSRs” or “Quick Service Restaurants”. Sometimes it’s “Fast Casual”. That industry by itself is huge and diverse, even as a subset of the larger restaurant industry.

http://www.qsrmagazine.com/

http://www.qsrweb.com/

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fast_food_restaurant

But tell me one time that you’ve heard someone dining at Micky D’s call it “Fast Casual” :slight_smile:

-Alex

···

Jacob


Office Nomads - Individuality without Isolation
http://www.officenomads.com - (206) 323-6500

On Thu, Sep 11, 2014 at 10:24 AM, Alex Hillman [email protected] wrote:

"If we can find neutral language to highlight distinctions like this it would go a long way to that goal of finding like-minded spaces and filling our communities with happy members.”

I don’t think that more neutral language is what we need. In fact, I think we need the opposite.

The restaurant industry has fine dining and fast food, regional cuisines, varying price points, etc. But people need to have terms like “fast food” and “korean BBQ” to narrow down what they’re looking for.

I know that this sounds like fragmentation, which freaks a lot of people out. I think this is HEALTHY fragmentation, though, like this: http://dangerouslyawesome.com/2014/07/theres-never-only-one-community/

It doesn’t mean that we can’t be friends, or even help each other, but I’m firmly convinced that having some more narrow specific terminology to add to add to the more neutral term ‘coworking’ is going to help the industry, not hurt it.

-Alex

On Thu, Sep 11, 2014 at 1:16 PM, Jacob Sayles [email protected] wrote:

Tricky business for sure. One factor I’ve been looking more and more at is the motivations and intentions of the champions behind each community, or said another way, why the space was started in the first place. There are many conversations that come up again and again that, with hindsight, I can see are just a miss-match of intentions. For example the “Open one space or many spaces” conversation. It’s a perfectly reasonable motivation to want to open multiple spaces and have a wide reach and impact. I personally started Office Nomads because I want a home and a community I want to be a member of. Understanding this helps me see why it doesn’t make sense for us to make a chain of Office Nomads, and also why it’s a waste of everyone’s time to argue about this. If we can find neutral language to highlight distinctions like this it would go a long way to that goal of finding like-minded spaces and filling our communities with happy members.

Visit this forum on the web at http://discuss.coworking.com


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Office Nomads - Individuality without Isolation
http://www.officenomads.com - (206) 323-6500

On Thu, Sep 11, 2014 at 9:48 AM, Alex Hillman [email protected] wrote:

I’m pretty sure that Emergent Research has a rubric they use for when they do their research for their annual report, but I can’t remember exactly what is on it. Having some consistency with that would probably be helpful!

I think it had some of the items you described, but it was a lot more specific with many of the attributes. Hopefully Steve can chime in!

I used to be more opinionated about self-describing as “coworking” and the regular mis-use of the term, but I’ve become more and more comfortable with the idea that the word coworking is as specific as the word “restaurant”, which doesn’t really describe much on its own. I’d love to see more maps (including the one you’re putting together) display with more detail what people can expect. It’s more important that people find a place that makes them happy and productive than anything else…and reducing that to “coworking” is like reducing fine dining french restaurants and mcdonalds to “restaurant”. Technically accurate, but not really helpful.

Related, this recent post caught my eye (I think Liz posted it from the GCUC account):

http://www.cloudvirtualoffice.com/blog/a-coworking-safari/

I’m especially interested in the things vary widely, really impact the experience, but are hardest to really quantify: things like “ambiance” and noise level are such relative descriptions, so the source matters a lot, too! Who’s doing the describing: the owner? The members? Visitors? In a lot of cases, their descriptions vary quite a bit.

To that point, even “non-hostile & friendly” is relative. It’s become a common theme that I hear from coworkers who visit startup-centric coworking spaces that the only time people talk to each other is when they’re pitching their startup. For some people, that’s non-hostile and friends but for others, it’s their worst nightmare.

-Alex

On Thu, Sep 11, 2014 at 12:34 PM, Ramon Suarez [email protected] wrote:

Hi everyone,

I’m working on a definition of Coworking to make it easier to choose who to include in the map of coworking spaces in Belgium. I know it can be a controversial subject and I don’t want to start a flamewar, but I would like to have your feedback on the basic elements to build this definition. I think it could also be helpful to make it easier to explain to our potential customers and journalists.

