Why I believe in the UK Coworking Assembly - Gareth Jones
It was during lockdown in 2020 when chatting with other coworking operators all over the country that I first started to appreciate how the industry needs to quickly mature otherwise we were going to be at risk of continually falling between the gaps.
Bernie Mitchell and I met every year at Coworking Europe and hit it off. Our annual conversations were based on the real values of creating coworking spaces. What I love about my chats with Bernie is that he is an outsider, he can call something out if it is dumb and passionately invests his time into furthering this mission despite having no obvious vested interest.
When I first met Mike Zeidler, I felt such a sense of kinship. There are people you meet where you need to spend most of the first meeting explaining your perspective, values, purpose, and “why” - and then there are people like Mike.
Immediately we accelerated to the “so what?” - how do we play a role in supporting this emerging industry.
My motivation for being a part of the UK Coworking Assembly is that I have no doubt that coworking spaces will become a significant piece of social infrastructure in the years to come. They might not be known as coworking spaces, a new name or identity might emerge, but communities need commons. Spaces which are inclusive, which are steered and led by their users, and that create an opportunity for people to talk about big ideas, challenge common perceptions, and start to build new things.
These spaces will allow people to create better occupations, better lifestyles, and connect better with their neighbours.
I’m lucky to have been involved with a number of successful coworking spaces over the last decade - successful in terms of commercial sustainability but more importantly, social value.
I’m now CEO of a B Corp called TownSq which is concentrating on creating community-focussed spaces. We operate across the UK, and it wasn’t until centre number 9 that we launched in London.
In the next decade, there will be coworking spaces appearing in every town across the UK, not to mention the world. If we can learn one lesson from the last decade, we will recognise that people already have an idea in their minds of what coworking is, and it isn’t always so positive.
As an Assembly, I hope that we are able to corral a network of operators who share our community-focussed values, and assist them in creating significant impact for their members.
We believe we will do this through a number of core activities:
- Raising the profile of coworking spaces
- Helping coworkers to find great spaces to enable them to work closer to home
- Create resources and support people to create better spaces
If you believe in the need for better community infrastructure and the coworking mission, get in touch. We need all the help we can get.