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GCUC Canada Coworking Conference 2017

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“Coworking is not about desks, WiFi or Coffee. It’s about people.” – Ashley Proctor, GCUC Canada 2017

Day 1: Conference

This was my first GCUC Canada Conference and I was very, very excited. Coworking conferences are the place where I get inspiration and connection, where we can hang out with like-minded people and geek out about Coworking for 3 days straight. This Coworking thing is growing, maturing and it’s here to stay. We’re seeing Coworking pop up in lots of different forms and we got to hear about these at the conference;  

  • Coworking with Childcare
  • Coworking in Shopping Malls
  • Rural ‘Outpost’ Coworking
  • MakerSpaces are on the rise
  • Coworking in Airports

Basically, Coworking is aiming for world domination.

This year GCUC was held at 312 Main in downtown Vancouver. The building (the former Vancouver Police headquarters) is still under construction, and while we sat in an unfinished, raw space, it was welcoming and cozy. This set the tone for the following two days. When 312 Main is completed it’s going to be incredible, I mean, it already is, but holy moly I’ve never heard or seen or heard of anything like it. 100,000 square feet of community-driven, inclusive, beautiful and carefully thought out space. Hats off to the team working on this project. I had the pleasure of touring the space myself on day 3 of the conference, which was led by the dynamic and inspiring Ashley Proctor. We walked through floors of former holding cells, shooting ranges and marveled at the transformation taking place. If you like coworking or just cool stuff in general, check out the project for yourself!     

Day one of the conference was the usual conference fare of icebreakers, awesome panels, and generally inspiring talks. Carsten from Deskmag gave us the rundown on members behavior and what trends we’re seeing. Read more about it here. Fun fact – 41% of our communities are made up of Freelancers! The Women Who Cowork made their debut by honoring and highlighting female pioneers in the Coworking industry. We also saw vibrant panel discussions on The Future of Work as well as a panel on Coworking spaces across Canada. We got to hear some unique insights when members of local coworking spaces were invited to speak on a panel. We don’t often hear from the members at these conferences and this was an interesting and unique perspective. It’s great to hear how coworking is affecting the lives and businesses of those who are joining our spaces. It’s what pushes the industry to keep growing and also spreads awareness. We rounded out the day with happy hour at Vancouver’s revolving restaurant. Coworking people + happy hour = a very, very happy, happy hour!   

Happy Hour!

Day 2: Unconference.

I’ve participated many coworking unconferences, but this was different. It was a whole room of people showing up, being vulnerable and working on topics together. As you sat in the room, you could hear snippets of conversation popping up and there was a lot of “how can I help you with that?” and “What do you need to make this work?” We had 5 sessions over the course of the day. There were so many great and varied topics covered and the highlights (for me) were talking with the Women in Coworking group, hearing feedback about Technology for coworking spaces and learning that smaller town (or commuter) Coworking is on the rise. The great thing about participating in these conferences is the chance to sit and listen and hear where we’re going as an industry. We learn so much about what our coworking operators and owners are looking for, and then we have the opportunity to turn that into something practical that’s reflected in our technology. We do our best work when we listen.

Thank you to the GCUC team for putting together another conference, can’t wait for the next!