Last week 5 NextSpace teamsters, 1 baby, and one daddy of the baby, attended GCUC, the Global Coworking Unconference Conference. There were close to 300 people, and over 100 spaces represented. The conversation moved from Steve King (not THAT Steve King), sharing that coworking has crossed the chasm and is now a mainstream workplace option around the globe, to Benjamin Dyett from the Grind sharing that coworking is not just for the startup crowd, but for established professionals and can, in fact, be extremely profitable, to Chris Mach from AT&T, discussing how the tools, policies, and physical environment for corporations is changing rapidly, and coworking is an option that is on the table for the first time.
At one point early on, the conference felt deflating – the venue was cold, the lighting was bad, and some of the content was repetitive from last year. Fortunately, things turned around after that, and ultimately the conference left me feeling really excited and inspired, and particularly proud of what we have created here at NextSpace. We are the largest coworking company in the country, but have managed to retain a high level of authenticity at each of our spaces, despite our size. For this, I credit Jeremy Neuner, our CEO, for instilling and continually reiterating a really strong and awesome culture. “Take your job seriously, but not yourself,” and “You’re doing a helluva job, don’t f**k it up” (with a wink and a smile), feature prominently in our daily lives.
One thing that stood out at the conference, was the amount of give and take, and the caliber of attendees. Even the newbies had a lot to contribute! I had a wonderful conversation with Mark from Plugin, a 10-day old space in the northern suburbs of Chicago. He asked if he could pick my brain, and we spent an hour reviewing his space, business model, financial model, and target audience. It was an extraordinary conversation, and I learned just as much about how a financial model can work at a small space in the ‘burbs, as Mark learned from me about best practices, things to look out for, and things to consider as he ramps up.
All in all, the messages I took away were this: Coworking is here to stay, and will only increase in quality and quantity in the coming years. The early adopters and startups are using coworking spaces, but so is everyone else, now! Corporations are also starting to really consider coworking as a viable place for their workforce. You don’t need to work at a corporate campus to be uber-productive. There is money to be made in coworking, but it needs to be planned and executed extremely carefully and should not be something you do “on the side”. Last but not least, I learned that NextSpace plays a genuinely catalytic role in the industry, helping guide best practices, showing how one can make money and scale, and pushing the bar ever higher for the quality of the experience for our members, and the underlying importance of a strong and cohesive community. Oh, and coworking is always a good reason to wear an orange wig (photo is, from left to right, myself, Benjamin from Grind, and Liz from Link Coworking).
About the Author
Before joining Nextspace, Rebecca ran a bi-coastal design firm called Tribecca Designs, that she founded in New York in 2002. In 2008, she launched the San Francisco branch, allowing her to live in her two favorite cities simultaneously. Two years later, with a goal of transitioning to life full-time in SF to spend time with the newly-found love of her life Jason, Rebecca joined the NextSpace team. Her first project was bringing the awesomeness of NextSpace, at the time residing solely in Santa Cruz to San Francisco, and later helping launch locations in LA and San Jose. 18 months after hire, Rebecca accepted the role of Chief Operating Officer to continue expanding the company, and transforming the very nature of work.
When not thinking big thoughts about NextSpace and the workplace, Rebecca spends time biking, hosting dinner parties (though this doesn’t mean she cooks often or well), knitting and crocheting (square things only, and usually with very large gauge needles and hooks), and reading any and every novel someone recommends. She lives with Jason and their two extraordinary cats in a lovely home on a high hill.