In my definition a Coworking space :

  • Calls itself a coworking space.
  • Has a fully dedicated espace for cowoking (not just a few hours or a cafeteria shared with patrons).
  • Treats coworkers as 1st class clients, not as a lesser kind to fill unused space.
  • Has somebody dedicated to connect the members (a facilitator, not an administrative asistant.)
  • Provides a non hostile and friendly environment that encourages collaboration and interaction.
    What do you think?

Ramon Suarez
Serendipity Accelerator, Betacowork
Author: http://coworkinghandbook.com
email & hangouts: [email protected]

Phone: +3227376769

GSM: +32497556284

Twitter:http://twitter.com/ramonsuarez
Skype: ramonsuarez

Try coworking: http://betacowork.com

Visit this forum on the web at http://discuss.coworking.com


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I agree with Alex. I have been arguing for sometime the restaurant metaphor. I think we would be better served trying to define the “categories” instead of the industry. Hell one could argue that coworking is already a category of an industry. :slight_smile:

Commercial Real Estate

  • Shared Space

  • Coworking

  • category 1

  • category 2

  • category 3

For a long time we distanced the work we were doing at Gangplank from coworking, because so many of the coworking spaces were indistinguishable from Regus and the movement that existed felt like it had little soul (it has improved a lot in the last few years). We started to use the word collaborative space instead of coworking. It was our way of defining the category as we saw our world without having to fight for a definition of coworking that matched our world view. Sharing space to work beside each wasn’t what we were doing. Collaborating as a community to work with each other was far more descriptive.

We stopped saying… We are not a restaurant. Instead we started saying yeah we are restaurant style we call a collaborative space.

One could argue does Regus (executive office suites) fall under Shared Space or under Coworking? etc… but I think those discussions and getting some shared concepts of the categories is far more useful than trying to come up with either a generic term for coworking or narrowing the funnel of what coworking is.

My two cents.

···

On Thu, Sep 11, 2014 at 10:45 AM, Alex Hillman [email protected] wrote:

Case in point: WITHIN the fast food industry, they refer to themselves as “QSRs” or “Quick Service Restaurants”. Sometimes it’s “Fast Casual”. That industry by itself is huge and diverse, even as a subset of the larger restaurant industry.

http://www.qsrmagazine.com/

http://www.qsrweb.com/

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fast_food_restaurant

But tell me one time that you’ve heard someone dining at Micky D’s call it “Fast Casual” :slight_smile:

-Alex

On Thu, Sep 11, 2014 at 1:40 PM, Alex Hillman [email protected] wrote:

"Likening another space to a fast food joint is a little less neutral.”

Lots of people love fast food and don’t think of it as derogatory at all.

Again - the source matters.

-Alex

On Thu, Sep 11, 2014 at 1:38 PM, Jacob Sayles [email protected] wrote:

Ah let me clarify. By “neutral” I didn’t mean “less specific” I meant “less hostile” or actually “more open to the difference”. Using terms like “Korean BBQ” is a good example of this as it’s not derogatory. Likening another space to a fast food joint is a little less neutral.

Visit this forum on the web at http://discuss.coworking.com


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Office Nomads - Individuality without Isolation
http://www.officenomads.com - (206) 323-6500

On Thu, Sep 11, 2014 at 10:24 AM, Alex Hillman [email protected] wrote:

"If we can find neutral language to highlight distinctions like this it would go a long way to that goal of finding like-minded spaces and filling our communities with happy members.”

I don’t think that more neutral language is what we need. In fact, I think we need the opposite.

The restaurant industry has fine dining and fast food, regional cuisines, varying price points, etc. But people need to have terms like “fast food” and “korean BBQ” to narrow down what they’re looking for.

I know that this sounds like fragmentation, which freaks a lot of people out. I think this is HEALTHY fragmentation, though, like this: http://dangerouslyawesome.com/2014/07/theres-never-only-one-community/

It doesn’t mean that we can’t be friends, or even help each other, but I’m firmly convinced that having some more narrow specific terminology to add to add to the more neutral term ‘coworking’ is going to help the industry, not hurt it.

