5 Questions With

5 Questions with Johanna Voll

Sam Bender
Dec 14, 2021
5 Questions with Johanna Voll

Hi Johanna, thanks for taking the time to chat with me. Can you tell me a little bit about yourself and some of the projects you’re involved in?

I’d say anything coworking related keeps my energy levels high. I have fallen in love with coworking spaces, but especially the people in the global movement more than 12 years ago and keep exploring new aspects of it. I am fortunate to do that in several positions that are all linked, but touch different aspects of supporting and building communities. I am a connector and love bringing people together. That’s been a bit challenging in times of social distancing and so many postponed events.

What keeps me sane is the volunteer work I do in my hometown Halle, where we are restoring an old brewery in the heart of town with an association. That includes a lot of fundraising and writing grant applications, but we actually do the building on the construction site partly ourselves. That’s always fun and as expected, brewing our own beer is part of it. And of course, a coworking space is moving in as well once the whole complex with several buildings is restored to its former beauty.

Over the summer you were appointed to the board of the German Coworking Federation (GCF). First of all: Congratulations! Second: What kind of opportunities will this new role allow you to explore?

There is a short answer as well as a longer one to this question. The board role of the GCF itself is just a fancy title and important in terms of liability and legal representation of the German Coworking Federation. We get to deal with all the things that need to be done to keep the lights on and bills paid. It’s really rather administrative and I am happy to share it with a great team.

The actual work and impact happens in several working groups within our holacratic organization that we have restructured through a change process. Within each role several coworking enthusiasts take over responsibilities and check back in regular tacticals with the team. We are still adapting our processes, learning new things and it’s been great fun to explore this new organizational form.

Within that structure I am part of the organizational team for our biweekly (virtual) networking events we host together with Coworkland. I also lead the diversity role in which I am the contact person to the international Coworking IDEA Project. Lastly, I love getting into anything that has to do with coworking research within my third role within the GCF. As one of the co-founders of the Coworking Library and my research background as a sociologist, this is a topic dear to my heart.

You recently became the Global Head of Operations at included.co. What excites you about this new role?

At included.co I get to support coworking and entrepreneurial communities on a global scale. Which has been exciting and involved learning many new things. I must say my BA degree in Intercultural Studies actually came in handy when I took over the day-to-day operations. And after a little while, I can say that my initial love for coworking has been multiplied by the work I do. I get to meet so many people from our coworking world daily. Even though it’s mostly virtually these days, I feel connected to the world from my small home office. In challenging times like the current ones, this has become very important to me and others. I cherish that I get to foster meaningful connections - personally and through the technology that included.co offers business communities worldwide.

I saw you published an article on rural coworking for the Bertelsmann Stiftung. Can you tell us about this project and your findings?

I was originally approached by the Bertelsmann Stiftung to help put together a two day online event for thought leaders in rural coworking in Europe. After that event we decided the results are super valuable and created a free ebook with the outcomes of our workshops and discussions. There is still a lot to be explored about the status quo of rural and peripheral coworking and I am excited to be part of that conversation.

We will continue that process within the European Rural Coworking Project by the European Coworking Assembly and hope to gather many more experts there.

You’re currently seeking input from coworking space operators for Deskmag. What data are you hoping to get and how will it be used?

I cherish the work that Deskmag has been doing for more than a decade now with the Global Coworking Survey. It has been the most recited source of coworking statistics and the base for countless research projects. They have just launched the new Coworking Trends survey with a focus on the current business situation of coworking spaces worldwide.

The survey will run until the end of the year. But ideally, we catch operators before the well deserved holiday break. The final results will be summarized in a free Deskmag article and PDF report.

I believe with the current development of the pandemic there is a lot of uncertainty what this means for our industry. That’s why the Business Trends survey is pretty short and exclusively for operators. The Global Coworking Survey however, will return in early 2022 with a wider set of questions.

Thank you so much for speaking with me! Where can readers find you and your work online?

I am super grateful to be part of this movement and the impact we have on fostering strong communities which is now more important than ever. You can follow my work on my personal website, linkedin or through the projects mentioned in the interview and reach out for anything related to coworking and beyond.

Sam Bender

Senior Communications Specialist at Cobot and all-around connoisseur of useless trivia, reading on airplanes, sleeping in late - and working from interesting places!