Category: Business

Definition of Coworking

Coworking is the act of engaging a community of freelancers, entrepreneurs, remote workers and small businesses in a shared space with the purpose of working and helping each other out professionally and personally through the creation and activation of relationships.

Coworking requires that the operators of coworking spaces actively create opportunities for and engage the coworkers to get to know and help each other.

The people doing it are the facilitators of coworking spaces (although they can be known under multiple names). They facilitate the introductions, point to who can help, etc.

Without the development of links among the coworkers there’s no community and there’s no coworking.

Coworking also refers to the act of working in a coworking space. In some regions it is used as shorthand for coworking space. When companies say they do coworking they are referring to the fact that they have a coworking space.

Without an engaged community you do not have a coworking space. You may have a collection of people in a shared working space but not a coworking space.

These are the mandatory elements to identify 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.

The original elements I included as President of the European Coworking Assembly (abandoned after I left) that were included in the Coworking is Dead article. I advanced this elements in the coworking community group (where the last one was added) before using them as founding principles of the European Coworking Assembly and the nascent Belgian association of coworking spaces (with the approval of the members of both).

Think of them as the eight commandments of coworking.

Coworking is not written with a hyphen. Co-working is wrong when used in this context and should be preserved to refer to people working for the same company (co-workers) as I requested to the AP and they included in the AP Style Book.

Note that AP’s definition does not include a word about community.

There are plenty of other collaborative and shared work spaces and there’s nothing wrong with them, but if they are not doing coworking with its community aspect, they should not refer to themselves as coworking spaces.

You may also want to take a look at the advantages of coworking and its disadvantages.

If you want to open a coworking space or you are struggling with one, you will benefit from reading The Coworking Handbook.

I’ve sold Betacowork and it is great for its coworking future

New and old owners of Betacowork Coworking Brussels

Erik, Toon, Ramon & Eric

Last week I closed the deal to sell Betacowork to three of its coworkers: Toon Vanagt, Eric Rodriguez and Erik de Herdt.  This is great news for me, but it is also for Betacowork and its community of coworkers. I love coworking but I don’t want to manage a coworking space any more. I want to be just a coworker and move on with new businesses and learning.

Ever since I decided to sell Betacowork I’ve been trying to find the best solution for the business and the community . I first tried to create a cooperative with the members so that they would take over, but it did not work. Then I started contacting some members and coworking entrepreneurs that I thought could be a good match: interested in coworking and Betacowork, understanding coworking, looking forward to the benefits of acquiring a profitable business and to take it forward.

I could not have thought of a better match than the three coworkers that have taken over. They’ve been members since the early times of Betacowork, they’ve launched their companies here, they’ve found each other and some of their employees at Betacowork… We have mixed DNA! And all this without counting all the time that Toon Vanagt has spent being my counselor, bouncing ideas back, and helping me out.

Another page of the book of my life has turned over, and this gives me great relief. I’m still part of coworking, I just don’t own a space any more. The next things to do are relaxing, learning (mostly programming), and getting my motivation and energy up to launch new businesses and projects.

In the last six years I’ve managed to create an amazing place to work and to bring together an extraordinary community. I will do all my new stuff while working from Betacowork: it is the best place on earth to work from. Why would I go anywhere else or, much worst, stay at home?

Repository of Helpful Coworking Links

Jim Carey typing like a mad man gif

I got tired of looking for links in my bookmarks and with Google and not having a central repository. I know that there are a lot of people having the same issues, so I decided to create and maintain these lists of coworking resources:

The link to the “list of lists” with these lists and all that may be included in the future is: http://coworkinghandbook.com/resources/

They have a lot of good links and references in them, but they are not perfect. If there’s anything that you think should be included please let me know :) If you think that they are useful, share them !

Coworking Business Model Canvas

The business model of coworking

The business model of coworking is not that complicated, in fact we will even provide it to you right away. Keep in mind however that you are the master of your business and you will decide to put the accent on one part or the other, which will change the outcome and rationale, and also your actions.

A business model is the representation of the structure of your business, taking into consideration your clients and products or services. It comprises the fundamentals of your business and the reasoning for them. It is a tool to help you understand your business and the relationships among key elements of it.

Here’s our proposal for a coworking business model canvas, following Alexander Osterwalder and Yves Pigneur’s Business Model Generation book and canvas:

Key Partners

  • Internet Service Provider

  • Landlord

  • Investors/bankers

  • Influencers

Key Activities

  • Introductions and facilitation

  • Community building

Value Proposition

  • Professional environment and network

  • Increased productivity

  • Life work balance

  • Flexibility

  • Cost efficiency

Customer Relationships

  • Facilitation & Networking

  • Community

  • Face to face

  • Online

Customer Segments

  • Freelance professionals

  • Entrepreneurs

  • Teleworkers

Key Resources

  • Good Internet connection

  • Professional premises

  • Meeting room

Channels

  • Website

  • Events

  • Social Media

  • Email

  • PR

Cost Structure

  • Rental

  • Utilities

  • Personnel

  • Marketing

  • Maintenance

  • Legal

Revenue Streams

  • Coworking plans (flexible or fixed)

  • Events

  • Meeting rooms

What would you change? What is missing?

If you make your own canvas, share it with everybody in the comments. You can do the same part of the business as we did here or concentrate in other aspects, like events or services.

PS: the table is so big and our knowledge of html so small that we had to remove the sidebar in this post.