Monthly Archives: November 2011

Coworking could be the most impactful trend of the coming decade

We turned off the lights of the second Coworking Europe conference a few days ago.

Besides the wonderful spirit and the incredible energy we experienced during these outstanding three days, one strong impression remains from all the discussions we had  : Coworking is becoming huge ! 

Coworking to shape the coming decade 

More than 220 people, originating from the five continents, gathered in Berlin.

If Europe was the most represented, an important North American delegation attended the event, alongside representatives from Asia, South America and the Middle East.

Coworking is not marginal anymore nor is it a western phenomenon. Coworking is a solution which naturally and independently arises in different locations of the world. It sounds like a common answer to emerging needs in the our fast changing economies and societies.

Accordingly, my conviction is that coworking is not only there to stay and grow. Coworking will be one of the most impactful trend that will shape the coming decade.

Similarities with the expansion of the internet

As a matter of facts, the short history of Coworking reminds us of some identical milestones of the early days of the internet.

Internet, just like Coworking, emerged out of a handful of isolated initiatives led by small groups of people motivated by different purposes. One day, those actions converged. The US Army was investigating the way to build a resilient communication and information infrastucture which wouldn’t be interrupted in the case of a damage in the physical network. Besides, universities had the need for a more convenient way to share knowledge and documents between academics. Many usages popped up with time. One day, Tim Berners Lee and other pioneers managed to connect everything. The internet, as we know it, was born.

The coworking movement surfaced, according to some consensus, simultaneously, in San Francisco and London. In 2005, developers in the Bay Area had a need for a new location to meet and get rid of the burden that was working out of a coffee shop. In London, the initiators of The  Hub  network, wanted to set up a platform and a community for social entrepreneurs. In the meantime, other players around the world had the idea to create – either as a side project, as a non for profit association or as a regular business – open platforms where nomad workers could drop in, either . One day, all these independent communities acknowledged they were part of a bigger one : coworking.

The common name and the values shared by the coworking promoters helped to build bridges between coworking spaces on the national and on the international level. In a way, the shared values of coworking (openness, collaboration, innovation, entrepreneurship, freedom, sustainability,…) are the TCP/IP and HTML of the coworking movement, the common understanding allowing the nodes to connect with one another.

a new way of working in the 21st century

Both, the internet and coworking, have grown thanks to the support of free, verry committed and value driven people.

Nevertheless, nowadays, as Alex Hillman puts it, coworking is not anymore in the hands, solely, of altruistic entrepreneurs or associations, although their role as pioneers is and will remain critical (just as the role of the “sharing driven” open source developers remain critical for the improvement and the strengthening  of the internet).

In the coming future, I expect Coworking to be more understood as a “new way of working”, a new way to set up inspirational working environment based on human factors, people openness and a collective will to achieve exciting things as well as to enjoy a meaningful professional life.

So, it’s likely that coworking will steadily spread out to new layers of the economical landscape, maybe under different shapes (“hybrid coworking“, or, as Sebastian Olma nicely writes :”something between between anti-corporate activism and Goldman Sachs investment banking” ?).

A matter of style and tastes

Alex Hillman compares the broadening scope of styles in coworking spaces with the variety we have in music. Individuals can enjoy jazz more than classical, listen to pop instead of esoteric… We all know these different styles belong to a bigger thing which is music.

I fully agree. I would add that tastes change.

I can, one day, be in a mood where I will be keen to listen to a rap. The day after, I could be looking for an opera soundtrack. Just as I will pick an Italian restaurant, one day, and go for a Japanese combo the day after…

Accordingly, the challenge of the multi-membership (individuals being members of a bunch of different coworking communities) could possibly arrive on the agenda of the coworking community, as well.

Coworking answering different challenges of our time – A list

So, why will coworking become a structuring trend of the coming decade  ?

According to me, due to the economical, cultural and societal shifts of the current time…  Here, is a list of reasons, I see,, partly inspired by the conference’s speaches :

The rise of the independent workforce

As the Emergent Research study showed during the Coworking Europe 2011 conference, the rise of the independent workforce is structural (at least, within the western world). Even more striking, the majority of the independent workers and entrepreneurs choose to become independent. They will need locations to meet, work and network.

New open innovation models

The technology is getting every day more complex. Innovation cycles shorten. Big companies are always more risk averse. Most of them can’t dance in a time of agility. Innovation is already coming from the outside, especially from startups and creative individuals. As the Otto Group company said, during the conference, coworking spaces can both play a role as trends watchers and serve as a bridge between innovators and big organisations.

