More than five million workers and 30,000 spaces will make up the practice of coworking by 2022 worldwide, but New Zealand still has much to learn.
That’s according to a new collective of coworking space owners and managers, who have formed the ‘Coworking Aotearoa Association’ this week.
The Association pledges to promote, advocate, and support coworking in New Zealand. They are building on calls from a 2016 Cowork Hui, which claims New Zealand needs to look domestically and overseas to see how coworking has become an industry.
According to the Coworking Aotearoa Association there are now 41 coworking operators in the country, all of which help to create a collaborative and connected business landscape.
The Association members met last Saturday at Carterton’s 3Mile coworking space to discuss and collaborate on ideas about the future of New Zealand’s coworking movement. They also discussed similar economic, social, and business impacts on coworkers and the businesses they work with.
Members from as far away as Invercargill and Tauranga travelled to the event, which also brought together smaller player as well as big names such as BizDojo.
Coworking Aotearoa Association spokesperson and 3Mile owner Marie-Claire Andrews says the new group is an important first step to bringing a voice to coworking as an industry.
She recognises that all coworking spaces have different ways of operating, but there are still fundamental coworking principles that benefit people, businesses, and communities.
“We are all conscious of the need to more effectively engage with policy makers and the business ecosystem that surrounds coworking spaces, this Association signals our intent to do just that,” says Andrews.
Kāpiti Collective’s Hannah Delaney adds that coworking is not just about sharing a space with others – it’s also about how the practice and the spaces can benefit the wider economy.
She believes coworking spaces are a hub for entrepreneurship and innovation because they attract people who are often exporting their services and bringing in money that gets spent in their local area.
“They also bring opportunities, for example, we at Kāpiti Collective recently helped launch the smartphone app Nowsnapp. Based in Hong Kong and France, the Nowsnapp team developed this instant services app out of Kapiti and choose to pioneer and launch it back into the community,” she explains.
“They flew the international team over, sponsoring community events and spending money in the community in the process.”
“The economic impact we are seeing on the communities in which we operate is hugely substantial,” Delaney concludes.