On the 8th of May 2023, coworking and coliving professionals and enthusiasts from all over Spain (and beyond) gathered in Valencia to attend the 12th edition of the Coworking Spain Conference that took place on the 9th and 10th of May.
The first event of this year’s CWSC was the casual meetup set in Fabrica del Hielo, an old ice factory right on the gorgeous Valencian city beach.
Travel & Tapas arrived on the 8th, like most folks, and headed out to the Fabrica del Hielo to have a few drinks and check out the atmosphere of this year’s CWSC.
To welcome the guests and attendees, there was Manuel Zea, one of the founders and organizers of the Coworking Spain Conference. Manuel proved to be an amazing host, welcoming all guests with smiles and warmth as if he was welcoming us to his home.
The night went on for a few hours, but after a few drinks and good talks, we called it a night. Of course, we wanted to be fresh and ready for the real deal tomorrow morning – and we know that’s what you’re here to read about so, let’s dive in – but, first, let us tell you about the venue.
Table of Contents Hide
- The venue and organization
- Our favorite sessions
- Other sessions we enjoyed
The venue and organization
The conference took place at the cultural-sport complex La Petxina, located on the outskirts of the city center.
The venue was addressing the needs of the conference, providing ample space for networking and comfortable surroundings for attendees, as well as two conference rooms.
The organizers made a concerted effort to cater to non-Spanish speakers by ensuring that 80% of the sessions were available in English. This made the conference more inclusive and accessible, allowing attendees from diverse backgrounds to benefit from the knowledge and insights shared during the event.
In between the rooms, there was a large area for networking with coffee and snacks available throughout the day, as well as an expo zone for the conference sponsors.
What we most liked about the venue was that, even though it was very professional, it also provided a comfortable relaxed atmosphere that encouraged connections, handshakes, and sharing conversation over a hot coffee.
Our favorite sessions
Each year, CWSC delivers an incredible and diverse program for the coworking industry and this year was not any different.
As a media platform for coliving in Spain, our interest fell a bit more on those sessions that were a bit closer to the world of coliving.
Coliving and coworking worlds can be incredibly close or incredibly far away from one another, depending on their location, type, target customers, and many other factors. In that sense, we can find a lot of similarities when it comes to management in some coliving.
So, some of our favorite sessions at this year’s CWSC delivered insights and tips relatable and valuable for both industries – coworking, and coliving.
The Anatomy of Coliving: Jon Hormaetxe
We began our focus on coliving with a session on the “Anatomy of Coliving” delivered by Jon Hormaetxe, a renowned coliving experience designer and co-founder of one of the oldest nomad colivings in Spain.
Jon started the session by sharing some insightful statistics regarding the living situation in Spain and the prevalence of coliving arrangements in the country. He showcased how coliving is a growing trend and an important solution for social challenges faced by many people in Spain.
Jon introduced the concept of coliving and shared some definitions, inviting the audience to share their opinions on what constitutes coliving and sharing his own opinions on different definitions. Different answers from the audience only emphasized Jon’s most valuable point and that is the importance of differentiating between types of coliving spaces. He then shared his knowledge of how to distinguish different spaces and their customers based on the average length of stay and the level of community connections in the space.
Jon also provided examples of various solutions, including Nomad coliving, Rural coliving, and different types of Residential colivings.
Overall, Jon’s presentation was engaging, informative and insightful. He shared his vision of the future of coliving and coworking, providing valuable insights for anyone interested in the industry.
Rural Coworking Roundtables
During the second day of the CWSC, attendees had the opportunity to participate in two engaging roundtables that focused on the topic of rural coworking. As we previously mentioned, rural coworking solutions are gaining popularity, but there are still some challenges that need to be addressed for this business model to be sustainable.
The roundtables highlighted the importance of collaboration between the private and public sectors, with suggestions such as organizing events with public libraries or using public spaces. The speakers shared their experiences of not having public sector support initially, but after demonstrating the positive impact of their work in bringing people to the villages, the support changed.
The main goal behind rural coworking is to bring back talent to the villages, as many young people leave for urban areas for better work infrastructure. Remote work and improved infrastructure could help reverse this trend.
The speakers also acknowledged challenges such as limited transportation in rural areas and difficulty in marketing their spaces.
To overcome these challenges, they shared strategies like creating rural coworking networks and a specific strategy called a rural pass, which allows people to switch between rural and urban coworking spaces.
The speakers also emphasized the need to proactively market rural coworking spaces by educating people about what coworking is and how it can be used. They pointed out that no one will understand what a coworking space is unless they are informed about it, so it’s important to go out and approach people to educate them.
Overall, the rural coworking roundtables provided valuable insights into the challenges and opportunities of this business model and highlighted the importance of collaboration and proactive marketing to make rural coworking sustainable.
An interactive roundtable on conflict resolution
The final session of the conference was a highly engaging and interactive roundtable discussion on conflict resolution, where attendees openly shared their experiences and anecdotes as coworking operators.
The conversation covered a wide range of topics, including dealing with strange requests, struggles faced by female operators in being taken seriously, disrespectful behavior, non-payment of fees, conflicts between coworkers, and setting boundaries with long-term coworkers who have become friends.
What set this roundtable apart was the level of participation from the audience, which made it the most engaging session of the conference. The discussion was honest, raw, and at times even funny, reminding all the attendees that such problems are a part of operating a coworking space.
We believe that more of these interactive formats would be extremely beneficial for future conferences, as they provide a valuable opportunity for networking and learning from one another’s experiences.
Other sessions we enjoyed
Despite not being directly related to coliving, there were other sessions that we found particularly engaging.
IOS Office: Leading the industry in Mexico by Javier García Iza
“IOS Office: Leading the industry in Mexico” was one such session, where Javier García Iza, CEO of IOS OFFICES, shared an honest and humble story of their journey from opening a single space to becoming the industry leader in Mexico.
This inspiring session served as a reminder to new entrepreneurs to remain patient and steadfast, as success often takes time and effort. García Iza also emphasized the importance of maintaining a passion (and happiness) for one’s work as that is what customers will recognize.
Space as a Service: Spaces under Management by Óscar García Toledo
Another session we enjoyed was the session entitled “Space as a Service: Spaces under Management,” during which Óscar García Toledo, CEO of First WorkPlaces, provided insightful tips on the advantages of acquiring a management contract instead of renting a space for operators.
He outlined the necessary steps to take and emphasized the importance of considering legal and financial implications during the negotiation process.
Additionally, he shared his company’s successful approach to acquiring management contracts and discussed crucial elements to include in the contract when making a contract with a landlord. His expertise provided invaluable guidance to attendees, making the session feel like a comprehensive consultation filled with concrete advice.
State of Coworking in Spain 22-23 by Manuel Zea
Lastly, an additional compelling session was “State of Coworking in Spain 22-23,” presented by Manuel Zea, the CEO of CoworkingSpain.es.
The session included extensive data on around 1000 coworking spaces in Spain, covering aspects such as their geographic locations, quantity, occupancy rates, comparisons with other Spanish cities, variations in space types, payment options, and more, which was incredibly insightful.