The quest for a new corporate contract and for new corporate values

Not working “for” but working “with”. “Consider employees or freelances not as a ressrouce but as partners”, underlined Mutinerie. The economy is becoming more and more collaborative. So business organisations will (cfr Seats2meet presentation as well). Again, coworking sounds like the perfect platform/ecosystem to transform a human organisation into a more collaborative platform.

The integration of the GenY

The “twenty something” are turning their back to the traditional corporate model. They intend to be respected. They don’t tolerate to be yelled at by a boss just for the reason he or she is the boss… Nowadays, the perfect spot for them to work seems to be… a coworking space.

The emergence of a global “startupsphere”

We are at an age of rising micro-multinationals. What do you do, if you are a startup and need to expand abroad fast to breakeven, according to your business plan ? Ok, you can browse the web. But beyond that? What if you know no-one outside the walls of your city ? The coworking network is a community of communities where you will be able to get, at least, advices and connections, if not support. Nice to say, less obvious to achieve, however, warned us Liu Yan, from Shanghai (Xindanwei). Building a business, locally or internationally, is first a matter of trust building and, more and more, of sharing. Start with that. With respect to that, the coworking movement can help.

Need to bring the creative economy in cities and to interconnect local ecosystems

Coworking spaces create local ecosystems wich help to connect organically many players in a given town or city, much more efficiently than many other public intiatives with the same aim. The Berlin city, for instance, confirmed its interest regarding the impact coworking can have in the bridging of the local communities.

Jean-Yves Huwart

Coworking Europe 2011 conference initiator and co-organiser

Deskmag 2nd Global Coworking Survey


Overview of the Coworking Europe 2011 via tweets, blog posts, pictures and videos

    1. November 6, 2011 1:57:54 AM EST
  1. RT @Mazenh: #coworkingeu: imagine a discussion between #egypt #china #netherlands #france #germany #usa all those talents in 1 room! unbelivable values
    November 4, 2011 9:58:33 PM EDT
  2. RT @22a22cowodesign: it’s as simple as this: “people want to work with other people” #coworkingeu Ramon Suarez from @BetaGroup states.
    November 7, 2011 12:43:49 PM EST
  3. Sex, Coworking, & Rock ‘n Roll: #coworkingeu
    November 8, 2011 10:35:15 AM EST
  4. “It’s not about place, it’s about people RT @EuropeCoworking: Coworking Europe 2011 conference : #coworkingeu
    November 8, 2011 4:05:23 AM EST
  5. We’re creating coworking so that it can exist. It doesn’t matter who’s doing it. #coworkingeu
    November 8, 2011 1:55:13 PM EST
  6. A great experience in Berlin at #coworkingEU!
    November 5, 2011 8:11:15 AM EDT

  1. Bienvenidos a todos nuestros nuevos amigos despues del intenso fin de semana en #coworkingeu. Welcome our new…
    November 6, 2011 6:46:52 PM EST


  1. November 6, 2011 1:52:43 AM EST
  2. November 10, 2011 2:42:25 PM EST
  3. November 1, 2011 8:36:00 AM EDT
  4. November 6, 2011 1:52:29 AM EST
  5. November 7, 2011 8:56:43 AM EST
  6. November 10, 2011 2:42:25 PM EST
  7. November 6, 2011 1:52:57 AM EST
  8. November 10, 2011 5:13:36 AM EST
  9. Coworking Conference 2011 (Berlin) – Day 1 (1/2)
    November 4, 2011 6:02:54 AM EDT
  10. RT @deskmag: First results of the 2nd Global Coworking Survey: #coworking #coworkingEU
    November 5, 2011 10:48:43 PM EDT
  11. November 10, 2011 2:42:59 PM EST
  12. Coworking Conference 2011 (Berlin) – Day 2 (1/2)
    November 5, 2011 5:48:55 AM EDT
  13. November 10, 2011 2:50:01 PM EST
  14. November 10, 2011 6:14:19 AM EST
  15. November 10, 2011 2:43:08 PM EST
  16. RT @maxthemonkey: I need the mayor to come my event and say “what this people do is amazing”. That’s what we need from government. #coworkingeu
    November 6, 2011 1:32:47 PM EST
  17. November 10, 2011 5:13:36 AM EST
  18. interested to know the first thing everyone attended #coworkingEU will do in his/her space ? personally, having a lot 🙂
    November 6, 2011 1:09:55 PM EST
  19. November 10, 2011 2:42:59 PM EST
  20. November 10, 2011 2:42:25 PM EST

