Experimental Coworking with Temporary Exchange Programs
Deskmag introduces four temporary exchange programs that were started in recent years, as a way to give you a feel for exciting new opportunities in the coworking movement.
1. Startup Exchange Program – The exchange program for startups
A mentor driven exchange program that is designed to scale-up startups, the Startup Exchange Program started by Ines Santos Silva, an entrepreneur from Portugal, aims to select the most resourceful, creative, and disruptive startups to move to a European tech hub for 4 to 6 weeks. Already in its second year, the program that started on April 29 and ended on June 15 of this year, it is currently supported by local incubators and coworking spaces.
Nine coworking spaces/incubators in different locations around Europe were sourced with these requirements: the places have to be in cities that would be interesting for startups and partners have to be a good source of help for the startups they are going to host.
“For the participating spaces, this is a chance to be part of a global network, to host startups from different geographies that bring new knowledge and experience to the space,” said Silvia.
The spaces then provide free working space, access to the local startup ecosystem and potential partners. They also support the startups in any way possible. “It's a very informal program with only one goal in mind: to help the participating startups in every possible way,” continued Silva.
As for the selected startups, they will have a chance to explore a local economy where companies will take their technology to market and bridge connections with corporations, startups, venture capitalists, and serial entrepreneurs. They will have the chance to be mentored by eight world-class serial entrepreneurs and innovators.
2. Coworking Summer: A summer bountiful with coworking choices
At Coworking 0711 in Stuttgart, summer in Germany is about coworking! Coworking Summer, started in 2011 by Harald Amelung, who is also charge of Coworking0711, is a campaign that allows participating spaces to launch special events and programs for a month.
Amelung explained, “During the summer we always see a decrease of usage, people go on holidays and the space feels a bit empty. So we came up with the idea that maybe the travelling coworkers want to have the chance to work somewhere else and so created the summer ticket, which was valid for five spaces (5 days, 5 spaces, 50 Euros).”
However, the organizers recognized that no one was really travelling around, and people were mainly using the summer ticket at their local space, because it was a good offer with some discount to the normal prices.
In 2012, the program changed to one where individual spaces create offers by themselves, but still have the centralized marketing website and related things, since the original exchange envisioned didn’t work as well. It kicked off on August 1, with ten German coworking spaces that included Combinat 56 (Munich), Cowo 21 (Darmstadt) and Coworking 0711(Stuttgart), launching special offers and events for one month, providing an opportunity to introduce coworking and members to new faces.
This year, Coworking Summer has a different aim. Amelung told Deskmag, “We do not offer the shared ticket for travelers anymore, but any space which is in the campaign can create a special offer for August, like a discount, special activities or another gimmick. We hope to gain more visibility with the centralized website, so people see that there are coworking facilities and communities all over Germany.”
He also added, “We are just starting the preparation. If someone wants to be part of it, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org”
3. Toronto Passport - Designed for new coworkers
The Toronto Passport, which was started in 2011 as a trial program that lasted for 9 months, is a discovery tool for those new to or interested in coworking. It allows individuals a chance to try out different spaces under one passport, and maybe even find one to settle in for a membership.
The Passport gave visitors one free day at the participating spaces (which included Foundery, Locus Quo and Coworkative) listed on the Passport. Visitors paid in advance at a cost of $75 if buying it at a participating space (or $82 if you wanted it mailed out).
“Being the first time we launched this passport option, we wanted to see how it went before committing to a longer term,” said Ashley Proctor, founder of Foundery
She told Deskmag that it has proven to be a success. “We had many new visitors to Foundery using the Passport. It also helped to generate some funds for the CoworkingToronto collective (none of the spaces were paid directly),” continued Proctor. On the part of users, she has gotten much positive feedback about the Foundery, and has been frequently asked if they were planning to launch another program like the Passport since the first one ended.
“I was told by our visitors that they were excited to explore the city in a completely unique way and that they were glad the passport was transferable so once they found a space they liked, they could give the remaining passport to a friend to complete. Many of our guests were international visitors, looking for an authentic travel/work experience in Toronto.”
Due to such great response, there is a very high chance that another such program will come very soon in the future.
Proctor continued, “We have plans to make the Passport Program a permanent feature of the collective - the only reason we haven't yet is money and time (in terms of coordination and marketing materials). We are also considering utilizing an app rather than a physical printed passport like we had in the trial program.”
4. Exchange Between Betahaus Berlin and Utopicus Madrid: Let’s exchange coworkers!
Fancy travelling between Berlin and Madrid or Berlin and Copenhagen with ease, knowing you’ll always have a coworking host in those cities that will welcome you with open arms and coworkers to exchange skill-sets with?
In the fall 2012, Betahaus Berlin had an exchange program with Utopicus where coworkers from Madrid worked ten days at Betahaus Berlin and found their perfect coworker match to start new projects or continue with on actual tasks.
Madeleine von Mohl, founder of Betahaus Berlin, said about the program, “Some of the coworkers worked on projects together and others just had some fun and partied a lot! They all love it and stayed in contact after that!”
Due to its success, Mohl told Deskmag that another exchange is in the pipeline. “We are planning another exchange between Berlin and Barcelona now, and hope to have it set up before the year ends.”
Presently, Betahaus Berlin also has an ongoing program with which every Republikken (a coworking space in Copenhagen) member and Utopicus (a coworking space in Madrid) member can work two days at Betahaus and vice versa.
5. Workation, Sunny Office, and more!
Now that the summer is really kicking off, there are more and more programs that stem from similar ideas like the coworking visa or temporary exchange programs. For example, there is the Sunny Office exchange in Spain, which just took place in May, and the Workation coming up this July in Switzerland. Both programs aim to give hard working coworkers the chance to combine a much-needed vacation and the chance to be productive. Deskmag will be giving you a more in depth article about these programs next week.
For those who are in Berlin, Betahaus and the Agora Collective are offering their Summercard, which gives you access to a flexible desk in both coworking spaces.
Mutinerie in Paris is also offering a chance for their staff members to visit different coworking spaces, so if you are looking for a way to make your people happy, send them on a little summer coworking exchange