Have you ever begun a conference by linking arms with your fellow attendees?
Cowork Buzz kicked off by asking us all to share a fact about ourselves, see if we have it in common with someone else, and then link our arms together. We found ourselves forming a complete circle in no time. This vividly demonstrated that we are connected to others in so many unexpected ways — and it led to some good laughs and a few fast friendships.
That memorable intro was a small but auspicious start to our time in Porto, Portugal, for Cowork Buzz on the 25th and 26th of October. This year, they operated under the motto Unique is the New Black. So how did they live up to that lofty motto?
To start, the fantastic MC Carly Petracco took it from there and shared her personal coworking story that formed the core of her keynote. Though she no longer runs a coworking space, she continues to work very closely with people in a a similar capacity as a wedding planer.
Our good friends (and content partners) Pauline and Dimitar from Coworkies shared Updates and News for Coworking Worldwide. They intentionally avoided talking about the most obvious angle (you know, WeWork 😄), and instead chose to focus on how coworking has changed cities, spaces and people.
Ruba Nemekh — part of the Porto i/o and Cowork Buzz teams shared the first results from Coworking Portugal. They discovered some hard facts about the coworking market, for example: roughly 25% of spaces have less than 20 members; as well as some fun facts, like that there’s a space with a hair salon as a paid add-on service.
Diversifying the Market
After coffee break we had coworking showcase presentations under the motto Out of the Box: Diversifying the Market. Of the four excellent presentations, here are a few highlights:
Katja from JuggleHUB in Berlin gave a rundown of their success operating a coworking space for parents. According to her, their community was essential to their success and provided talent for their team to grow, so that they are now ready to expand to more locations and cities. And neatly aligning with her main themes, Katja was not there in person but instead recorded her talk, so as to fly less and spend more time with her daughter.
Vasili Sofiadellis from Changemakers Lab in Lesvos, Greece spoke about their efforts to improve the lives of refugees and fighting for a better perception of refugees in our society. Namely, that they are people that used to have a life and career just like any of us — suddenly ripped away from it by war.
Over a delicious dinner we had the chance to chat directly with participants and speakers. The conference was rather intimate, with roughly 50 people in attendance; which make it all the more surprising that it was a more diverse group than we are used to seeing from international conferences.
Automation and the numbers
The next morning we started fresh and happy thanks to the excellent weather in Porto. Our morning ice breaker was an emotional, challenging, and deafeningly loud rock-paper-scissors contest.
We than split up into workshops. Nuno Veloso led Automating your Finances. Since that’s our business too and we’re always eager to learn more, we sat in on the session and were not disappointed. Our biggest takeaway was a handy little budgeting tip: If you want to buy something in the future or have some money for rainy days, calculate it as monthly costs. Well, maybe that’s already a known “hack” that we’ve only just found out about. The sustainability workshop drafted a coworking sustainability manifesto (we might just hear more about this in the future).
After a much-appreciated coffee break we got some numbers from the coworkers side in Hear your Customer. Hearteningly, on average coworkers rated their space higher than the spaces themselves. 9.3 vs 8.5 out of 10. Well done Portugal!
Next, Nuno Veloso and Krloos Rivera from Social Nest in Valencia shared a conversation on second-tier cities, a topic that we hear a lot lately. Now that big cities’ coworking scenes have matured, a second wave of coworking metropolises is rising. These “second-tier” cities have a different dynamic; for example, they tend to be in much closer collaboration with their local governments.
The next block was called Co-Dating. At this point, we’d moved definitively from icebreaking to ice-melting, with the aim to open up the crowd for more interaction. My favorite exercise was writing down three questions like: “What was your best ever coworking stupid idea?” and spending three round of discussing and exchanging your questions randomly. After 3 rounds you end up with questions that are not your own and talking with people you haven’t met before.
Sadly we had to fly out directly afterwards and couldn’t participate in the final part of the conference. But we got a glimpse of it while chatting with speakers the night before.
In Grow As you Go, among others, Ellie Bryant shared her experience with building up a coworking brand in the UK for a company from China. She stumbled into a hard lesson that markets behave differently from one another and you need to set the right expectations beforehand when working across borders. Justina Kilinski from Unicorn Workspaces provided insight into how the flexible office space provide was set on its current growth path.
The day was closed by Manual Zea from Coworking Spain on Coworking Conferences Why, How, What. We already know why we love the Coworking Spain conference and can’t wait to go back. It’s a fantastic time and we wrote a bit about what we saw at CWSC when we got back to Berlin.
To sum up our experience in one sentence: Coworking Buzz was a warm and welcoming local coworking conference with a international outlook in both guests and topics, featuring fantastic icebreakers that succeeded in connecting the coworking community in Portugal with the wider world.
And that pretty much gets to the heart of it! You should go to the next one if you’re able; we’re glad we made the journey to Porto this year.
If you aren’t already using Cobot as your coworking management software, give it a go! You’ll find that our features can help you run your coworking space more effectively and grow your community. Just sign up for a free trial or a live demo session. And if you have questions, our support team is all ears!