    November 7, 2011 8:56:55 AM EST
  22. The #coworkingeu state of mind continues in my Cowo space, where today we welcome a team of developers from Poland! 🙂
    November 7, 2011 5:41:29 AM EST
  23. November 6, 2011 1:52:18 AM EST
  24. November 10, 2011 6:14:19 AM EST
  25. November 10, 2011 2:43:08 PM EST
  26. Cowoking, ¿opción de futuro?
    November 10, 2011 1:06:14 PM EST
  27. November 6, 2011 1:53:25 AM EST
  28. November 10, 2011 6:14:19 AM EST
  29. RT @JeanYves: Ce que les entreprises peuvent apprendre du Coworking (via @MutinerieCrew) #coworkingeu
    November 9, 2011 6:03:27 AM EST
  30. RT @alexknowshtml: Loving Oliver’s talk on designing coworking spaces. “It’s not about asking people what they want, it’s about engaging them.” #coworkingeu
    November 7, 2011 7:35:23 PM EST
  31. November 10, 2011 2:45:57 PM EST
  32. November 10, 2011 6:14:19 AM EST
  33. November 10, 2011 6:14:19 AM EST
  34. November 10, 2011 6:14:19 AM EST
  35. November 6, 2011 1:53:41 AM EST
  36. RT @DCollab: Here we go! Let’$ talk about the dirty word, Money, money! @theliuyan #CoworkingEU
    November 6, 2011 11:17:44 PM EST
  37. RT @dermotegan: Corporates r using co-working spaces as a tool to experiment and rapid prototype in a way that they cannot do internally #coworkingeu
    November 8, 2011 4:20:00 AM EST
  38. Paris and Philly chatting in Berlin! This is #coworkingeu spirit! Cc @alexknowshtml @MutinerieCrew @EuropeCoworking
    November 8, 2011 7:13:44 PM EST
  39. Comment aider à rendre les réunions créatives: post-it, Lego, pâte à modeler! Cc @CLUBOFFICE #coworkingeu
    November 8, 2011 7:11:26 PM EST
  40. November 6, 2011 1:58:57 AM EST
  41. November 6, 2011 1:55:06 AM EST
  42. November 6, 2011 1:55:42 AM EST
  43. November 6, 2011 1:55:56 AM EST
  44. We’re excited about mainstream. We fear mainstream. #coworkingeu
    November 8, 2011 6:04:19 PM EST
  45. November 6, 2011 1:53:06 AM EST
  46. November 10, 2011 2:42:59 PM EST

    November 7, 2011 8:55:52 AM EST
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    November 7, 2011 8:56:25 AM EST
  50. November 6, 2011 1:54:41 AM EST
  51. November 6, 2011 1:55:29 AM EST
  52. November 10, 2011 2:42:25 PM EST
  53. November 10, 2011 6:14:19 AM EST
  54. Coworking Conference 2011: DAY ONE
    November 10, 2011 2:45:57 PM EST



    November 7, 2011 8:56:40 AM EST
  2. November 6, 2011 1:58:36 AM EST
  3. RT @dariobanfi: It’s not about place, it’s about people! (my article for italian newspaper about #coworkingeu)
    November 9, 2011 5:29:05 AM EST
  4. November 6, 2011 1:58:12 AM EST
  5. November 6, 2011 1:56:22 AM EST
  6. November 10, 2011 2:45:57 PM EST

    November 7, 2011 8:55:49 AM EST

    November 7, 2011 8:55:41 AM EST
  9. November 10, 2011 2:45:57 PM EST
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  11. November 10, 2011 2:45:57 PM EST
  12. November 6, 2011 1:59:39 AM EST
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  14. November 6, 2011 2:00:21 AM EST
  15. November 10, 2011 2:42:25 PM EST
  16. November 10, 2011 2:49:41 PM EST
  17. November 10, 2011 2:42:25 PM EST
  18. November 10, 2011 2:42:25 PM EST
  19. November 10, 2011 2:50:01 PM EST
  20. November 11, 2011 10:34:06 AM EST

