The Coworking Movement and its Values

May 27th brings you an action-packed, half-day digital conference joining some key minds in the coworking industry. The Coworking Symposium 2020, is a free event aimed at providing the opportunity for masterminds and members to network, to discuss coworking values and to answer those burning questions within the industry. 

Among the line-up of speakers is Jeannine van der Linden, director at European Coworking Assembly. Relocating from the USA to the Netherlands, Jeannine was no longer able to practice law and was pushed into thinking outside of the box. With the availability of an office on their property, she became an accidental entrepreneur, and founded De Kamer, her first coworking space, in 2010, during the recession. Jeannie quickly became entrenched in this lifestyle and the vision it offers for ‘the future of work’.

The coworking movement grew in part out of the open-source movement, as many people involved in the early days of coworking, were also involved in open source. This explains why they have similar values and similar drivers. The sustainability of this working model is driven by its values, which are revised as necessary. Coworking has the potential to disrupt business real estate but needs to make structured and deliberate decisions measured by these values. Every important decision made regarding a coworking space should be measured using these values as matrices: 

  • Accessibility
  • Collaboration
  • Community
  • Openness
  • Sustainability

The following manifesto has been adopted by independent coworking spaces worldwide – 

  • We don’t believe in competition which makes us highly competitive with respect to people who are not within our community
  • We make work a better experience through space and knowledge sharing every day
  • We continually enrich our professional skills by interacting with our community
  • We are part of a larger community and that community speaks to each other
  • Coworking is just a word – the meaning is given by the people
  • Coworking is always the beginning of something
  • The best marketing strategy is happiness
  • Relationships come first, profits second
  • Our coworkers are not our clients 
  • Coworking is a labour of love

A strong view on this develops a community of working individuals with a common motto – we help first. Jeannine has seen this firsthand, Now in the second crisis she’s faced since 2010, some of her coworkers have paid double their rental due, urging her to apply the balance towards a fellow coworker who cannot afford to pay theirs due during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Jeannine follows a rule of thumb that 80 – 100 members across all sectors are permitted per coworking space, with a maximum 50% capacity at all times. If they start exceeding this, then it’s time to grow and find additional locations. It is imperative that coworkers can walk into De Kamer at any time and find a workspace without the hassle and without having to sit and work in crowded, noisy rooms. It encourages a sense of community, a more personal experience than that of traditional office space – that is what makes the model such a success. Finally, Jeannine’s profound view is that coworking members will drive the development of Europe, saying, “Coworkers decide everything — by what they do and what they want. From freelancers to employed people with a side gig, from small businesses to distributed teams, they are driving the future of work and creating the new world every day.  We are infrastructure, not creators.  We give them a safe home and serve them so they can do it”. 

Register for your free virtual seat to attend the digital Coworking Symposium on May 27th, and learn more about Jeannine’s coworking history and how you can place an emphasis on community-driven values. Find the order of the events and more here, and interact with us using the following social media hashtag #CoworkingSymposium2020. We can’t wait to have you there!

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