New Coworking Handbook PDF

If you prefer to download and use PDF documents you are in luck. I’ve just released the book in its four languages.

Use any of the links below to buy it:

Coworking Handbook (English PDF) Manuel du coworking (PDF Français) Manuel do coworking (PDF Português) Coworking Handboek (Nederlands PDF)

The book is a bestseller in paper and as a Kindle ebook. Most people buy the paper version.

Are there any other formats you need?

A Course to Grow Your Coworking Space Community

Launch offer: use code CoworkingHandbook for a 25% discount

A lot of coworking space operators have complained over the years that one of the biggest problems they have is their community. They suffer to start them, to grow them and to keep them healthy. If you are having these issues, this coworking community course is for you.

Growing and working with your community should not be a problem. It should mean work but not something to suffer through.

I’ve been involved in community building since I was a teenager and started volunteering. In my university years I worked doing public relations for night clubs and also started working in marketing and communication, doing media production, and then working in public affairs and promoting the startup scene in Brussels. All this experience helped me a lot when I decided to start my coworking space.

It Is a Skill

No, community building is not a natural trait of my personality. I was a dork at school and I’m not the most likable person in the world all of the time, but I can get over it easily and build relationships and communities.

Community building is something I’ve learned to do and so can you. You need to care and be willing to step over your personally imposed limitations, to grow.

I used my community skills to grow Betacowork and to build such an amazing community that three of its members ended buying the coworking space.

Start on Monday

Yes, the course starts on Monday (March 4) and you can get in with a discount: use the code CoworkingHandbook .

Because this is the first edition of the course I’ve slashed the pricing.

What I’ve not compromised is the content. Every weekday (yes, you get weekends off) you will get a new lesson. With these lessons you will get tasks to do in your coworking space that will already help you even before the course is finished. These lessons take into account that you already have a full time job. The course is broken up in chunks to help you do what you have to do and not waste time. In just 28 days you will be reaping the benefits of your commitment.

I Will Be Helping You

I will be participating in the course community area and also available via messaging.

Building a community is something I’ve done multiple times. Join the coworking community challenge and we will grow yours together.

Coworking Is Dead

Zombie hand coming out of the ground with the text Coworking Is Dead overwritten
Coworking raises from the dead. Beware!

Coworking is dead. I know it may sound a bit harsh and that it may lead to confusion. The practice of coworking is alive and kicking, but the name coworking has lost its sense. Anybody offering any kind of shared workspace is calling it coworking, although most of them don’t do any coworking.

From the early days of coworking there was a community focus that differentiated coworking from traditional business centers that just provided hot desking.

Let’s start with a definition of coworking that I wrote and used for the European Coworking Assembly when I was the president, and that was also approved (and ignored) by the then nascent coalition of Belgian coworking spaces.

Coworking definition

These are the elements that define a real coworking space:

  • Calls itself or the service it offers coworking.
  • Has a fully dedicated space for coworking (not just a few hours or a cafeteria shared with patrons).
  • Has an active community of members, not just clients.
  • Has at least one facilitator dedicated to connect the members and build trust among them, engaging in activities to build the coworking community.
  • Treats coworkers as 1st class clients.
  • Promotes and encourage collaboration, interaction and serendipity.
  • Offers one or many kinds of membership (full or part time).
  • Does not discriminate who can become a member or how they can participate with hidden or implicit rules.

These elements should be self evident, but they are not. I’ve seen websites of business centers that just had coworking written in white on white background, in an attempt to trick search engines. These centers did not use coworking to define their services because they saw it as a lesser offering, not worth it of the standing of their business.

Many had absolutely no interactions among the members and did not want to get involved in anything beyond having a reception. Some said that they had a community because they included it in the contract (legal WTF). When meeting these spaces they said that it was not worth it to invest effort on the community side because it was a lot of work and they did not see a clear financial link to their profits (at a time where their businesses were losing clients and contracting).

Most did not have a single person dedicated to the members beyond the reception. No connections, no event organization… Just mail, photocopies and telling visits where their meeting room was. They definitely did not do a single thing to promote any collaboration among the members. In fact for business centers this run against their core offering of a private office.

Way too many treated coworkers as second class clients, as fillers of bad space that could not be dedicated to have an office and “real” clients.

The discrimination part is trickier to evaluate, but some centers will not admit members based on personal preferences and discrimination, not on a public set of requirements.

The WeWork bullet

The beginnings of coworking spaces where mostly of ignorance, paternalization and dismissal by traditional office space providers and many professionals that did not understand the new service it was offering.