  21. Coworking Conference 2011 (Berlin) – Day 1 (2/2)
    November 4, 2011 7:38:58 AM EDT
  22. Coworking Conference 2011 (Berlin) – Day 2 (2/2)
    November 8, 2011 6:24:03 AM EST
  23. Berlin 2011, seeking the future of work
    November 9, 2011 3:43:04 AM EST
  1. Brainstorming 003″ session… Design like a promote of users!!… #coworkingeu
    November 5, 2011 7:37:51 AM EDT
  2. Differentiate more by creating more. #coworkingeu
    November 8, 2011 2:40:09 PM EST
  3. November 10, 2011 2:50:01 PM EST
  4. November 10, 2011 2:43:08 PM EST
  5. November 10, 2011 2:42:59 PM EST
  6. November 10, 2011 2:42:59 PM EST
  7. November 10, 2011 2:45:57 PM EST
  8. November 10, 2011 2:50:01 PM EST
  9. November 10, 2011 2:49:41 PM EST
  10. November 10, 2011 2:50:01 PM EST
  11. November 7, 2011 8:56:35 AM EST
  12. November 10, 2011 6:14:19 AM EST
  13. November 10, 2011 2:49:41 PM EST
  14. November 10, 2011 2:50:01 PM EST
  15. November 10, 2011 2:49:41 PM EST
  16. November 10, 2011 6:14:19 AM EST
  17. November 10, 2011 2:43:08 PM EST
  18. November 10, 2011 2:50:01 PM EST
  19. November 10, 2011 2:43:08 PM EST
  20. November 10, 2011 2:42:59 PM EST
  21. November 10, 2011 2:42:25 PM EST
  22. November 10, 2011 2:49:41 PM EST
  23. Congratulations to all the team of the #coworkingeu, it was a great event!! We are now full of new ideas
    November 5, 2011 8:05:24 AM EDT
  24. Just landed in Barcelona, thank’s again, miss you a lot #coworkingeu
    November 5, 2011 2:45:47 PM EDT
  25. Berlin – barcelona- moskow, still have 10 hours to get shanghai. I miss #xindanwei and my home #CoworkingEU
    November 6, 2011 11:24:37 PM EST
  26. Back in Milano. With mind, heart, vision in Berlin, Shanghai, Philadelphia, Lisbon, Brussels, Zurich, S. Francisco, Helsinki… #coworkingeu
    November 7, 2011 7:55:55 AM EST
  27. .@EDELSTALL now on its way back to Hannover.#coworkingeu was great! We’re looking forward to next year. PICS: @deskmag
    November 6, 2011 11:46:32 AM EST
  28. Berlin blues… So, this is my recipe for not being disoriented! 🙂 #coworkingeu @lisalombardibe
    November 6, 2011 1:44:45 PM EST
  29. #coworkingeu baby blues….
    November 6, 2011 3:49:49 PM EST
  30. impressions of the #coworking conference last week @CLUBOFFICE #coworkingEU
    November 9, 2011 10:25:11 AM EST
  31. #coworkingeu quelle énergie! De retour avec des milliers d’idées pour votre futur espace liégeois! Sentiment de…
    November 7, 2011 3:55:43 AM EST
  32. Todos los enlaces de noticias sobre #coworkingeu
    November 11, 2011 3:52:23 AM EST
  33. Taking advantage of my jetlagged morning to share my thoughts after #coworkingeu. “Sex, Coworking, and Rock ‘n Roll”…
    November 8, 2011 8:16:34 AM EST
  34. Resting @ home after #coworkingeu. Thanks to @betahaus @deskmag @CLUBOFFICE for great time
    November 6, 2011 5:07:32 PM EST
  35. Thank you @Cluboffice and @Betahaus for hosting the #coworkingEU you’ve been the best hosts ever, hope to see you soon
    November 6, 2011 9:34:44 AM EST
  36. @CLUBOFFICE Thanks for hosting #CoworkingEU. it was a great event and you did a great job!
    November 7, 2011 9:55:55 AM EST
  37. Wow! It has been a great time having you all in Berlin #coworkingEU. Looking forward to meet again next year… @CLUBOFFICE loves #coworking
    November 7, 2011 4:29:08 AM EST
  38. RT @betahaus: Who knows where this will be…. 😉 RT @22a22cowodesign: See you next year! #coworkingeu
    November 6, 2011 7:43:16 AM EST

Coworking Europe 2011 conference : the presentations

Cowo’s 5 questions to Jean-Yves Huwart, Coworking Europe conference’s initiator

This interview as been initialy published by Massimo Carraro, from the Cowo network, in Italy, one of the most committed player on the European Coworking scene. 

Jean-Yves Huwart is the initiator and co-organizer of the Coworking Europe Conference, both 2010 and 2011 editions.   As he himself states (see answer no. 1) the discovery of the “coworking spirit” at The Hub Brussels was a revelation for him.

From that point on, coworking has been his everyday professional state of mind.