-Alex

On Thu, Sep 11, 2014 at 1:16 PM, Jacob Sayles [email protected] wrote:

Tricky business for sure. One factor I’ve been looking more and more at is the motivations and intentions of the champions behind each community, or said another way, why the space was started in the first place. There are many conversations that come up again and again that, with hindsight, I can see are just a miss-match of intentions. For example the “Open one space or many spaces” conversation. It’s a perfectly reasonable motivation to want to open multiple spaces and have a wide reach and impact. I personally started Office Nomads because I want a home and a community I want to be a member of. Understanding this helps me see why it doesn’t make sense for us to make a chain of Office Nomads, and also why it’s a waste of everyone’s time to argue about this. If we can find neutral language to highlight distinctions like this it would go a long way to that goal of finding like-minded spaces and filling our communities with happy members.

Visit this forum on the web at http://discuss.coworking.com


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Office Nomads - Individuality without Isolation
http://www.officenomads.com - (206) 323-6500

On Thu, Sep 11, 2014 at 9:48 AM, Alex Hillman [email protected] wrote:

I’m pretty sure that Emergent Research has a rubric they use for when they do their research for their annual report, but I can’t remember exactly what is on it. Having some consistency with that would probably be helpful!

I think it had some of the items you described, but it was a lot more specific with many of the attributes. Hopefully Steve can chime in!

I used to be more opinionated about self-describing as “coworking” and the regular mis-use of the term, but I’ve become more and more comfortable with the idea that the word coworking is as specific as the word “restaurant”, which doesn’t really describe much on its own. I’d love to see more maps (including the one you’re putting together) display with more detail what people can expect. It’s more important that people find a place that makes them happy and productive than anything else…and reducing that to “coworking” is like reducing fine dining french restaurants and mcdonalds to “restaurant”. Technically accurate, but not really helpful.

Related, this recent post caught my eye (I think Liz posted it from the GCUC account):

http://www.cloudvirtualoffice.com/blog/a-coworking-safari/

I’m especially interested in the things vary widely, really impact the experience, but are hardest to really quantify: things like “ambiance” and noise level are such relative descriptions, so the source matters a lot, too! Who’s doing the describing: the owner? The members? Visitors? In a lot of cases, their descriptions vary quite a bit.

To that point, even “non-hostile & friendly” is relative. It’s become a common theme that I hear from coworkers who visit startup-centric coworking spaces that the only time people talk to each other is when they’re pitching their startup. For some people, that’s non-hostile and friends but for others, it’s their worst nightmare.

-Alex

On Thu, Sep 11, 2014 at 12:34 PM, Ramon Suarez [email protected] wrote:

Hi everyone,

I’m working on a definition of Coworking to make it easier to choose who to include in the map of coworking spaces in Belgium. I know it can be a controversial subject and I don’t want to start a flamewar, but I would like to have your feedback on the basic elements to build this definition. I think it could also be helpful to make it easier to explain to our potential customers and journalists.

In my definition a Coworking space :

  • Calls itself a coworking space.
  • Has a fully dedicated espace for cowoking (not just a few hours or a cafeteria shared with patrons).
  • Treats coworkers as 1st class clients, not as a lesser kind to fill unused space.
  • Has somebody dedicated to connect the members (a facilitator, not an administrative asistant.)
  • Provides a non hostile and friendly environment that encourages collaboration and interaction.
    What do you think?

Ramon Suarez
Serendipity Accelerator, Betacowork
Author: http://coworkinghandbook.com
email & hangouts: [email protected]

Phone: +3227376769

GSM: +32497556284

Twitter:http://twitter.com/ramonsuarez
Skype: ramonsuarez

Try coworking: http://betacowork.com

Visit this forum on the web at http://discuss.coworking.com


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Re #3: I think that a crucial point is not only how coworkers are treated, but also what they are called. If they’re called clients, renters or something similar, then this is a strong indication that we have an office space of a slightly different format: flexoffice, business center, startup incubator, etc. In my opinion a coworking space – being a community of coworkers – always calls and treats its coworkers members.

···

On Thursday, September 11, 2014 8:34:41 PM UTC+4, Ramon Suarez wrote:

Hi everyone,

I’m working on a definition of Coworking to make it easier to choose who to include in the map of coworking spaces in Belgium. I know it can be a controversial subject and I don’t want to start a flamewar, but I would like to have your feedback on the basic elements to build this definition. I think it could also be helpful to make it easier to explain to our potential customers and journalists.

