GCUC is the world’s biggest coworking (un)conference series. Of course, Cobot didn’t miss the chance to participate in their 2018 New York event — or in other words, 2 days of coworking awesomeness!
We soon ran into familiar faces: Morgan Sully, long-term Cobot user at Port Workspaces, and Angel, another avid Cobot supporter from Cohere. We always love to meet the people behind the spaces that use Cobot — nothing is more motivating than receiving real-life feedback and getting to know our supporters in person!
GCUC Is Coming To Mexico 🇲🇽
The first conference day was kicked off by GCUC founder Liz Elam, who welcomed the community with a surprise announcement: GCUC is coming to Mexico City! While the dates and the exact location are not known yet, we at Cobot already cannot wait to attend a GCUC in Mexico and meet the Latin American coworking scene.
Wellness & Health
Liz went on to discuss a challenge for every coworking space: how do you create an environment for your members that actively supports their well-being and health?
“We need to address environmental health and mental health.” — Liz Elam
Wellness, human-focused space design and mental health turned out to be key topics throughout the next two days.
“What are we doing design-wise do make our workspaces better? Let’s take it to the next level.” — Liz Elam
Health Is The New Black
How can we build better workspaces? Mark Strauss (Interior Design Media) and Karen Quintana (Technical Solutions International WELL Building Institute Works) took a deeper look at the challenge of offering healthier workplaces to our members.
“Why can’t your office be a place that is healthy?” — Karen Quintana
After hearing numerous studies on how stress, sitting and working indoors all day negatively impact our health and productivity, everybody was convinced that we can do better. And there are guidelines to help space operators get there: Karen Quintana introduced the WELL Building standard. This standard is based on 7 concepts for what you can do to improve the quality of your space: Air, Water, Nourishment, Light, Fitness, Comfort and Mind.
She shared some practical ideas, going from simple steps that every space can take — such as providing free water to prevent dehydration, or fresh fruit instead of pastries — to more advanced and innovative space architecture methods, like circadian lighting design or biophilic design.
While we’re talking about health: shoutout to the conference organizers for putting money where their mouths are and offering a healthy and refreshing lunch break! Lunch was delicious and had plenty of vegetarian options, and afterwards everyone was encouraged to go out for a little stroll in the beautiful April sunshine. The result: a big group photo on the red stairs at Times Square!
The Future Of Coworking Is Female
They laid out the challenges that women still face: women aren’t getting funded. Compared to their male colleagues, female coworking space founders have received significantly less VC funding.
But they also pointed out hopeful examples and explained the female funding ripple effect: when women start businesses, they reinvest in their communities. Meaning: they are more likely to spend their earned income on their families and communities, and they do so much more (80%) than men (30–40%). Which shows that investing in women benefits the entire community!
Throughout the event, women’s contributions to the conference line-up and the discussions they proposed were visible and inspiring, and the excitement of the women present in the audience was tangible in the room, which was very motivating to see!
At Cobot, we are well aware of the challenges that women face in the technology and coworking scene — remember that tweet? So we love to see the coworking community getting even better, with more and more women connecting and teaming up! Under the hashtag #futureofcoworkingisfemale and on womenwhocowork.com, you can connect with other women in the coworking world and contribute to the female future of coworking.
2018 Coworking Stats
Carsten Foertsch from Deskmag presented key findings of his 2018 Coworking Survey.
The first, not-so-surprising trend: everything is getting bigger. The average member count per space, as well as the number of desks and square feet all went up compared to the previous year.
Promote Your Space ASAP
When looking at common challenges for new coworking space operators, one issue was highlighted repeatedly: the concept of coworking is often not understood, and spaces struggle to explain what they are about.
“You need to repeat what your coworking space is about” — Carsten Foertsch, Deskmag
Additional challenges for new operators are the lack of seed money and long lease terms, especially in bigger cities. And of course: finding members. Carsten’s advice here is to start promoting your space as early as possible. The results of his Coworking Survey clearly showed that the earlier a space started to promote itself, the more likely it was to become profitable within the first year.