As the organizer of two important events such as the conferences, he has accumulated a notably extensive view on coworking, in all aspects.

Awaiting to see him in Berlin in a few days, we thank Jean-Yves for sharing his points of views on the 5 questions asked by Cowo.


Has your own life changed since you practice coworking?


Definitely. And in an unexpected way.

Like many, I used to be an employee. I was lacking challenges. Three years ago, then, I left my job to start a business of my own. The goal was to speak about the new way companies could organise themselves in a flatter way, using digital social platforms, creating a better collaborative culture and developing a more motivating working environment for the Gen X and Gen Y.

As a starting entrepreneur myself, I first tried to work from home. It was a nightmare. I was losing social contacts and my productivity dropped.

Then, a new coworking space opened up nearby, the Hub Brussels. It has been a kind of a revelation. I found for myself a new working experience which could fullfill my freshly discovered needs as a starter. Moreover, regarding my activities, Coworking appeared to me as a perfect tool and mindset to address the challenges of the economy of the 21st century, which needs more interconnected innovators and entrepreneurs, while the traditional corporation model will be forced to shift to a new paradigm embracing openess, collaboration, sustainability and human values.

That’s why we decided to organise a first international conference on the topic of coworking.


Is coworking a commodity (i.e. the chance to share an office with little money) or a strategic option (i.e. a platform for all kind of sinergies)?

J. H.:

It can be both. 

For sure, it starts with the flexible model. For a pre-determined capacity (15, 20, 50 seats or more), 100, 150 or more members will likely sign up. This is the base for the community. If the tenants are there, first, for the purpose of having an office for cheap, so be it. It’s no big deal.  

Now, a coworking space can dramaticaly increase its outreach with events, facilitations, games open for non members. This generates traffic in and around the place. Eventually, hundreds of people can take part in the community via an online subscription to the newsletter and discussion on social network. 

In a classical office sharing environment, a pre-determined capacity give access to the related number of tenants or less. You meet the same people every day. This can ingrain a community spirit, of course, but never of the size and energy a genuine coworking space can support.

So, once the community is there, you have a platform to sprout almost anything: be a neutral spot for collaboration between third parties, host creative events, network with other communities localy or internationally, work as a gateway for other entrepreneurs, etc. 

After all these years of discussing, I think we should know by now if business rhymes with coworking. Does it?
J. H.:

That is one of our goal at the Coworking Europe 2011 conference.

The first Coworking conference, in Brussels, last year, helped to connect the coworking movement and its players on the European and even on the global level. The coworking movement is enterning its teen age. Nowadays, we have all kinds of coworking spaces: self-supported by one or two people, added-on to another organisation, publicly funded… Other a real businesses…

However, we have heard a lot of coworking spaces stories which shut down because they relied too much on one individual who, after two of three years of operations, ended up exhausted.

I think no matter which model you choose. If the cash flows are too low to cover one person salary, at least (on top of the running cost such as the rent or the internet connection), the space won’t be sustainable. So, coworking can be a very good business, as some have already shown in Europe or in the US. The condition for that, though, is more professionalism.


Considering the media craze, the flourishing of spaces, the many online tools coworking-related and… why not,this conference itself, do you envision the risk of tranforming coworking in a sort of bubble, where a minority just trying to make money spoils the beauty of the idea, ultimately depriving the word coworking of its true meaning?

J. H.:

We are at the beginning of a deep economical and cultural shift. 

Digital social platform are outdating the former way of coordinate teams. Innovation won’t remain forever in ghettos. Working people, especially the younger generations, demand their professional life to be fullfilling. Moreover, look at the movement of the Indignados in Europe or at the uprisings in the Arab world. Graduated people are struggling to get a first job. 

So, we know that in the future, more and more, we will have to create our own economical activity. For these reasons, my assumption is that we will need more coworking spaces around the world. As starters, freelance or even regular employees will more and more look for a human experience. So, the market will learn steadily to make the difference between real coworking spots and fake ones.


What are your feelings about coworking as a public service, just like schooling or health services?

J. H.:

A growing number of public local institutions acknowledge that the traditional tools used to develop entrepreneurship and networking in a city or a region are far from optimal in terms of impact.

The coworking experience seems a much more efficient approach to achieve the same goal. So, to me, they can perfectly support a coworking space financially. Of course, it’s better that the running of the space remain at arm length from the administration. It has to secure the space’s operational autonomy.

Jean-Yves Huwart is the founder and owner of the private think and do tank Global Enterprise.