In my definition a Coworking space :

  • Calls itself a coworking space.
  • Has a fully dedicated espace for cowoking (not just a few hours or a cafeteria shared with patrons).
  • Treats coworkers as 1st class clients, not as a lesser kind to fill unused space.
  • Has somebody dedicated to connect the members (a facilitator, not an administrative asistant.)
  • Provides a non hostile and friendly environment that encourages collaboration and interaction.
    What do you think?

Ramon Suarez
Serendipity Accelerator, Betacowork
Author: http://coworkinghandbook.com
email & hangouts: [email protected]

Phone: +3227376769

GSM: +32497556284

Twitter:http://twitter.com/ramonsuarez
Skype: ramonsuarez

Try coworking: http://betacowork.com

Count on Ramon for a great discussion. :slight_smile:

It is also true that many things vary from country to country. If you arrive inthe Netherlands with a message that we love each other it is going to come over in not exactly the same way as it does in the Bay Area. Or in Canada. Not at all to knock that mesaage, but I happen to know that in the Netherlands the hookers are also coworking. :slight_smile:

On a serious note: what community means varies widely by culture, even within the US, let alone allowing for international variance.

One of my spaces is a pilot project in coworking for webshops, internet based sevice businesses, import-export, and the trades. It is in a warehouse space in an industrial region and has almost no office space; it is exactly developed for companies who do not need that. And its community takes place almost exclusively on line. The struggle there is actually exactly this part of your question: we do have somebody to connect the members. And it has become apparent that we need for them to find each other, in many ways we are getting in the way of the community. We are as a community in discussion abotu it and it is really interesting to me. It is in a constant state of flux while we try to find the nexus points between location and community.

Regus is also interested in Coworking as far as I can tell, though it varies widely by location of course. They are also trying to find their way I think, as are a lot of the executive office type operations.

But my own rule of thumb (which the Dutch call a “fist rule” , lol) is whether the people running the space and the people working htere are in it together or not. WHich is not terribly objective as metrics go but there you are. Are the coworkers only sharing with each other, or is the organization of the space and the coworkers sharing together?

···

On Thursday, September 11, 2014 6:34:41 PM UTC+2, Ramon Suarez wrote:

Hi everyone,

I’m working on a definition of Coworking to make it easier to choose who to include in the map of coworking spaces in Belgium. I know it can be a controversial subject and I don’t want to start a flamewar, but I would like to have your feedback on the basic elements to build this definition. I think it could also be helpful to make it easier to explain to our potential customers and journalists.

In my definition a Coworking space :

  • Calls itself a coworking space.
  • Has a fully dedicated espace for cowoking (not just a few hours or a cafeteria shared with patrons).
  • Treats coworkers as 1st class clients, not as a lesser kind to fill unused space.
  • Has somebody dedicated to connect the members (a facilitator, not an administrative asistant.)
  • Provides a non hostile and friendly environment that encourages collaboration and interaction.
    What do you think?

Ramon Suarez
Serendipity Accelerator, Betacowork
Author: http://coworkinghandbook.com
email & hangouts: [email protected]

Phone: +3227376769

GSM: +32497556284

Twitter:http://twitter.com/ramonsuarez
Skype: ramonsuarez

Try coworking: http://betacowork.com

In my opinion a coworking space – being a community of coworkers – always calls and treats its coworkers members.


I like this one a lot!!

-Alex

Thanks to all for your insightful answers :slight_smile:

Thanks for the link Alex, it is really interesting. They have a very simple definition: The rule was for all participants to check in a location that promotes itself online as “coworking,”

I’ve gonne the other way around: the definition of coworking did not matter much and now it matters more and more. I agree that not all restaurants are the same and in fact I use that as an example, but that is something that you have to experience or figure out via their menu/website and appearance. Event if restaurants vary a lot, they have a common set of things that define them as a restaurant, and that differentiate them from coffee shops, bars, cooking schools, catering spaces, etc.

I’m not trying to define the whole of the collaborative ways of working space, just the basic elements of what is coworking.

Jacob, I agree that the motivation and experience have a huge impact on the personality of the space and the kind of clients it will keep, but still: don’t you think we can figure out a minimal set of factors that identify a space as a coworking space?

