Welcome to another episode of Coworking Values Podcasts folks. And this week, we have another topic for you that will let us catch a glimpse of the future of coworking.
In this episode, we have Albert Cañigueral Bagó, Connector Spain & LATAM of Ouishare, and Vanessa Sans, Founder of Happy Working Lab. We are going to be deep-diving into the Future Of Coworking. And how Coworking is the now the new normal of working.
How do you think Coworking is fitting into the “new normal”?
I really believe that working’s been a breeze, especially. And because of this acceleration Coworking is becoming the new way of working. It’s not just the space it’s the way how people are.
So also while the Coworking industry has grown because companies were recouping those, especially in the last year. And right now, companies are suffering a transformation, they are changing their structures and integrating the strategies in the workplace and in the workforce, as well.
And I think that Coworking spaces are playing a key role for companies. And, but they have to change the offer because the demand now it’s different.
What advice would you give coworking space operators/owners on changes to their offers?
It was always when there is this uncertain situation. There is a famous conference with Jeff Bezos was asked not what is he going to develop Amazon in the next 10 years? Or what was the basis of his business?
And he said that when something is uncertain, it’s very difficult to invest in this. So it’s going back to the basic go back to what is certainly interesting for the customer. And he said fast delivery and cheap prices. That’s universal.
And that is going to be there for a long, long, long time. So it’s safe for you to bet on the certainties. So maybe for Coworking his basis also to understand what are the certainties and I would say being a Coworking user the flexibility a little bit, but as I was saying about these flexible plans, so maybe flexible, adaptable to your customers, there is technology, there are ways that you can adjust the customer needs and the flexibility.
Zeljko Crnjaković 0:18
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Bernie J Mitchel 0:53
Hello ladies and gentlemen, and welcome to this week’s edition of the Coworking Values Podcast. I’ve got to two of the OG’s of European future of work and coworking. Vanessa, what are you known for, and what would you like to be known for nowadays?
Vanessa Sans 1:11
In the sector, right?
Bernie J Mitchel 1:15
How long have you been in coworking? It must be like 10 years or so?
Vanessa Sans 1:22
I’m not sure if it was 2010, or 11, but it’s almost 10 years. To me, the first touch with coworking was actually long time ago. I was organizing an event and then I fell in love with this way of working. It was 10 years ago.
Bernie J Mitchel 2:27
That’s like 100 years in coworking years isn’t it. Mr. Bagó, we met oddly in San Francisco, conference, and I remember talking to you about sharing economy event in 2012. And then we went to Lisa’s event in San Francisco, what do you do these days, because I remember you saying in one of our conferences that I’m an activist. I’m a businessperson, and to businesspeople I’m an activist, and I don’t know where I am. So, where are you nowadays?
Albert Cañigueral Bagó 3:20
As you’re explaining, my background is coming from the sharing economy or collaborative economy. This is how we met almost a decade ago. I’ve also been a member of several coworking spaces in Barcelona. Barcelona was my first and now we’re at Club Works. Through the jungle of the sharing economy, I learned how digital platforms are market shapers, and they can have a huge influence in our societies and our lives. I decided like three years ago to focus on exploring in the impacts of these digital platforms, how are they reshaping the labour market and exploring the future of work, especially for workers, the people not only the concept, but also what’s happening within people, mostly from a Spanish perspective in America.
Bernie J Mitchel 4:37
This time last year, you tweeted that COVID has accelerated the future of work by 10 years. And even if you didn’t say that it sounds like the sort of thing you would say. Can you explain how workers fared in this digital platform, COVID work acceleration thing? Because I think there are a lot of people that have won a lot, and an even greater number maybe that lost out completely.
Albert Cañigueral Bagó 5:13
Acceleration in three dimensions. So, the things you are doing, the workforce in your organization is being managed, even our work activities. So, due to COVID, we’ve been exploring a lot of different options in these three dimensions. The most obvious one is the remote work. We used to go to the office, or in our case coworking spaces in the office, or on the factory floor or school. Those who, which is not everybody, they have started working remotely from the company site that has also been the first time for a lot of them to be hiring people remotely. They were hiring people that they’ve actually never met because they need new technical people to develop all the remote tools, or culture of remote work.
