Conferences and Events

GCUC Canada 2016 Report

Nov 23, 2016
GCUC Canada 2016 Report

I had the luck to attend GCUC Canada in the beautiful city of Montreal last month, and I would like to share why I loved this edition of GCUC.

While being smaller than its big sister GCUC USA, it still attracted coworking pioneers from near and far, veterans and newcomers alike. Also the overarching topic was big! Here are my highlights:

The opening video presentation by Liz, founder of GCUC and a force in the coworking movement, was about the driving factors of the 4th industrial revolution, and guess what the most driving factor is according to a World Bank study?! The way people want work! ( sorry it seems like nobody took a photo of the slide with the numbers). Her talk contained tons of facts and felt very present even though it was pre recorded.

The following panel discussion with coworking space operators from Canada gave an interesting insight into the Canadian coworking scene. I’m always amazed how different coworking is in other places and how diverse the origin stories are.

My next highlight was “Purpose Driven Real Estate” by Natalie. Her talk focused on the social aspects and possibilities of real estate development. Arguing for a shift away from return on investment as the benchmark for real estate development on a much more meaningful “return on human investment”, as she called it. She gave ample examples how they aim to use “…real estate as a force for economic development and community integration. Break the silos that exist between sectors and redefine the way we interact, collaborate, innovate and build our collective future.” Most prominent with their involvement in Le Salon 1861.

Of course no coworking conference is complete without some hard numbers and facts that are gathered by Carsten of Deskmag, coworking’s main business magazine.

E.g. did you know that almost 1/3 of spaces struggle with administrative workload. Something cobot can help with so that you can focus on the more impactful challenges, meaning taking good care of your members and the community.

Another insightful number from the presentation: The share of employees jumped by 10% to 36% from the previous period of 2013/2014. A clear indication that coworking is driving the change in ways we work not only for a small independent elite. Also the average age of coworkers went up to 35 years, a further indication that coworking reaches more levels of our society.

A coworking conference first for me was the coworkers panel. It was great to hear from coworkers of other spaces directly what they love and expect from coworking. The take away is that “the empowerment of the community” is the prime expectation. Be there for your members! Other benefits according to coworker Anna Crooke that some of you can probably relate to is that she ”… shed the onesie. Now I show up in clothes.“

Yes, members are the core of coworking. But do you know who takes care of them? Yes! The coworking space’s staff. Iris from coworking with Iris did an important contribution to the conference by talking about “Growing Your Team Holistically”. She pointed out how hiring and growing a great team is key to run and grow your space. She covered all the major aspects of how to setup your hiring process. From identifying your needs based on your community values and existing staff over preparations like the Job Description and getting the word out to the Interview and then what to consider in the final offer.

After a small break we came back to the community with Oren’s talk “How to Sustain a Buzz in Your Community: Lessons From the Honeybees” which uses some memorable bee analogies. The most helpful analogy for new spaces in my opinion: There is no single bee, it starts with a swarm.

The day was concluded by a powerful speech by Tony, a pioneer of the industry that reminded everyone of the greater goals coworking aims for and that we have to be real, try things, Don’t be attached

to outcomes, say yes, don’t try it alone, articulate a higher purpose and celebrate our victories. Because “we are a movement! Not just an industry.”

I said, yes, yes and yes after these great talks, fitting closing words and all around great conference day. I enjoyed every bit of the conference, not least pending time with people that are eager to share, learn and have a good time.

Big thanks to Ashley and the whole GCUC Canada team for this great experience. As always I can’t wait for my next coworking conference.

– Thilo

PS: Thanks to the meshwork crew for organizing the conference boat where I had the pleasure to stay with other lovely coworking folks.


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