Then WeWork arrived and managed to get the word coworking in media all over the world. They managed to turn hot desking into something cool by using a modernized design and the word coworking (although from my visits I saw that their buildings are mostly focused on providing offices, even single person offices).

Me and many others fell for it too. We saw it as an opportunity to show that coworking was great and that it was a business. I shared messages in social media about their rounds and valuations as a way to promote my own space.

The death of coworking

Soon traditional business centers saw an opportunity to renew their offering just by changing the name, not by adding any value, riding the WeWork and the coworking wave.

As the word coworking became more commonplace, everybody started using it for shared offices, for bars… for anything where there was the tiniest shared space.

Many consultants wanting to become cooler towards corporations started naming their offices coworking spaces so that it would be easier to sell their innovation services and conferences, using the “coworking space” as a loss leader.

Today the word coworking is well known but it is dead. It has lost all meaning. Except it is still alive in many real coworking spaces around the world, delivering value to the coworkers and dynamizing local ecosystems and economies.

The future of coworking

Real coworking spaces have a bright future ahead of them, because they deliver value to an ever growing number of independent professionals and small entrepreneurs. Some remote/displaced employees take advantage of them too, but their numbers are much smaller. There is a lot of work to be done with less and less jobs, that is being provided by independent workers and small companies that do the job done by bigger companies not so long ago.

As long as coworking spaces focus on delivering value to the coworkers and going beyond a simple desk offering they will be able to compete and thrive. The biggest competitor of coworking spaces is still the home of the prospective coworkers, which is free. There’s no way to compete in price, the competition has to be in value.

True coworking spaces walk the walk of community, they do not just pay lip service to it.

If the clients just want a place to work, they can and will also join coworking spaces, and once they are in they will be trapped by the relationships being built and the opportunities that do not exist in other working spaces because they lack a community.

There will always be challenges, as with any business, but because there’s a fundamental value offering attached to coworking spaces they have a meaningful future as businesses.

If you want to create and grow the community side of your coworking space, I’ve created a course that will help you: the Coworking Community Challenge. Check it out and let me know what you think.

Free Coworking Community Webinar

If you want to create and grow the community side of your coworking space, I’ve created a course that will help you: the Coworking Community Challenge. It goes beyond what we discussed in this webinar and develops the practical how to. Check it out and let me know what you think.

On Thursday February 7 I will be hosting my first free webinar to answer your questions about coworking communities. I would like to focus on the community side, but please ask any question you need help with.

It will take place at 9:30am SF time, 6:30 pm Brussels time. Find out your local time here.

Countdown by

To signup and send questions, please submit the form below. Limited seats available!

Looking forward to it!

Coworking Community Course Outline Draft

I’ve started preparing my online coworking community course following the videos provided by Udemy (kudos to them, awesome onboarding experience with he Setting Your Goals and Making Your Course Outline video courses).

This is the first draft of the outline of the course. Please let me know what you would like to include in the course in the comments. All questions and ideas are welcome.

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Who is this course for?

This course is for owners or employees of coworking spaces that don’t have a community yet or are struggling with creating, growing and maintaining an active and healthy community.

Course outline

  • Intro
    What are you going to learn in this course
    What will you be Able to do at the end of the course
    Who is the instructor and why is he the best person to be teaching this course
  • Community
    Why is community important for coworking
    What is community
    The value of community
    Your role as a community manager
    Take care of yourself and of the community
    Trust, Ethics & Personality
    How community helps you get and retain more coworkers
  • Build a growing, thriving and helpful community of coworkers
    Strengthening links among coworkers & accelerating serendipity
    The power of introductions
    Introduce yourself
    Introduce others
    Be on the look for win wins
    Start your community
  • How to grow your community
    Reach out
    Get people into your space
    Events: attend, host & organize
    Events to organize in your coworking space
  • How to nurture your community and keep it healthy
    Creating and strengthening links
    How to deal with conflict
    Have more events and more attendees at their events
  • Event Organization
    How to have more events at your space with less work from you
    How to get more people to sign up to your events
    How to get the attendees to show up to your events
  • Getting and giving help
    Helpful coworkers that contribute positively to the community and to the coworking space.
    How to get help for the community
    How to get help for the coworkers
    How to get help for yourself
  • Conclusion
  • Bonus lectures

As part of the bonus lecture I’m thinking of including some tips from the leading practice specialists in the coworking world, and of course deals.

There’s also a Sales & Marketing course in the making, learn about it through the coming email updates.

PS: this course is one of the projects of my entrepreneurship challenge. Check it out, you may find inspiration for your next professional or personal challenge.