There’s no doubt that the GCUC 2015 coworking (un)conference was a smashing success. Bringing together around 300 people from across the USA and further afield, it was a meeting of the minds to discuss the intricacies, challenges and opportunities that coworking faces today.
A gathering of independent projects and visions, GCUC brought us together under one common project, one shared mission: coworking. This ambiguous and open word is exactly what gave it strength at GCUC this year, where everyone’s own work could be conceived of as under one umbrella, within one superstructure.
Let’s take coworking from the springboard of GCUC to the next level. There are only open skies.
Between coworking exchanges we learned from Co-Hoots, to the awesome developments of Nexudus, to the sweet barbecue nights at Originate, to the cool tech analysis going on at Workbar, to the office shots and happy hour of New Work City, to the mission and share-the-coworking-love of the Operation Spot, to the amazing chat software being developed around the Impact Hubs, and the fantastic open-source global coworking map – we learned a lot, and can’t wait to continue working with the friends we made!
So, through all of this fun and madness – what did we learn? Here are our 3 Key Points from GCUC 2015.
3. How Do We Make Communities? Food, Booze &… Exercise!
One of the hot topics of GCUC this year is something that many people always ask: how do you make good communities happen? The answer is not so surprising… given that you could find it at work during GCUC! You make good communities through good food! With the fresh catering provided, and drinks in the tent and in the sun at Camp GCUC, we saw the formation of a good community before our very eyes!
Whether you’re sweating like crazy or chowing down on some good southern gumbo, you’re making community happen.
In an unconference session on Day 2, we discussed how food and drink brings people together, and how – if you have the right selection of people and cuisine – making a community is a natural result of family-style dinners and barbecues.
For the more sporty among us, exercise was another key component of how to bring people together in communities. From running and jogging clubs at some spaces, to cycling groups at others (and bike libraries, which we think is an awesome idea, Originate!) and even bike races (we’re looking at you, Mutinerie Village) at one – excercise puts people on the same page like food, in a very fundamental human way.
2. Let’s Cooperate. We’re all in this together !
Getting such a diverse group of space managers and coworking enthusiasts together from over thousands of miles away, proved to be a challenge that GCUC passed with flying colours.
In side conversations and chats over coffee, and in the biggest seminars and most intense unconference sessions – one could sense the idea that, in one way or another, we’re all in this together. Yes, we all are businesses doing business. Yes, we all are in the same industry and sometime in the same cities. Yes, we all are service providers aiming to achieve some kind of margin.
But – a sense of awakening came across certain groups during chats, like “hang on one second – actually, if we cooperated more, we could both compete *better* and benefit the both of us!“ And this is a sentiment that was echoed in multiple moments of GCUC. It was the very Zen “letting go” moment of realising, “Actually, if I let my coworkers visit and discover other spaces – and vice versa – we’re going to find happier coworkers, and build stronger, healthier relationships with our clients and competitors!”
And, at the end of the day, this sense of “all-in-this-togetherness” extended even more broadly in the recognition that we’re out there to build coworking as a proud and independent movement, against those certain “co-offices” of he-who-must-not-be-named…
1. To Remix Is To Create
And, finally, as the founder of coworking Brad Neuberg said in his presentation, “Steal this idea, remix it, make it your own. Let other people expand your ideas.” This underscored a lot of what we saw at GCUC: people experimenting with the coworking model uniquely in hundreds of towns and cities across America.
We can say with certainty that the creative and inventive template of “coworking” is alive and well in the USA! We saw new communications technologies, media platforms, management softwares, event ideas, global meetups, hardware solutions, and funding opportunities popping up in almost every conversation (“oh, have you heard of TownSquare?” or, “wow, you have *got* to try Notion Community!” or, “you need to work with New Worker Magazine on that project!”).
It’s an exciting moment for coworking. As Jacob Sayles pointed out in his presentation on Coworking By The Numbers, the movement is continuing to grow in its spread and in its diversity. Let’s ride the tide and keep innovating, keep connecting, keep mobilising.
Let’s take coworking from the springboard of GCUC 2015 to the next level. There are only open skies.