Accessibility Features in Coworking Spaces
Another outcome of the Coworking Survey was that investing into accessible spaces is not only a great way to make your space more inclusive, but it also pays off: spaces with accessibility features were actually more profitable than spaces that did not invest in becoming more accessible and open.
“Openness can foster social impact as well as profitability” — Carsten Foertsch, Deskmag
Shit Gets Real
Ok, we might be a bit biased here, having known Angel Kwiatkowski from Cohere for a long time as a Cobot customer, but also as a coworking community inspiration.
In her talk “Shit gets real”, she reminded everyone of what makes coworking really coworking: the human stories that happen in spaces every day. With a friendly side-eye towards the more big-business-oriented talks of the morning, Angel went back to look at the personal stories that coworkers deal with and bring to the workspace — such as being pregnant, dealing with medical emergencies or celebrating relieving news together.
Giving Your Community Purpose
Led by Nate Heasley from All Good Work, this session discussed how and why we should connect to our local communities and be a socially responsible business. This is something that is close to our hearts at Cobot, so we were very curious to learn more about how others are doing this.
Anti-Harassment Policies And Codes Of Conduct
Inclusivity and diversity in spaces don’t just happen automatically, and even in the happiest communities you should never assume that every member feels safe or that harrassment will never occur. The session mentioned the #metoo debate and how we should learn from it in the coworking community. Implementing anti harassment policies and enforcing Codes of Conduct was pointed out as first steps to make it easier to talk about and deal with offensive behavior. We can also recommend this from our own experience — Cobot’s community space, co.up, operates under a version of the Berlin Code of Conduct.
Space Donation Programs
One way to give back as a coworking space is to donate part of your space — i.e., give free desk space to groups or individuals with low resources, such as non-profit organizations, student groups or artists. However, a warning ´was shared in the round: as space operator, you need to evaluate organizations and whether their mission fits yours, and also take a realistic look at how much space your business can afford to donate. If you take this into account, you’re much more likely to create good and sustainable relationships from the beginning.
Coworking spaces typically have plenty of room and equipment for bigger events — resources that are not easily affordable for local groups in your community. By offering your event spaces and perhaps also your organizing knowledge to them for free, you can contribute a lot to your local community. And you’ll get a lot back in return: visibility for your space, a great reputation, and plenty of free traffic in your space that might convert to new members. But also — and we loved that this was pointed out again by the audience — it’s just part of being a good community citizen, and absolutely in line with values of coworking!
Marketing Your Space
Another session that was high in demand was about how to market your space. Space owners shared tips and tricks for promoting their space, reaching members and expanding their brand on social media.
We learned that good rankings on search engines are important, especially for spaces in urban areas with high competition. Some of our favorite strategies that any space can try to increase its SEO were:
- Encourage members to leave positive Google Reviews — they are powerful and can push a space easily to the top of search results for coworking in a city.
- The same goes for Yelp Reviews.
- If you have a story to tell and content produced for it: re-use this piece of content on various channels, such as Instagram Stories or Facebook.
- Good images are powerful. Work with professional photographers — you can often find them amongst your coworkers!
- And of course: pay your content creators!
- Tag your members in posts to increase reach. Many members will happily share and like what their home coworking space posts, and that will increase your reach.
- Work with influencers in your space — offer them discounts and discount codes they can share with their followers.
- Join the Coworking Content Alliance (Facebook Group) to learn and discuss more.
Thanks For A Great GCUC!
We at Cobot say thank you to the organizers for another fun, insightful and community-driven event, and already can’t wait for the next GCUC events in Canada and in the UK (by the way, you can already secure tickets for it here!)
We’re planning more coworking and workplace-related events to attend as a team. Which ones do you attend and recommend to us? We’re open to events of all sizes, locations and even languages. If you are organizing anything, be sure to let us know in the comments or on Twitter and Facebook!
If you aren’t already using Cobot to manage your coworking space, give it a go! Just sign up for a free trial or a live demo session. You’ll find our features can help you run your coworking space more effectively and grow your community. And if you have questions, our support team is all ears!