The Cowork University meetup brings together coworking space owners, managers, and advocates, from all over the world to share ideas, best practices, and experiences. I attend as a digital nomad and advocate of coworking and have found the meetup to be a wonderful brain trust of like minded people looking to grow together.

Did you check out July’s Cowork University Meetup summary?

In August, we discussed:

 – The background experience of coworking space owners and managers. Is there a typical background that leads a person to coworking space ownership or management?

 – Connecting coworking spaces in and between cities.

Backgrounds & Challenges of the People behind Coworking

One of the many benefits of any coworking space or shared workspace is that it brings together people of different backgrounds, experiences and knowledge.

Why is this important?

Simple. Any time you bring together people with different viewpoints and opinions, you create a wonderful melting pot of people who can share and grow together even if they aren’t in the same industry.

Of the managers and owners we talked with, there were many different types and levels of experience:

Outside Sales Reps

Jewelry Wholesale Business Owners

Recent University Graduates

Marketing and Networking Specialists

Property Managers

Attorney and Real Estate Developers

Hospitality Workers

Jewelers

Accountants

Client Service Representatives

Interior Designers

What a list!

With this variety of experiences and expertise, we are able to approach challenges and difficulties with different view points and solutions giving the group a great opportunity to collaborate, share knowledge, and grow together.

After mentioning what they did before owning or managing a space, each person also shared their greatest challenge with the hope of being able to connect each other to people that have gone through or are facing similar challenges.

For some of the newer or not yet open spaces, branding, creating processes, and building stable businesses were frequently mentioned.

For the larger and more established spaces, creating processes and managing roles were frequently cited as challenges along with expanding into second, third, or more new locations.

It was fantastic to see how many parallels could be made between organizations that were in the process of growing their first coworking space and establishing their economic foothold, and those that were looking to add more locations.

Even better, the newer owners and managers had the opportunity to pick the brains of those that have come before them to avoid making the same mistakes.

Let’s stand on the shoulder of giants!

Connecting Coworking Spaces Locally and Across Cities

As many know, the coworking industry is still a disconnected group of spaces locally and around the world.

Even if an alliance or organization is developed to bring coworking spaces together in a particular city, they are often not connected between cities.

There are also a number of online visa or passport services that allow people to buy passes to try out a new space or multiple spaces but these too are often only available in large cities.

Someone suggested that the idea of a passport system within a city where you pay a fee and get access to multiple spaces is too ‘cold’ and impersonal, and that some owners are wary of this type of a system. They like being able to vet their members or visitors.

Although we didn’t discuss what we believe these connections will look like in the future very much, one suggestion was to make connections for now in a manual way by meeting other owners / managers of spaces in your city. If you recognize that a new office space member is a better fit somewhere else, connect them to the other space.

Ultimately, I believe this works out best for the coworking industry as a whole.

This idea of cross pollination is powerful. For every person you send out, you are likely to have another person referred back to you. It also helps to demonstrate that you are looking out for each individual’s needs and helps create an expectation in the industry that a coworking space serves it’s members first and foremost.

Thanks again everyone for a wonderful discussion! Looking forward to next month.

What is Cowork University?

We are a supportive, inclusive, and inspiring community that achieves a level of collaboration designed to elevate the coworking conversation. The virtual meetup is an invitational gathering of international cowork creators and managers who got into coworking because they understand and align with the concept of “community first”. We connect on a monthly Zoom video chat and a 24/7 private Slack channel.

The only requirement to join us is that you must apply to become a member of Cowork University and be ready to fully participate.

You can also follow us on Twitter @coworkuniv