For the first time after one year longing for it, since our 2015 General Assembly in Bern, the Coworking Switzerland Association community was invited to gather in Fribourg, last week, for the First Swiss Coworking Unconference, a.k.a. #UCcowoCH.
The day was full of rich interactions and conversations, moving chairs in circle, writing on walls, killing post-it notes, drinking coffees and beers, as any decent unconference should be. Alexandra and Samantha did a pretty good work to summarize the substantifique moelle (always bring academics to your events, they are awesome at taking meaningful notes on the spot), and I’ll do my best to walk you through my personal take-aways.
Documenting an unconference: why?
Documenting human interactions and deep professional conversations during an event never happens automagically. You need, well other dedicated humans to do it. It is a difficult, often ungrateful, most of the times forgotten, job. The very nature of an unconference, where the value and the content are created live with as much spontaneity as possible, makes it very important yet hard to capture and share afterwards. The incentive to master it is high, though: if you don’t, at the end of the day, it is just talking, not building a shared knowledge. And because you need to share those high-value conversations and feedback and field practitioners testimonies and tips with those who could not attend, to have an impact and keep building on this conversation, back into your local town/ecosystem/community/space.
The global coworking community tends to be quite good at it. Hence we tried our best to capture all the things. You will find in the slides below said summary of the unconference sessions’ results.
I’ll concentrate my comments on:
- Our branding efforts,
- Communicating our coworking values: why?,
- Romandie and coworking.ch,
- Our new upcoming work groups.
Thanks to an informal working group based on the association’s Slack, working mainly remotely on this project (big up to Sandro, Xaver, Kupfi and Priscilla) and meeting occasionally in Bern at Urbanfish Coworking, we started a couple months ago an effort to reaffirm and renew the association’s branding. You can see on this very playground.coworking.ch the state of our June Minimum Viable Product. We will keep improving it, making it the de facto coworking.ch website, over the next couple weeks.
One of the unconference’s sessions, led by Kupfi, was a good way to gather more feedback and find a final way toward our new logo, validating all the prep work through community interactions, live.
It felt also like the right momentum to align our social media presences:
- Our Facebook Page is still fb.me/coworkingCH,
- We migrated our Twitter handle from the German @cowoschweiz to the English, brand-aligned @coworkingCH,
- We started our new Instagram account @coworkingch, monitoring and pushing on the homepage of our new website the live-feed for #cowoch. Looking forward to sharing and displaying more of your awesome pics there!
Communicating our coworking values: why?
In a nutshell, because our way of working is still new and exotic for a lot of people. If you take a look at the last Deloitte Switzerland study, there is a huge practitioner gap between the ~1’500 people coworking today in Switzerland, and the potentially 2.4M who could.
How to make our values, the reasons why we cowork, more easily available and widely known? Martino from Patchwork (Renens/Lausanne) and Safak from Kleinhafen (Basel) led a definitely great session, starting from the reality of the ten diverse communities and spaces represented on the spot in the session, to gather the essence of our values, and how to spread them. You can find the end results below (clic on the post-its to expand the pic).
Romandie and coworking.ch
The Romandie group of Coworking communities tummlers and space operators, keeping the conversation up on a regular basis through a private Facebook Group, was happy to meet and talk face-to-face in Fribourg. You can see the exhausted, unhappy faces below.
We mainly agreed on the following as our goals for the next 12 months:
- We want a unified Romandie group of coworking.ch members and friends, one that produces value both to members of the association and to our friends that are not (yet), those with whom we share values and practices. Because we do not believe this young economic sector is a zero-sum game. That means we want to keep being inclusive, helping groups coming to us with new projects (like this great Neuchâtel / La Chaux de Fonds team, planning on gathering a community of makers -shared wood work and more atelier- and coworkers, you can see below),
- We need to improve our efforts regarding regional meet-ups, both internal, peer-to-peer ones, to share best practices, and open to a general audience ones, to evangelize and make ourselves more visible as a group of united professionals. The prototype of the online weekly Water Cooler Talks we started to held in English was also mentioned as a way to talk to each other more often, also in French,
- We want to explore if we can develop shared buying efforts for certain pieces of hardware or services to our members, and then scale it to the whole country whenever possible,
- We want to keep a productive, ongoing conversation with Grégoire, our new Romand Champion into the re-shuffled Board of the Association, for the greater good of the whole Swiss community.
Our new upcoming work groups
The idea behind the re-shuffle of the Association’s Board, seeing the three former Romandie Board Members stepping down, to promote the united successful candidacy of Grégoire, was for us (Kaspar, Stéphane and me) to be more efficient on the field, taking our good part of the effort to move forward relevant, active, project-based working groups. One doesn’t need to be seating on the Association’s Board for that.
Besides the current sprint to iterate around our new website, several ideas surfaced:
- Our delegation to the upcoming Coworking Europe Conference (register, you have until July 15 to do so!), and also maybe the GCUC Canada and other major community events in the Global Coworking scene, are seen as a major, needed, effort from us for community building, and faster learning thanks to the veteran global community.
- We want more coming-from-members’-needs, project-based, working groups, instead of static ones. That means we need you to speak up, and share openly about your needs. The work on this new website was driven by such conversations (the “map” part of it, e.g.)
- The idea of a “bounty system”, to incentivize better and faster implication of the members on certain urgent or strategic tasks was discussed, and has to be further explored.
- Content co-creation: we agreed on a volunteer-based short time calendar for more blogposts production, this piece being the first effort. More to come, stay tuned 😉
That’s all for today, folks. Looking forward to volunteering again for this great bunch of people that are this association’s awesome members and friends.
About the author:
Yann has been a coworking hacktivist and practitioner since 2011 & a coworking.ch volunteer since 2015. Former Board member representing Romandie 2015-2016.
More in French on his Le Temps blog #travaillerautrement