So, it’s quite an interesting experience for the organization and for the managers. Also, understanding that the talent that you need to develop products or services do not need to be living around your headquarters or the main office. So, people also experience working with people in other time zones for the first time. All this has been happening at the same time, probably, in a very extreme situation, so. it is not a normal situation. Working from home with the kids, your husband or your spouse in your house is not so easy. So, we should not take that as the new normal. I’m not sure anybody can still explain or define what is going on.
Bernie J Mitchel 7:20
I agree. I keep on pretending I can explain it, but I had to accept that I’m making it up. Vanessa, how are you feeling or experiencing coworking fitting into the new world or what we’re doing now, because I’m crazy about things like the 15 Minutes city and everybody working locally but, in your 10 years of being around, do you think that’s what’s going to happen?
Vanessa Sans 7:53
I really believe that coworking is becoming the new way of working. It’s not just the space, it’s the way which people work. Also, the coworking industry has grown, because companies were cooking, those spaces in the last year. And right now, companies are suffering the transformation. They are changing their structures and changing to integrating the strategies in the workplace, in the workforce as well. And I think that coworking spaces are playing occasion for companies. But they have to change the offer because the demand is now different. Before, companies were contracting coworking floors. So, a company with maybe 30 people was constructing a big private office, and now, this contract is distributing the team in different coworking spaces. Working from home is okay but not everybody has the right conditions.
Bernie J Mitchel 9:56
Any piece of advice you would give to a coworking space operator to adjust their offering or their membership levels? Part of my question there is, personally I think it’s really hard to work out what is going to happen. So, would it be to have a membership level for three months or?
Vanessa Sans 9:56
Right now, some coworking spaces are suffering since there are restrictions because COVID is still here. We’re working with different clients in Abu Dhabi and Panama in Spain. And so, depending on the country, in Panama they are still in lockdown, for example. What I noticed is that there are new products that are in demand, for example, private office for one day. The hot desk memberships are also in more demand. All those services offering more flexibility are the ones that people are demanding right now. The reality is that with coronavirus, everything is uncertain, and companies need to be prepared to face another crisis or any kind of market changes.
Bernie J Mitchel 12:11
Yes. It’s very uncertain.
Albert Cañigueral Bagó 12:16
I want to comment on this. During this uncertainty situation, the most confident was asked what the basis of his business was. He said, when something is very difficult, we go back to the basics, go back to what is certainly interesting for the customer. He said fast delivery and practice. He said that’s universal and that is going to be there for a long time. So, it’s safe to bet on these coworking spaces, also to understand a little bit about these flexible plans. New, flexible, and adaptable to your customers. There are ways that you can adjust the customer needs and their flexibility. I also would say that the human connections what they value is meeting other human beings. Otherwise, what’s the point of sending emails from anywhere else.
Bernie J Mitchel 13:53
It feels like a very first worldy privileged thing to say, I’m going to go on an app to get a job by magic. And it sounds really easy to do. But, what’s the reality of that. Because I feel like people like us three are already very well connected. So, we kind of do it without thinking. But, if you’ve just left a job in a big company, and someone says go on an app and get a job, is there something people should account for? Is that a fair thing to ask people to do?
Albert Cañigueral Bagó 14:27
Yeah, it should be one of the options, depending on the situation. A professor at MIT Sloan School said, my father had seven jobs during my lifetime. My kids will have seven jobs or seven income streams at the same time. So, these are high level frequency contracts, different job commitments, where we need to use technology. Now, when we have a very low marketplace it is okay because my father was a schoolteacher, he only had one contract so, he was only in the market once. When I was an employee, I wanted to be on the marketplace, on the freelancing space, or maybe even have several jobs at the same time. These dynamism platforms are important to facilitate the organization of these marketplaces. I will say when I worked with a Dutch foundation called Wage Indicator, they kept an eye in the labour marketplaces around the world, and it’s quite fascinating to see what’s going on, for example in Philippines, in Malaysia, in Kenya, when governments are strong on having digital capabilities for their population, so that highly innovative and highly diverse people can work around the world without leaving their hometown.
