Marta Moksa is the Managing Director of one of the biggest Polish coworking spaces: O4, which operates in Olivia Business Centre in Gdańsk. Lawyer by education, project manager and team leader by experience and passion. Involved in the coworking movement since 2014. Participant of international coworking conferences in Europe, North America, and Asia. She’s a content manager and co-author of the “Coworking — I want it that way” report about the Polish coworking and freelancers scene. She gladly supports all New Economy representatives, who share her beliefs in community (cooperation and relations), openness (trust and transparency), and the sharing economy.
Hi Marta, thanks for taking the time to talk with us. Can you tell us a bit about your role as a Managing Director at O4?
I see my role mostly as a listener for my team. I have a wonderful team of very talented, devoted and hard-working people. All I really have to do is not interrupt them :) — and offer support whenever needed. It wasn’t always like that. At the beginning I was quite alone in all of this — then we were doing everything in a team of two. By “everything” I mean everything down to buying forks, conference room setup, and selling the memberships — I must say having Cobot on our side at that time was extremely helpful, it was the original time-saver.
Now we have a team of ten helping a few hundred of our members. It is a great job — but exhausting and “burnouting” at the same time. I try to be there for my community, marketing, project, and account managers. And not forget that I’m mainly responsible to deliver goods to our members. And for the whole O4 community.
How did you originally get involved in coworking?
By accident :) I come from the project management, startup and education world. I was asked to help start an incubator/startup ecosystem-oriented, 100% privately funded project. And then one day it occurred to me that we’re doing coworking :)
You are also one of the organizers of Coworking Now. What have you found is the most rewarding part of running this conference?
We’re actually the only organizer of Coworking Now, supported by great partners (the city of Gdańsk needs extra recognition). The conference is an extremely complicated project. I’m not talking about logistics obviously, but the “why” aspect.
We started out inspired by the Coworking Europe conference and Jean-Yves Huwart’s story. The first conference we participated in (it was in Milan) was a turning point for us. I understood that coworking needs cooperation, openness, and education to grow in Poland. A few years ago we were really quite unique — we still are of course :) — but there are more “real” coworking spaces in Poland now. We wanted the event to be both, a kind of coworking assembly working together for common benefits, and a way to promote the movement among potential coworkers. Now we see, that the most important rewarding part of it are our international, national and local networking benefits.
Thanks to the conference we’ve created a network of O4-friendly people all around the world. We met wonderful speakers, mentors, and coworking gurus. But being an organizer makes it very hard for us to participate in core activities like listening to all the talks, or taking part in workshops. This has been the biggest cost.
What has been the biggest challenge in your time at the conference?
I would say there are two: money and participants :) We never wanted the conference to be the source of extra income, but we can’t be the sponsor of it. And such a popular and well-attended conference is expensive — covering those costs is a challenge. It’s not easy also to convince Polish coworking space operators to come. It is not a coincidence, that we were the only Polish coworking participating in Coworking Europe, Coworking Asia, and GCUC events.
The first year of Coworking Now was really small — more similar to a meeting than a conference. This year we had over 150 people. And most importantly — “the” people (I mean those in the coworking business!). So we’re growing. But it’s not easy — trust me!
How do you think coworking is different in Poland than in other European countries?
There are some similarities and some differences. O4 is not only a conference organizer. We also publish a Report about Polish Coworkings*. We focus on business, people managing coworking spaces, and people using these spaces. We compare our data to those gathered by Carsten Foertsch in Deskmag’s Coworking Survey. We can see, that polish coworking is less “coworking” :) — that’s why I’m talking about O4 uniqueness. Only a third of coworking spaces in Poland organize networking events on regular basis. Only a quarter of them plan to open new locations. Coworking here is different by being mostly one of two things — either a sexy add-on to developer offer or a “side” extra job. But those fantastic ones — and there are fantastic coworking spaces in Poland — are as good, creative and beautiful as our older peers around the world.
Thank you for your time! How can people connect with your organizations online?
:) Thanks for having me! I think you’re doing a great job!
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