Chad, you are right about community, it is a really identifying factor. There are looser and closely knit communities. How would you define it from the outside and not from the feelings of the members?

[email protected] Yes, they are members of a community, but also our clients. Not just clients, but still clients. We owe them a service for their money, and we engage in a contract with them for this.

Jeanine, thanks :slight_smile: You are very right in the international differences and even within a city. In our experience the word love creates the wrong image of being more like a commune. We say friendly, but not friends: the attitude we know, we can not assure that one particular person is going to make friends and most are not looking for that, in fact it turns them away.

What Regus calls coworking is just an open space, and an open space is not coworking, although coworking spaces do have open spaces. Their clients, like most clients of business centers, are not looking to be part of a community, except maybe a community of status-quo/club-house. We (Stefania, Sara, and I) consider ourselves also members of our coworking community, we are betacoworkers too, but we do have a special role and responsabilities.

When I wrote The Coworking Handbook, I dedicated part of the intro to talk about different kinds of collaborative working spaces. Not being a coworking space is not an issue, it is OK. Being a coworking is not just using a name like if we were wearing a purse of Louis Vuitton. I think the text contains a lot of interesting elements, but it is too long. Here’s the original text:

The defining characteristics of coworking spaces are their facilitators and their

community of coworkers. Coworking spaces are created for the community and with

the community in mind. It is not just a real estate business in which a physical space is

rented: the role of the facilitator (or host, concierge, community leader, or any other

title you want to use) is to enhance the connections and interactions of the coworkers to

bring them value and to actively accelerate serendipity. It is a network, not just a place.

It is not enough to put a bunch of people together in a room: you must work hard to

create the right interactions that form a sense of community.

What is this thing about accelerating serendipity? What is serendipity and how can you

accelerate it? Serendipity is the chance discovery of something good or useful that you

were not looking for.

For example: you are talking with the person right next to you at the gym about a sport.

You are there just to exercise, but you end up in this conversation without seeking it.

You then end up talking about your startup project and that person gets you in touch

with a friend who can become your first client. You did not know that this person was

connected to that prospect, it just came up in conversation. You just won a new

prospect and the other person has connected his or her friend to a possible business

contact.

Serendipity—being an accident, something that happens out of chance—cannot be

organized like a recipe or a computer script, but if we set up a framework of actions,

processes, and reflexes, this will help us increase the chances of it. We can create the

right ambiance, attitude and systems to make it happen more often.

But not everything can rely on chance and serendipity. The coworking space managers

know their community best and have more connections, and they are always learning

from them. It is part of their job to help connect people, to build trust, and to reduce

friction (to make it easier to connect), so that more exchanges can happen more easily.

They are the ones that will value the needs and personality of the coworkers to suggest

the best matches.

The focus of coworking is on its community, so spaces come in all shapes and sizes:

workers in only one industry, many industries, fixed desks, shared desks, pre­approval

of members, direct sign­up, temporary pop­up coworking spaces, more trendy­,

industrial­, or business­oriented spaces… The design of the space is not so important—

what matters are the people who populate it and their interactions. This is what makes

or breaks a coworking space.

You will find the word “coworking” used for many different kinds of spaces, but don’t

be mistaken: many of them offer nothing more than shared desks (formerly known as

hot­desks, open spaces, and flex­desks) and treat the coworkers as a second­class

client. An open space is just that: an open space. It is a configuration of a room, it does

not imply anything else.

To know if you are in a real coworking space or not, check if the operators of the space

do something to accelerate and dynamize the community. Coworking is a verb, it

implies action from the coworking operators to build a community. If all they offer is

shared secretarial services, they are not a coworking space.

The part I like the most is that coworking is a verb and requires action to happen, it is not just a space. The part I don’t like is that is too convoluted and long.

One of the things I’m glad to see is that when we talk coworking not only the people at Betacowork end up discussing food :wink:

···

On Friday, September 12, 2014 1:15:23 PM UTC+2, Alex Hillman wrote:

In my opinion a coworking space – being a community of coworkers – always calls and treats its coworkers members.


I like this one a lot!!

