The Coworking and Coliving Conference Spain 2023 — Day Two

Jun 9, 2023
The Coworking and Coliving Conference Spain 2023 — Day Two

After an exciting first day, Cobot’s Kristina Schneider, Thilo Utke and Laura Tump were back for the second day of the Coworking and Coliving Conference Spain 2023 in Valencia. The agenda for the second day covered a wide range of topics, from the usefulness of AI in coworking, to growth and strategy in managing a flex space. Not only that, but there would also be talks on rural coworking, a trend that Cobot has seen covered a lot over the last few years, and we were excited to see how this trend would continue to develop. Be sure to check out our post from day one of the conference here.

Redrawing the expansion strategy — Rebecca Nachanakian, General Manager Southern Europe, Benelux & Nordics at WeWork

In a conversation with Marc Navarro, Rebecca Nachanakian discussed the rapid growth of WeWork since its inception in 2009. However, it was not all smooth sailing: the COVID-19 pandemic was a massive challenge to the entire coworking industry and as such it hit WeWork hard. As Rebecca explained, there was a sudden need for total flexibility due to the massive level of uncertainty.

Today is our time. I’ll tell you why’’

Companies no longer want to commit to multi-year office leases anymore, as in turbulent times, these leases can be a massive drawback to firms who need to cut cost and react to changing employee demands. This is where flexibility in pricing and design comes in. With companies and cultures developing at a rapid rate, WeWork has focused on providing an extremely flexible offering to their clients.

One exemplary initiative is their product Access. This app gives customers access to all WeWork locations, alongside a monthly membership and the ability to buy day passes. No long-term contracts required.

Marc then posed a question that everyone in the audience was curious about – what is the secret behind WeWorks’s growth strategy? Rebecca shared how they strictly focus on identifying gaps in the market, and acting where there is demand. As an example, Portugal was one country in which WeWork was not yet present, and there was a large client there in need of office space. WeWork then scouted out the area and found partner spaces to cater to the client.

AI for Coworking Spaces: Practical Solutions — Helga Moreno

An interesting new question is how AI will change the coworking industry. Helga Moreno asked the audience who already uses AI to help run their spaces, following this many hands went up. While AI is still being improved and further refined, many spaces are already trying to stay ahead of the curve and utilize AI for their benefit.

Helga highlighted some use cases for coworking spaces that can help them run more efficiently, some examples of those were:

All these different AI tools provide spaces with an opportunity to grow their businesses, and to stay ahead of the curve. For smaller spaces, there may not be enough time to fix all the needs of a space.

The Panoramis project in Alicante — Javier Reina, CEO of Business World Alicante

The CEO of Business World Alicante, Javier Reina, walked us through the successes of the Panoramis project. Avid readers of the Cobot blog may recognize Javier's name, as we've featured him in the past – be sure to check out that post here if you haven't already.

Javier analyzed data from the airline industry to determine the level of demand in Alicante for various business opportunities. In 2018, he convinced the owner of a local shopping mall to collaborate, making coworking the engine of the project. A greater influx of people would benefit existing businesses, such as gyms and cinemas. The space benefited local professionals, who were able to access the facilities at a reduced price.

By 2023, the space was over 99% occupied, which is astounding given the relative decline of malls around the world in recent decades. The success of the project in Alicante means that what was once a shopping mall, is now a thriving forum for local businesses.

Back to the Future: Creating a hybrid coworking — Martina Muises, Co-founder of Loft 153

Created in November 2020 by Martina Muises, Loft 153 is not only a coworking space, instead, it is composed of various components that benefit each other: Besides being a coworking space, Loft 153 is an event space, a room for workshops, and a pop-up space for various collaborations.

While the space was opened with low expectations, the vision was big. Martina’s focus was on creating a brand and a reputation.

“We always thought about Loft 153 like entrepreneurs – it will grow and it will transform”

From the beginning, Martina planned the space and business to remain flexible in a changing environment – which makes sense since the space was founded a few months after the COVID-19 pandemic. If a new space can survive the pandemic, there is not much that can stop it. Martina shared how ambitious goals help her to ensure that the space is always moving forward. By constantly challenging yourself, there will always be an improvement, things won't get stale.

Martina shared a bit of practical advice and highlighted channels to reach potential new customers, the most impactful being Google Business. Since Loft 153 is also a workshop space and hosts pop-ups, reaching out to other local businesses is a great way to create more connections and future partnerships. Involving the neighborhood was another way to bring more attention to the space, as a great sense of community support can be vital to the survival of spaces. By doing business this way, there are many personal referrals and word spreads quickly, free marketing is always a plus!

“A working environment that reminds people of home”

Finally, it became clear that the real driver of Loft 153’s success is its ability to create a second home for its community members. Martina’s strong focus on creating a memorable experience for everyone who comes into the space, whether they stay for 20 minutes or 4 years, is what creates a truly unique space. To create a work environment in which people can feel relaxed and confident in their work.

An unconventional growth — Anastasiia Gavrylova, Coworking Enthusiast

After lunch, we had the unique opportunity of hearing from Anastasiia Gavrylova on the topic of growth in the face of crisis.

With the ongoing war in Ukraine, it is hard to believe that businesses can grow. But as Anastasiia shared, people want to go about their business as best as possible. Coworking spaces in Ukraine provide opportunities to do that and in that way help to revitalize devastated communities, both physically and emotionally. It is this emotional connection that Anastasiia emphasizes as essential to building a solid community in her talk about different spaces that they realized with NatCoworking. One example that she gave was about the repurposing of a former restaurant that had to close when the war came to Liviv. It provides 65 workplaces, while the former downstairs bar served as a bomb shelter. The place became lively quickly, not only for people to work and connect—but get through missile attacks.

“you don't want to be alone when it's all dark”

Coworking is still not very well known in Ukraine, but the space acts as a social space as well as a workspace, it seems to be bringing communities together during a time of hardship.

The day and the event ended with a panel discussion including Susana Mountuenga (Origen Ibiza), Mireia Sánchez (The Business Factory Coworking), Arantxa Grajal, Elena Giroli (Creative Works), and Cristina Gónzalez (Fento Coworking). They all sat up close to the audience, and lead into an open conversation about conflicts that can arise in their communities, and how to deal with them as they arise, and even beyond: Conflicts and areas of work that exist in our industry.

Mireia gave a good example of how many people come to the Business Factory Coworking straight from the beach covered in sand and want to use the showers. This reflects the struggle that some spaces have when people expect everything from business owners, and take advantage of their goodwill. Susana also added how some people come to Origen Ibiza, looking for a place to sleep, with Cristina González mentioning how she also has people sleeping at Fento Coworking.

Cristina González, also highlighted how having a community of trusted members ensures that spaces have a good social net and that when problems do arise, the community often steps in to help their local space.

This last session was a fitting closing and exemplary of what makes Coworking Spain Conference so special: Real, honest conversations, bringing together the knowledge and experience of the real leaders of the Spanish coworking community. We are already looking forward to the next Coworking and Coliving Conference Spain.

If you're looking to streamline operations within your coworking community, give Cobot a try. Feel free to contact us or sign up for a demo here and get started today.

Happy Coworking!


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