For GCUC Australia, we traveled far: crossing eight time zones and trading in a hot German summer for an equally sunny but refreshing Australian winter. Sydney, the city where this year’s GCUC Australia conference took place, is known for its well-balanced work-life environment, and you can truly feel it just by walking around. Filled with sun and kind people and surrounded by beautiful views of the bay, it’s no surprise the city attracts vast numbers of people who work and collaborate in the many, many coworking spaces around the city.
Sydney Coworking Tours
As a warm-up before the actual GCUC Australia conference, Cobot joined one of the organized space tours in the city, led by Jake Dimarco from Spare Workspace. The tour covered five spaces in the Pyrmont and Wynyard neighbourhoods.
The starting point of the tour was WOTSO Pyrmont, located near Darling Harbour. WOTSO is known for giving new life to unconventional materials in all of their spaces, and the Pyrmont site, with its wall finish made out of plastic drink crates, is no exception. Recycling at its best!
Next we headed to Here Coworking, an elegant and peaceful space with a “million dollar view” over Darling Harbour, in the words of the owner. Members there are mainly creatives from various disciplines, and we could easily see what attracts them to the space.
The last stop of the tour was at the Sydney Startup Hub, where we visited three spaces: Stone & Chalk, Fishburners and Tank Stream Labs. They all serve as incubators and accelerators, specializing in fintech and early-adopters technology. Located across multiple floors and both new and old parts of the former Railway House, they all manage to have their own, unique character. And the space operators aren’t the only ones who found the original tiled corridor walls interesting — some scenes from The Matrix were filmed right here!
A short train ride later we all arrived at one of the Hub Australia locations to end the day with chats and drinks on their terrace. We had a great time filled with networking and laughter, where lots of valuable connections and perhaps even friendships began.
Day 1: The Conference
The first day of the conference took place in a rather outstanding location: the Australian National Maritime Museum. Raise your hand if you’ve ever attended an event with a submarine view — it certainly was the first time for us! On top of that, the birds from the harbour created a perfect backdrop of ambient sound for all the talks during the day.
People gathered, coffee was served, and GCUC Australia 2018 was on. After a short session on the future of work, Holly Ranson amazed the audience with facts and numbers about the Australian market. She provided a very wide-reaching and in-depth analysis of the status quo as well as some predictions for the future. In short: the Australian market is doing just alright, but others are developing even faster, and the pioneers are located in countries such as China and Kenya. Her tips for the future? Embrace automation and don’t underestimate “Gen C” as “a powerful new force in consumer culture. It’s a term we use to describe people who care deeply about creation, curation, connection, and community.” (source: Google)
The following session on expansion showed us that coworking businesses can use these changes to their benefit. Because community and connection are built into their DNA, coworking spaces are the places to be for the modern workforce. As Tobi Skovron, one of the panelists, said: “Community is the new currency”.
The afternoon talks focused on business aspects, with topics such as different ways of funding and attracting corporate customers, where the experts were either founders of large multi-location spaces or specialized in investment and real estate. Coworking is not a niche anymore — It is changing very rapidly and attracting more and more big players. WeWork came up during the conversation and all the experts agreed: they are doing a fantastic marketing job for all the smaller operators around, by educating both potential customers and investors and explaining what coworking is about.
Besides the market and growth aspects of the coworking world, the GCUC program also covered hospitality and health issues, and the word “community” was used countless times. Coworking communities can keep people mentally healthy, create the value of a safe space, help members develop their own businesses, and much more! Maintaining a lively community lively with happy members is a hard job, but it pays off in the long run. Maybe it’s the Australian way of doing things, maybe it’s the key to the global success, but people agreed: community over quantity. So before you go big, build a strong, local community first.
A few points to remember after the conference: community is key, don’t be afraid of WeWork, and never, ever borrow money from family.
Day 2: The (un)conference
The second day of GCUC is usually an unconference — a loosely structured exchange of information, driven by the input of all attendees. During a morning full of shorter panel sessions in small groups, people were free to add their own notes and ask very detailed questions. The topics ranged from operations and hardware decisions to contracts, marketing, design and social impact. Something for everyone! Running a successful coworking space means being an expert in many fields, and GCUC made sure to give room for everyone to catch up on the areas they’re not (yet) an expert on. Each conference is a great opportunity, and we can only encourage all space owners to attend them and make the coworking magic happen!
In case you missed out this time, we’ve met a bunch of great coworking space owners who shared their learnings with us. You can read about it in the coming weeks when we publish them as part of our “5 questions with” series. Stay tuned!
Let us know how we can support your local conferences, meetups, and other gatherings.
Cobot is always looking for events that benefit the broader coworking or tech community to attend and support as a team. We’re open to events of all sizes, locations and even languages. If you are organizing anything, be sure to let us know!