Coworking & The Problem of Real Estate

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What happens when a mayor, a Copasser and a Domino walk into a bar?

Naturally – they (being Tony, myself and Alex) converse over the future of coworking and entrepreneurship.

What’s the problem? Coworking, currently, is a social model based on the realities of real estate. People associate coworking with a physical place, where through a set of practical procedures they get to the space, do their work, make some friends, go to events, have some food, and then go home.

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The getting-out and the going-home are not the problem (after all, coworkers should have their own lives!) But the question, the three of us think, is this: how do we bring the social models of coworking spaces outside of the real estate practicalities they rely on?

We’ve found there are many solutions, that can work in tandem with each other. In combination, we can extract the social from the confines of real estate, to make something truly amazing possible on a global scale.

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There’s no magic pill for this, but instead a cooperative and supportive network of ideas, tools and ecosystems can make this a reality. Here’s our three offerings to this problem, and how they can work together:

1. Indie Cities

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The concept of incubation is no longer settled in the confines of a space.

This is an initiative to develop and promote self-organised, networked support systems for anyone who takes work into their own hands as a freelancer, or an independent. Because, of course freedom is great – but it also has its downsides. Lack of institutional support or a community of like-minded people can make working independently quite difficult.

Indie Cities could, at this stage, be considered a community incubator. Like most incubators work to assist a community of projects, startups and people, this one goes further as the concept of incubation is no longer settled in the confines of a space. It will serve to help existing communities function better and to have a greater impact in the city around them.

Currently, the project has New Work City (in its newer form resident at Tanooki Labs), Cotivation (a support programme for coworking community organisers) and IndieCon: Toronto (a joint conference with GCUC in Canada).

2. Copass

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Communities are greater than the sum of spaces that contain them.

Chances are, if you’re reading this blog post, you’ve heard of us. To keep it short and sweet, Copass is an initiative with very similar passions and a shared vision, but helping develop city-wide and global communities through the power of connecting spaces that already exist.

We endeavour to create circulation between spaces, to optimise the exchange of knowledge, contacts, people, moments, opportunities and experiences that coworking spaces – as practical serendipity machines – already circulate inside their spaces so efficiently.

Our vision is also based on the premise that, at the end of the day, communities are greater than the sum of spaces that contain them. We’re about catalysing the growth of communities around the world in order to benefit everyone, by expanding our circles of daily communication, recognition and business outside of our usual, very comfortable, comfort zones.

3. Domino

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A flat, global social system that fits new ways of living and working.

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This is a project started by entrepreneur Alex Singh, aiming to connect freelancers from all around the world – and in your city. The idea is simple: it’s a global support network for freelancers, by freelancers. A peer-to-peer online community hosted on Slack that is designed to transplant the social support from coworking spaces onto the global interweb.

With channels for jobs, Q&A and resources – it’s a resource to tap into when you need support for your project. A project currently in its early stages, it is a way to bring people together over subjects that matter with advice that makes a difference. It is a flat global social system that fits our new ways of living and working.

Domino has a future organised by unlocking the social power offered by new socialising softwares such as Slack, as a means of easily and quickly connecting many people over similar subjects in efficient and streamlined ways.

Better Together, Future(s) Of Coworking

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The thing that unites these three projects is, in a sense, how each one challenges the status quo model of coworking-as-real-estate. It takes the benefits that we’ve gained from organising and working in coworking spaces outside of the space itself, and planted it in new technologies, new means of self-organisation and new actionable visions of the future.

At Copass, this has been at the heart of our mission since day 1. To imagine a better world without walls, a more connected world where people have the power to connect themselves to others that matter. What we’re doing is building a tool to facilitate this new kind of social interaction across spaces, across cities and across continents.

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With this tool, we’ve seen already many cases of people self-organising in new ways. Whether they’re being hosted by a Copasser in one city, or finding a new client who’s a Copasser in another, or finding a business (or life) partner through a Copass Camp or Cospace on one side of the world or another – we want to transcend the limits of coworking as real estate to provide a real, global social model that develops from the network we’re facilitating.

To this end, when we see other projects like Domino and Indie Cities – we get excited to find other people who share our vision for the future. It’s a validation of practice, where we see similar foundations being laid down by others with new technologies and means of self-organising. Collaborating and building from the best of these models, let’s build a future that’s better together.

A future of coworking not constrained by collective spaces, but rather empowered by collaborative societies.

**Based off of a dinner conversation between myself, Tony Bacigalupo and Alex Singh. And yes, in case you were wondering, the food was delicious.**

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