-Alex

To Alex’s map point we’ve had a lot of success with helping people see our building in relation to other as seen here

And then maps of the interior of each space

here http://coherecommunity.com/the-space/cohere-oldtown

and there http://coherecommunity.com/the-space/cohere-midtown/

People seem to really enjoy looking at maps before they arrive somewhere.

Angel

···

On Thursday, September 11, 2014 10:34:41 AM UTC-6, Ramon Suarez wrote:

Hi everyone,

I’m working on a definition of Coworking to make it easier to choose who to include in the map of coworking spaces in Belgium. I know it can be a controversial subject and I don’t want to start a flamewar, but I would like to have your feedback on the basic elements to build this definition. I think it could also be helpful to make it easier to explain to our potential customers and journalists.

In my definition a Coworking space :

  • Calls itself a coworking space.
  • Has a fully dedicated espace for cowoking (not just a few hours or a cafeteria shared with patrons).
  • Treats coworkers as 1st class clients, not as a lesser kind to fill unused space.
  • Has somebody dedicated to connect the members (a facilitator, not an administrative asistant.)
  • Provides a non hostile and friendly environment that encourages collaboration and interaction.
    What do you think?

Ramon Suarez
Serendipity Accelerator, Betacowork
Author: http://coworkinghandbook.com
email & hangouts: [email protected]

Phone: +3227376769

GSM: +32497556284

Twitter:http://twitter.com/ramonsuarez
Skype: ramonsuarez

Try coworking: http://betacowork.com

Food is love, everywhere. :slight_smile:

Again on the differences: I cannot call my coworkers members. Bec ause in Dutch the word members (leden) implies a kind of organization called a vereniging (club) and also implies a particular kind of governance (that the members vote on policy and control the management). So when I said I had members, I got a stern call from the government suggesting that I was engaging in sales fraud, because we are not a club but a corporation.

Yes really.

So I switched to another word for member, which is deelnemer (participant). This was better, at least nobody was alleging that I was engaging in fraudulent sales practices. But it is not a terribly, um, easy to use word, it does not roll trippingly from the tongue and nobody calls themselves that. So we went to coworkers, which has the charm of being foreign and so not implying anything at all.

Here is my honest opinion: I think a minimum definition and also segmentation of the market will occur, has to occur, but I think we don’t get to come up with it. I know, the marketeers are all going to kill me but people do that. They name things and segment things based on what they see. And I think we are not there yet. Here they have a division between flexoffices (flexplekken) and shared office space (gedeeld kantoorruimte), coworking generally falling into the latter. But I really think the segmentation is going ot come from the public, not from us. BEcause anyone can say anything and often do.

···

On Friday, September 12, 2014 3:28:41 PM UTC+2, Ramon Suarez wrote:

Thanks to all for your insightful answers :slight_smile:

Thanks for the link Alex, it is really interesting. They have a very simple definition: The rule was for all participants to check in a location that promotes itself online as “coworking,”

I’ve gonne the other way around: the definition of coworking did not matter much and now it matters more and more. I agree that not all restaurants are the same and in fact I use that as an example, but that is something that you have to experience or figure out via their menu/website and appearance. Event if restaurants vary a lot, they have a common set of things that define them as a restaurant, and that differentiate them from coffee shops, bars, cooking schools, catering spaces, etc.

I’m not trying to define the whole of the collaborative ways of working space, just the basic elements of what is coworking.

Jacob, I agree that the motivation and experience have a huge impact on the personality of the space and the kind of clients it will keep, but still: don’t you think we can figure out a minimal set of factors that identify a space as a coworking space?

Chad, you are right about community, it is a really identifying factor. There are looser and closely knit communities. How would you define it from the outside and not from the feelings of the members?

[email protected] Yes, they are members of a community, but also our clients. Not just clients, but still clients. We owe them a service for their money, and we engage in a contract with them for this.

Jeanine, thanks :slight_smile: You are very right in the international differences and even within a city. In our experience the word love creates the wrong image of being more like a commune. We say friendly, but not friends: the attitude we know, we can not assure that one particular person is going to make friends and most are not looking for that, in fact it turns them away.

What Regus calls coworking is just an open space, and an open space is not coworking, although coworking spaces do have open spaces. Their clients, like most clients of business centers, are not looking to be part of a community, except maybe a community of status-quo/club-house. We (Stefania, Sara, and I) consider ourselves also members of our coworking community, we are betacoworkers too, but we do have a special role and responsabilities.

