Philipp Hentschel
by Philipp Hentschel

Coworking Conference 2014

300 attendees, 6 days, 1 camp, many impressions

This is our personal review of 2014’s conference about coworking, proworking and new business models.

Lisbon has been an amazing place for a time packed with talks and presentations all about innovative work models. Everybody who knows this city can tell how beautiful it gets with its narrow streets, fresh ocean air, typical tile houses and vibes that remind us of San Fran. It has been a perfect mix of attending the conference and spending a few days all around the town.

Hotspot Copass Camp

For the first time the Copass Crew organized a camp. It took place at the 600 sqm „Lost Lisbon“. A spacious flat with lots of Portuguese charm and an ocean view towards the bridge. So it could offer enough space to accommodate 25 international members from Russia, Italy, Spain, Croatia, France, … We were surprised that we have been the only Germans though. During our stay, we could gain many insights of the Freelancers Movement in Croatia, Google Campus, TED talks & Copass itself. 

It’s been a great experience full of tasty dinners, surf tours, interesting talks and flat parties. No doubt that it’s been the best decision to attend the camp.


The hotspot of the conference, Copass Camp based at "Lost Lisbon"


The conference

The conference was located at the Cinema San Jorge with a three day program. In the beginning we saw many presentations, best practice cases and the current figures of coworking provided by Deskmag. Whereas the main part consisted of bar camps and discussion panels. From our point of view, the conference venue has been better in Barcelona last year. More light, less WiFi issues and no stair sets. But most important for a conference are the topics - this year many talks pointed towards the business-side of coworking.

Basically, we noticed a lot of hints to WeWork.  So we have realized that while the Americans talked about coworking they actually pursue models that develop to vertical business centers for coworker and so called „proworkers“. Proworkers are defined as office nomads looking for flexible work spaces but don’t demand community aspects. Apart from that, we saw a few presentations of big real estate companies like DTZ and panels about corporate coworking. Additionally, XING introduced its partnership with design offices and the German „Fraunhofer Institut“ presented their new study about coworking.

Many coworking space owners don’t care about the development towards proworkers. One of the panel results was that too many proworkers reduce value of a community. If possible, they should be placed in extra work areas to provide improved work conditions. It also surfaced, that coworking spaces which have the necessary infrastructure and size can expand to those areas. All others rather invest in their community. We think that, established community spaces stay important for the coworking industry. Additionally, there will be bigger spaces for proworkers as well.

For the near future, there will be an ongoing growth regarding coworking. Therefore established spaces introduced their expansion models that range from corporations and franchise to organic growth. Great examples are the Talent Garden from Italy and the Workbar from Boston.


In our panel we have talked about: Independent workers, nomadic employees : coworking spaces to be the "exoskeleton" of the new workforce generation?


welance and the Freelancers Movement

This year we have been invited for the first time to participate at discussion panels. We could share our experience and present the brainchild welance as a model for innovative work. We have found out that coworking eases flexible ways of working for self employed people and leads into new ways of work-life balance.

During the second day, we have used the chance to present the status quo of the Freelancers Movement at a bar camp session. We have met more interested people, could collect new ideas and received generally useful feedback. Now we can move on with the next checkpoint which is the release of the second issue „The Freelancer“.  This paper will be distributed at several coworking space in Europe.


Preparation for our session, (c) Carsten Foertsch, Deskmag


Our conclusion

This trip has been worth every minute. We have met many people and coworking concepts. Finally, we could also connect with the protagonists of Berlin’s coworking scene which are Christoph from Betahaus, Thilo from Co-Up and Michael from Raumstation. We’re looking forward to meet up with you guys again. Possibly at a remote space somewhere in Brandenburg - hopefully coming summer 2015 - one of the conference insider tipps.