Bernie J Mitchel 16:55
Vanessa, how are people finding work in your local community? Are they always working online or have people been coming into your coworking space?
Vanessa Sans 17:11
Not like before. I’m working from a coworking space here in Barcelona. It’s not full capacity. So, no spaces are welcoming new members, but. I see that it’s very hard to attract companies to offer the private office that are available, but more modest hot desk members are coming in every week. This is a good sign but it’s fine little by little.
Bernie J Mitchel 18:12
I’m very interested in how Carlos Marino’s 15 Minutes city will actually become a reality for places around the world. So, here in London, I’ve moved to a coworking office space, this is actually 15 minutes from our house. So, we get to drop off Oli at school, come here, and go home. A lot of things are close so, not as much happens in one area, but everything happens in one area. And I just wondered, from both your perspectives, how this will work, or will it work? Is it an exciting thing to talk about and then we’ll just all go back to what we were doing before? What do you think, Albert?
Albert Cañigueral Bagó 19:21
This vision from Carlos is being developed in Paris and adapted in other cities, including Barcelona. Barcelona configuration of a city is already very well prepared for this kind of organization. We have a practice policy on the super blocks, where it’s more of a pedestrian area. We have a lot of local markets that are central hubs for these 15-minute regions where we can have public schools, public libraries, markets and coworking spaces. I think that side of Barcelona is also pretty human scaled. I think it’s pretty obvious that the benefits are there and the challenges. We expect positive and negative consequences because the people who go to the city in London or the financial district where there is a lot of commerce, a lot of bars and restaurants and shops, we will not have the same level of business that they are used to.
Bernie J Mitchel 21:20
I wonder how many of those people knew what things like Shopify and stuff was this time last year. So, listen folks we are at the end of our little thing, and I’m so delighted to have you two particular people on the same podcast at the same time. You have been a big part of my coworking haphazard freelance career, and I’m grateful for everything. Do you have a topic yet for Coworking Spain or are you going to jump on stage and go with it?
Albert Cañigueral Bagó 22:49
I wrote a book last year, November 2020. This book is about the workforce, mostly about the fragmented workforce. Hiring workforce is a topic of my interest and I think I will go into this direction.
Bernie J Mitchel 23:40
That sounds great. And Vanessa, have you got anything you’d like to shout out about?
Vanessa Sans 24:02
We just partnered up with an agency from US. We are going to work together to provide strategies to companies that want to embrace the flexible work.
Bernie J Mitchel 24:45
We can put a link to that in the show notes for sure. And also, I see you dabbling in co-living as well, that’s exciting too.
Vanessa Sans 24:53
Yes. It’s very exciting. We are currently working in Abu Dhabi in my in my sub-city. We are developing a co-living and a working space.
Bernie J Mitchel 25:47
I’ve been following the emergence of co-living and building co-living space, but I’ve always been very interested in how that relationship between a coworking space, and a co-living space would evolve.
Vanessa Sans 26:13
With this COVID, co-living and coworking spaces have been very well in the situation. And because of this, it’s important to integrate them.
Bernie J Mitchel 26:41
I’m going to put a link to all these exciting projects in the show notes. I’m inviting you to Coworking Spain, which is on May the fourth, and it’s a series of online events. It’s not all in one day. We have our Coworking Symposium, which we’re doing with the University of Economics in Prague, which is on the 15th of April. We have like 10 professors who have been researching the future of work and coworking and shared workspaces, and they’re all going to present different presentations on how the workspace industry will evolve in a post COVID society, which sounds very dramatic and also there’s Workplace Trends, which is one of the oldest longest running workplace conferences in the UK who we’re working with this year as well. Thank you, Vanessa. Great to have you here. And if you ever come to the UK again come and say hello.
Vanessa Sans 27:54
We’ll for sure we will come back to the UK after this episode.