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The Coworking Visa is prized for its flexibility, allowing coworkers to move between coworking spaces around the world with ease. Based on geniality and mutual understanding between spaces, the visa seems like a wonderful way to maximize the mobility that many coworkers treasure. However, can this flexibility and mobility be stretched too far and suddenly a blessing becomes a curse? CoPass and LEXC are two organized coworking programs that build upon the Coworking Visa - and also let you decide for yourself.
By Christina Ng - Monday, 03 June 2013

For Eric van den Broek, cofounder of Mutinerie Coworking in Paris, the Coworking Visa does not cover every base, which makes coworkers with more specific needs longing for more. Van den Broek told Deskmag, “I think that the Coworking Visa is a great idea and it proves that coworking spaces are willing to cooperate. However, it needs to be a bit more organized.”

Emergence of CoPass

Thus, there is CoPass, which shares the same vision as the Coworking Visa in terms of collaborative and mobile coworking. The idea is based on a network of global collaborative spaces and also offers two different versions - a free and premium option and also a group feature.

“The free version would be a better organized version of the Coworking Visa, enriched with social functionalities and a better data visualization. The premium version is a card on which you can buy credit that you can then use in any space of the network at a discount, whereas the group feature enables groups of people to tap into this same credit,” said Van den Broek.

He also added that CoPass would eventually have social features that CoPassers can use to get in touch and also share online.

CoPass: A More Mobile and Collaborative Lifestyle

Founded almost two years ago and progressively tweaked, the idea of CoPass came about during a coworking conference in Berlin, when Van den Broek met Stefano Borghi of Cowo360 in Rome. They mused over the possibility of being able to work from anywhere and also the ability to find cool folks looking to collaborate. Thus, the skeletal framework of CoPass was realized. However, it was only until three months ago that the two seriously dedicated themselves to the idea, and CoPass is now in the process of becoming a reality.

Van den Broek explained, “Now that our spaces start to be more autonomous, it's time for us to go to the next step: connecting the spaces to make mobility even easier and to propose a completely new lifestyle.” He continued by saying, “We want CoPass to become a central platform for people and groups of people aiming for a more mobile and collaborative lifestyle.” 

How CoPass Works

To ensure that this mobility and collaboration comes with more structure, these are some of the ways that CoPass is implemented:

CoPass is designed for frequent use, whether the person is a permanent member of a space or not. CoPass works in the same city and members can use it on a daily basis to switch between space A and B. It also enables groups of people to work in different coworking spaces with one single account, and offers community oriented services. For instance, CoPassers will be able to know which other CoPassers work and in what space, as a way to facilitate connection. If needed, they could even crash at a fellow CoPassers’ home. Spaces that host with CoPass receive a compensation for the services that they offer.

“We will also ask CoPassers to let us know when they want to go somewhere where there is no space yet. Then we identify a cool space, contact him and add him to the network. We don't aim as much for quantity as we do for quality of spaces and local communities. We want CoPassers to have great experiences compassing,” reiterated Van den Broek.

LEXC – League of Extraordinary Coworking Spaces

At the other end of the world, in the United States, another coworking program called the LEXC – League of Extraordinary Coworking Spaces shares some similar functions and values as CoPass – especially in the way that they value mobility and quality.

Since the idea sprung forth at a coworking conference in 2011, LEXC now has six venues in the US that include Nextspace in San Francisco, Blankspaces in Los Angeles and Link Coworking in Austin. The founding spaces all cater to corporate users, and share the same goal of wanting to set up a national organization where members can use other spaces through this organization. With this in mind, LEXC wants to team up with coworking spaces that execute in similar ways. At the moment, LEXC has 24 participating spaces around the US and continues to grow, with plans to go global in the future.

Jerome Chang, secretary of LEXC said, “We have applicants from Brazil, Australia and Canada already. We want to go global at some point, but we want to make sure that our home front works first.”

How LEXC Works

Claimed to be the world's first coworking loyalty program, LEXC brands itself as a unique network of coworking spaces with a common standard of excellence.

This is how it works: as members of any LEXC venue, you can enjoy trusted access and full privileges at any other venue in the network. If you are a member of one LEXC venue, you are now a member of all LEXC venues. The concept also builds upon the Coworking Visa but in Chang’s opinion, the Visa may be well intentioned, but “it varies from location to location even though it is international.”

“LEXC wants to make sure that there is consistency - we want to be one single voice for coworking, a representative voice for all the spaces under it,” he continued by saying that “The Coworking Visa is usually for three visits, but our concept focuses on building awareness. We want to become the first space that people approach when they want to know about coworking and what coworking can do.” 

 The Loopholes of the Visa

The Coworking Visa, which was introduced in 2011, encompasses a more freewheeling approach. It allows active members of one space to use other coworking spaces around the world for free or usually three days, but terms vary from space to space. This has sometimes caused confusion for coworkers and the associate coworking spaces.

Broek, also added, “Using the Visa can be a bit messy today. Some of our coworkers we sent abroad were welcome by a terrible "what's the coworking visa?”

This lack of knowledge of the Visa is also shown in Deskmag’s 3rd Global Coworking Survey in 2012/2013. According to the survey, 48% of the people who work at more than one coworking space only are not using the visa because they don’t know what it is, and 7% thinks that it is too complicated.

This is where programs like CoPass and LEXC come in, with a set of requirements and structure, which may make the process easier and more accessible.

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