A common “original” idea among new coworking space owners (and an idea I’m sure that has been pitched to you repeatedly if you’ve owned a coworking space for a while) is that there should be some system for a kind of bottom up project collaboration. The idea generally goes something like this: We’ve got all this talent with great freelancers doing complementary work and often looking for more work: Wouldn’t it be a win-win if we could take project requests like Upwork and make bids as a coworking space (or as a network of coworking spaces), bringing value to our members and taking some commission for the space (or otherwise bringing added income/value to the coworking space or network).
Inevitably, in my experience, it doesn’t get far past the planning stage, or an unsuccessful implementation, mainly because there’s a clear conflict of interest between the mandate to provide a great place to work and the mandate to do a good job on a complex project. Once you have to pick favorite coworkers, or fire underperformers from a project, you also deal with unhappy members, and the kind of inter-office competition that I love does NOT exist at coworking spaces. As well as the nightmare of running a completely different kind of business. Alternatively, if you want to move it to a wider network beyond an individual coworking space, there’s no added value to the consumer, IMO, over using existing established portals (like Upwork). The service seekers don’t care if their freelancers work at some coworking space if it’s not theirs. They just want the best freelancer for the job.
So, with that long introduction: Do any of you know of good examples where coworking spaces have been able to to pool the talent of their spaces to do great projects together in a somewhat systematic (i.e., planned/organized way; rather than one-off examples where members ended up doing projects together, which I know happens all the time).
While I remain someone pessimistic about the viability of this kind of project, I’d love to hear creative solutions that have worked!
Founder & CEO
Prague, Czech Republic