By Sarah Wilen - 21st June, 2019
The Global Coworking Unconference Conference (GCUC) is a perennial favorite of ours; we love flexible work environments! When correctly designed and managed, they can provide occupants with more choices and a higher level of service than traditional office environments. Coworking spaces also tend to place a premium on something we talk about a lot: workplace experience. The GCUC events themselves often reflect this in multiple ways. For instance, the format provides both structured learning through a day of traditional conference-style presentations and a second day of less structured day of "unconference", in which participants create their own content. It is also evident that the organizers are considering the multisensory nature of experience—this year’s GCUC took place in an opera house and included live musical performances.
A few key themes jumped out at this time around:
Ozadi founder Philip Vanhoute presented a session about wellness that also highlighted the value of multisensory design. He pointed out that noise is one of the most frequent complaints in the workplace. Features like the "Habitat" soundscape can combine technology with biophilic design to not just mask distractions, but create a more pleasant environment. He also spoke about the diversity of spaces in coworking spaces enabling Activity-Based Working. As workplaces continue to consumerize, he thinks every place in which people work will soon have ratings for productivity and satisfaction.
Niche coworking is a growing trend, as evinced by the range of spaces now available. Long-time providers like Green Space, which offers an eco-conscious environment, have recently been joined by others offering a unique take on the shared workplace. This is in response to both a desire to differentiate and growing user demand. For example, multiple providers catering specifically to women have arrived on the scene. Dori Howard of Jane Club shared how the space is designed to suit the unique needs of mothers by supporting not just childcare needs, but access to other services like flu shots and car washes.
Issues of equity, diversity, and work/life balance were woven into several discussions, including during the "Women to Watch" panel. It featured Ashley Proctor, Executive Director of 312 Main; Angel Kwiatkowski, Founder of Cohere; Amy Nelson, Founder of Riveter; and Iris Kavanaugh, co-founder of Women who Cowork. Their wide-ranging conversation addressed design elements, amenities, and policies that can enable diversity, while also addressing barriers that remain, such as access to capital and affordability for underserved communities.
The entirety of GCUC was suffused with the same sense of community that coworking strives to create. There was a strong atmosphere of mutual support and learning from one another. Once again, this event did not disappoint.
For additional coverage, please see:
AllWork — "Is the coworking market saturated?"
Small Biz Labs — Coworking Surge Continues
Essensys blog — Mile High of Coworking