Coworking Europe Conference, 2015: A Look Back

Last week over 300 coworking enthusiasts came together in Milan for the 6th annual Coworking Europe conference. A combination of old and new faces, the energy was palpable as the international community gathered at BASE MILANO for the biggest event representing the coworking movement in Europe.

As always, there was a lot of talk about building communities and how to support spaces, but as the movement matures, space operators and coworkers are now looking at how to take coworking to the next level.

As the Coworking movement grows, it is starting to influence the corporate world

Deskmag presented the first round of results from the 2015-2016 Global Coworking Survey, a comprehensive analysis of coworking growth that helps space operators and coworkers really understand how far they have come. As it stands, there are around 7,800 coworking spaces worldwide housing a little more than half a million coworkers.

Corporate coworking was a topic that came up several times at this year’s event. As bigger companies are becoming inspired by the coworking model, they are starting to create their own version of shared workspaces. Neo-Nomad gave a presentation evaluating the potential of coworking for bigger companies. The results, of course, were not so surprising for those familiar with coworking, as they showed that employees were 70% more efficient and they also found a major increase in happiness.

Photos, Marco Bottani

Photos, Marco Bottani

How does coworking influences everything from work to daily life

Keynote speaker Sarah Turnbull, head of Bootstrap Company in London, touched on a topic that has been gaining traction in recent years: How do coworking spaces help improve the greater community, no matter where they are in the world. Her presentation looked at how coworking spaces are reshaping London by creating a community that is open to diversity and to having conversations about how to tackle communal issues, such as affordable space and education.

Co-living and coworking hotels are also a hot topic at the moment. Whether it’s meeting the needs of the increasing amount of digital nomads or attempting to ease the pain of crushing recent rises, coworking operators are now throwing living quarters into the mix. Co-living was a topic at the Unconference on the second day in Milan, and Hotel Schani Wein from Vienna also spoke on a panel about their latest project, which aims to be the first startup hotel in Europe.

Coworkers unite during the Unconference

As the conference grows, the amount of experienced attendees also increases, which offers newcomers a real chance to gather insight from experts in the field. This year’s unconference presented a variety of topics facilitated by the conference-goers themselves. There were around 27 topics to choose from, offering everything from how to deal with mistakes as a space operator, to information on how to apply for EU funding. Yet one of the most pressing topics of the moment was addressed, as attendees gathered to discuss how coworking spaces can offer support to those who need it most.

The co-founder of OPEN Collaborative Working Paul Keursten and Vasili Sofiadellis from the South African organization Visions2Ventures, presented their idea to create an initiative that will offer support to refugees from Syria and other countries at this year’s unconference. They are planning to create a space on the Greek island of Lesvos, where refugees can work alongside with local and international entrepreneurs, as well as investors and organizations to in order to find solutions. This initiative would also incorporate training, skills, jobs and career opportunities.

What can we expect in the future?

One indication of the incredible growth of coworking was Filip Kabeya’s video presentation of coworking in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. In July of this year, there was the first ever Coworking Africa conference, showing that communities around the world are looking to embrace social and professional change.

With the combination of a maturing coworking movement and the introduction of several new and innovative topics, we expect more attendees from around the world who will contribute to Coworking Europe as it continually shapes the way we connect, work and change our world.