Coworking spaces should be run by cooperatives
This afternoon, as a result of being tagged in a LinkedIn thread, I ended up spending a couple of hours at an event local to me about rural coworking. There were some interesting people there, but only two of us who weren’t from organisations in some way affiliated with the project.
I am aware that I’m getting ever-deeper into the world of co-operatives, but I couldn’t for the life of me understand why the default position wasn’t that coworking spaces should be run by cooperatives?
The assumption seemed to be that to be financially viable, coworking spaces had to have a for-profit organisation behind them. While they talked about the importance of community and how crucial it is for the success of the enterprise, until I mentioned it the thought that maybe that community could own the coworking space didn’t seem to come up.
It was a pleasant enough way to spend an afternoon, even if it did take me away from paid client work. However, I couldn’t help but leave with a slightly bitter taste in my mouth when I discovered in the last five minutes of the meeting that their project funding runs out in a couple of months. I hope I’m wrong, but it doesn’t seem like there’s going to be much in the way of tangible outputs.
Perhaps it was because I’d just finished helping facilitate a session for the newly-formed workers.coop member learning group but I couldn’t help but think that co-ops would approach this differently. Sadly, when I did a quick search for cooperatively owned and run coworking spaces I couldn’t seem to find any other than Space4 in the UK.
So this is a reminder to myself to investigate further, and a call for anyone reading this to prove me wrong. I hope there’s a flourishing scene out there, along with a guidebook on how to get started for those interested!
Image: output from the session (have a guess who was the basis for this persona!) 😉