When I wrote The Coworking Handbook, I dedicated part of the intro to talk about different kinds of collaborative working spaces. Not being a coworking space is not an issue, it is OK. Being a coworking is not just using a name like if we were wearing a purse of Louis Vuitton. I think the text contains a lot of interesting elements, but it is too long. Here’s the original text:

The defining characteristics of coworking spaces are their facilitators and their

community of coworkers. Coworking spaces are created for the community and with

the community in mind. It is not just a real estate business in which a physical space is

rented: the role of the facilitator (or host, concierge, community leader, or any other

title you want to use) is to enhance the connections and interactions of the coworkers to

bring them value and to actively accelerate serendipity. It is a network, not just a place.

It is not enough to put a bunch of people together in a room: you must work hard to

create the right interactions that form a sense of community.

What is this thing about accelerating serendipity? What is serendipity and how can you

accelerate it? Serendipity is the chance discovery of something good or useful that you

were not looking for.

For example: you are talking with the person right next to you at the gym about a sport.

You are there just to exercise, but you end up in this conversation without seeking it.

You then end up talking about your startup project and that person gets you in touch

with a friend who can become your first client. You did not know that this person was

connected to that prospect, it just came up in conversation. You just won a new

prospect and the other person has connected his or her friend to a possible business

contact.

Serendipity—being an accident, something that happens out of chance—cannot be

organized like a recipe or a computer script, but if we set up a framework of actions,

processes, and reflexes, this will help us increase the chances of it. We can create the

right ambiance, attitude and systems to make it happen more often.

But not everything can rely on chance and serendipity. The coworking space managers

know their community best and have more connections, and they are always learning

from them. It is part of their job to help connect people, to build trust, and to reduce

friction (to make it easier to connect), so that more exchanges can happen more easily.

They are the ones that will value the needs and personality of the coworkers to suggest

the best matches.

The focus of coworking is on its community, so spaces come in all shapes and sizes:

workers in only one industry, many industries, fixed desks, shared desks, pre­approval

of members, direct sign­up, temporary pop­up coworking spaces, more trendy­,

industrial­, or business­oriented spaces… The design of the space is not so important—

what matters are the people who populate it and their interactions. This is what makes

or breaks a coworking space.

You will find the word “coworking” used for many different kinds of spaces, but don’t

be mistaken: many of them offer nothing more than shared desks (formerly known as

hot­desks, open spaces, and flex­desks) and treat the coworkers as a second­class

client. An open space is just that: an open space. It is a configuration of a room, it does

not imply anything else.

To know if you are in a real coworking space or not, check if the operators of the space

do something to accelerate and dynamize the community. Coworking is a verb, it

implies action from the coworking operators to build a community. If all they offer is

shared secretarial services, they are not a coworking space.

The part I like the most is that coworking is a verb and requires action to happen, it is not just a space. The part I don’t like is that is too convoluted and long.

One of the things I’m glad to see is that when we talk coworking not only the people at Betacowork end up discussing food :wink:

On Friday, September 12, 2014 1:15:23 PM UTC+2, Alex Hillman wrote:

In my opinion a coworking space – being a community of coworkers – always calls and treats its coworkers members.


I like this one a lot!!

-Alex

Great discussion and I really like the restaurant analogy. We use the following criteria to identify a space as a coworking space:

  • self-identifies as providing coworking space or uses language close to this.

  • offers a range of membership options such as daily, weekly, monthly, etc. (does not need to offer them all)

  • offers facilities broadly consistent with other coworking spaces including some form of community space

  • offers open membership, or membership available via a process that is open

  • offers activities that encourage community with the word “activities” being broadly defined

  • coworking is an important part of the facility offering

  • is actively in use.

There is a fair amount of subjectivity in these and we’ve found identifying coworking facilities is a bit like identifying pornography - you know when you see it, but different people see it in different ways. But overall they’ve worked well for us.

Interestingly enough, they’ve worked well not because they identify what coworking is, but because in combination they’re pretty good at identifying what coworking is not. For example, many startup accelerators more or less look like Parisoma coworking in terms of look, feel, activities and membership demographics. But the accelerators tend to have some combination of a closed membership process and/or limited or no membership options.

