It was a bit of a last minute decision last year that I booked my tickets to CoworkingNow, the Coworking (Un)Conference of Poland in Gdansk. It was well worth the time, effort and travel money spent.
Was it “just another (un)coworking conference” ?
If you look and judge purely based on the format, flow and the agenda, Indeed it was!
This is not a surprise though as the coworking conferences are becoming a popular event, and every country/region has started to hold one of their own. And I think this is a super smart move, and a well-needed one to hold local conferences.
Every coworking space is unique. Every country has their local taste and touch on coworking, driven by the state of business, the culture and people’s expectations. This is what my visits to over 250 coworking spaces in Europe and Asia in last 3 years have taught without exception. So, indeed, we should have more of these conferences, and that the O4 team and their partners are hitting the stage again with the CoworkingNow, 3rd edition, is super exciting and a good reason to return to the beautiful city of Gdansk.
Last year, it was 20 speakers from around the world, having attracted around 100 participants for 2 days.
This year, I am seeing there will be even more experience on the stage, and sensing from the buzz on social media, I am feeling I will be meeting many more coworking enthusiasts.
I recall few food-for-thought from last year from the speakers:
- You need a good partner when setting up your coworking space, and not necessarily a big financial investor. It was Mike LaRosa, highlighting this, that “there may very well be conflicts on vision and expectations with you and your investor. While the investor will help your business with an injection of cash, he will in return set high expectations for profit! Whereas a good partner-in-crime will have a bigger support on your journey to create the coworking space of your dreams”
- Coworking is not an office, coffee, wifi – coworking is PEOPLE who want to connect and create businesses together. (Claire Carpenter). It’s all about the communities. While I think it is fine to just open an office and rent out those desks to independent professionals or companies, it is a different business, and not coworking.
- Stand out or die! Pauline Roussel of Coworkies, confirmed the diversity of coworking spaces is rather our biggest strength, and we need to continue to build on this. Keep creating coworking spaces that are unique in style and unique in their communities.
- There is more men in Polish coworking spaces than women. Based on O4 Coworking’s survey on Polish coworking ecosystem, 66% of coworkers indicated that there are less than 30% of women in their coworking! — There is absolutely room for improvement in diversity. It’s well-known and proven fact that diversity makes us more creative and successful.
- Don’t buy software before you fix your basics. This was more me endorsing it. You need to fix your basics first before trying to automate stuff. Otherwise you just amplify the problem. This is true not only for management software, but for your social media accounts and website too. First, identify whom you want to address, who is your target audience, where they are, which social media channels are they using primarily? then identify what you want to tell to them, and where you talk to them. Do not just go and open an social media account on every possible channel unless you have a plan.
And few personal observations, including some thoughts why this year’s Coworking Poland conference is a must-visit:
- Coworking scene in Poland, especially in Warsaw is booming. There are 140+ reported coworking spaces only in Warsaw per our research in Cowork7/24 — are all these “coworking coworking” or more serviced-offices? I personally think a bit of both, but it doesn’t matter much. There is a huge growth in Poland that makes a Poland coworking conference stand out among others.
- The appetite for coworking businesses is growing. We see many global/big players are entering the Poland market, and some Polish-origin coworking spaces are planning to expand geographically. This is just great for the total scene.
- Such a growth in supply comes with a risk of “empty coworking spaces”. Indeed, I confirmed this ugly truth in some of my personal visits to Warsaw coworking spaces. I am hoping and expecting this will change to the positive, and such conferences are great enablers to spread the word and love on coworking.
- Are small/local/boutique coworking spaces under threat? Absolutely not? Or maybe? I think those who are acting with a mind-set of uniqueness, community and collaboration will benefit and grow more in this very competitive Poland coworking ecosystem.
- Coworking Spaces will attract and create their own start-up scene. Expect to have new local start-ups that aim to serve coworking spaces, and expect to see more international start-ups, like ours, Cowork7/24, entering the Poland market!
I just can’t wait to go back to Gdansk and meet once more with the Polish coworking enthusiasts, entrepreneurs, entrepreneur-to-bes and thought-leaders! Humbly, I will be sharing my personal experience on “Why People choose coworking spaces, and why one over another”
Meet you all there in Gdansk!