Seeing coworking as being more than a business model where individuals bring out the best in themselves, is what connects virtually all of the coworking activists that were interviewed. They also don’t just want the best possible conditions for their members. With coworking, they want to develop better working environments that benefit both individuals and the companies for whom they work alike.
Learning from one another and having a good time
For Eric from La Mutinerie in Paris, it is “very important that we keep a local and sharing spirit in each coworking community. There is a chance that coworking could turn into a kind of "industry", as it has proven to meet a strong demand. The real value of coworking relies in on collaboration, openness, community and accessibility. It should not just be seen as a business. Local coworking communities definitely have to connect to each other in order to offer the greatest value to their members.
Also, coworking spaces should put the emphasis on casual and informal events. It's all about having a good time with other folks and learning from each other. It would be very disappointing to reduce coworking spaces to desk-renting facilities.”
Everyone should be able to work in a coworking space
In the future, Alex Hillman from the Indyhall in Philadelphia would like to “not be answering the same questions about getting started. I'd like people to be doing inspirational things in and with coworking around the world. I'd like coworking spaces that are opening knowing why they want to open before they even open. I want to see member->coworking community loyalty emerge like people have towards their hometowns, schools, sports teams, etc.
My hope isn't that everybody works from a coworking space, but instead that anybody could if they chose to. I'm also hoping for long-term impact. We've only scratched the surface of what coworking has benefited and will help us unlock for ourselves.
I don't think that the CEO of a Fortune100 company will work from a coworking space - at least not the way we think of it today. What I do think will happen, given as little as 5 years but likely more like 10-15, is that the CEO of a Fortune100 company that worked from a great coworking space early in his/her career is now running that Fortune100 with the lessons and experiences he/she learned about how work can be done while working from a great coworking space. I think that'd be a fundamentally different place to work. A fundamentally better place to work. That's the long-term impact of coworking that I'm interested in, and why I'm so protective of the core values of coworking.”
More coworking spaces in rural areas
To this point, most coworking spaces have emerged in large cities because they have an especially high concentration of creative individuals. For Beth Buczinsky from Gone Coworking, it would be particularly satisfying if coworking spaces could be also found more often in smaller cities: “This will happen because the workforce will continue to become decentralized. Even for big companies, the idea of a central office is becoming more impractical by the day. These ‘rural’ coworking spaces will be useful to people working in new industries that we might not immediately associate with coworking today, i.e. farmers, doctors and remote employees of big companies.”
More room for small and alternative models
Alexander Lang from co.up Berlin wants a “diversified coworking culture” in which small coworking spaces that occupy niches can peacefully coexist alongside “mainstream spaces”. A larger portion of the population should have the opportunity to use coworking spaces, “including employees” from large companies who, as coworkers, “can quickly and easily find and book a space online”, regardless of what corner of the world they find themselves in.
Anni Roolf, organizer of the European Jellyweek, is calling for more room for innovative models that are orientated to work and life realities. For coworkers that have children, “the spaces should also, for example, more often be set up to provide child care.” She wants to develop coworking spaces with added social values. Araceli Carmargo, from London's Cube, also wants development impulses that go far beyond coworking spaces: “I would like to guide our spaces into setting the building blocks for generating a better economy.”
Related article: The future of coworking and its spaces