The prolific Ray Lindenberg (where does he find the time to produce so much content?) has been publishing a lot on segmenting and defining different aspects of the office as a service market over at the GWA LinkedIn group and elsewhere. He’s doing this from the office business center point of view, but it’s been quite interesting and is well worth looking at.

Glad you mentioned Ray’s recent posts. This one was truly fantastic, full of gold.

https://www.linkedin.com/groups/Community-Collaboration-Traps-Plus-Debunking-1954077.S.5915187168640262147?view=&item=5915187168640262147&type=member&gid=1954077&trk=eml-group_discussion_new_comment-discussion-title-link&midToken=AQENnkOIKC9ejA&fromEmail=fromEmail&ut=3_EA13phjrLmo1

-Alex

···

On Sat, Sep 13, 2014 at 1:30 PM, Steve King [email protected] wrote:

Great discussion and I really like the restaurant analogy. We use the following criteria to identify a space as a coworking space:

  • self-identifies as providing coworking space or uses language close to this.
  • offers a range of membership options such as daily, weekly, monthly, etc. (does not need to offer them all)
  • offers facilities broadly consistent with other coworking spaces including some form of community space
  • offers open membership, or membership available via a process that is open
  • offers activities that encourage community with the word “activities” being broadly defined
  • coworking is an important part of the facility offering
  • is actively in use.

There is a fair amount of subjectivity in these and we’ve found identifying coworking facilities is a bit like identifying pornography - you know when you see it, but different people see it in different ways. But overall they’ve worked well for us.

Interestingly enough, they’ve worked well not because they identify what coworking is, but because in combination they’re pretty good at identifying what coworking is not. For example, many startup accelerators more or less look like Parisoma coworking in terms of look, feel, activities and membership demographics. But the accelerators tend to have some combination of a closed membership process and/or limited or no membership options.

The prolific Ray Lindenberg (where does he find the time to produce so much content?) has been publishing a lot on segmenting and defining different aspects of the office as a service market over at the GWA LinkedIn group and elsewhere. He’s doing this from the office business center point of view, but it’s been quite interesting and is well worth looking at.

Visit this forum on the web at http://discuss.coworking.com


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I recently asked the members of Les Satellites “What makes a good coworking space ?”. I received different answers, none of them put the “space” as a criteria.

I’ve realized that members are the best to define what coworking is and what coworking is not, even though they only know a few coworking spaces, if not only one. I wrote something here (http://www.les-satellites.com/2014/09/les-personnes-qui-font-du-coworking-ne.html) explaining why members of coworking spaces are not interested by the space criteria (in French).

If you can include, Ramon, the members’ - your members’ - viewpoints on the definition of coworking you wish to show, you’ll be better off - we’ll all be better off.

Nicolas Bergé

Les Satellites

That would be a good start. Seems to me that a survey across a broader spectrum that includes people not in your space. Otherwise it would be like surveying patrons in a burger joint what makes a restaurant, which they might say “fries!”, but if in a sushi restaurant, “fresh fish!”

Basically, your members join your space for what your space is about or seems to focus on.

Jerome

www.BLANKSPACES.com

···

On Sep 14, 2014, at 10:45 AM, Nicolas Bergé [email protected] wrote:

I recently asked the members of Les Satellites “What makes a good coworking space ?”. I received different answers, none of them put the “space” as a criteria.

I’ve realized that members are the best to define what coworking is and what coworking is not, even though they only know a few coworking spaces, if not only one. I wrote something here (http://www.les-satellites.com/2014/09/les-personnes-qui-font-du-coworking-ne.html) explaining why members of coworking spaces are not interested by the space criteria (in French).

If you can include, Ramon, the members’ - your members’ - viewpoints on the definition of coworking you wish to show, you’ll be better off - we’ll all be better off.

Nicolas Bergé

Les Satellites

Visit this forum on the web at http://discuss.coworking.com


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Steve, what do you mean by "open" vs "closed"? Is an application form with "fill out your info and maybe we'll let you work here if we think you're a good fit based on our criteria which we can't/don't publicly disclose" closed? I would hope so.

I think this whole thread is fascinating.

Jeannine, "members" has a similar implication in the U.S., but business democracies/cooperatives are not as common or enforced here as in some European countries.

Alex

···

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