Here’s the backstory…
How did you discover the coworking movement? We had a relatively small and tight-knit tech freelancer community in 2009, and started running jellies and other events. This led us to opening a small shared office in 2010, and later conceiving the idea of a coworking space in early 2011. Early pioneers in the global coworking movement like Chris Messina and Alex Hillman helped stoke the fire for us — there were also great spaces in Vancouver, like Network Hub and The HiVE.
What is more important to a coworking space? Design or Culture? Would really depend on the purpose of the space and the community that the space was for. In the case of coLab, culture was and is more important. Creating a strong network, and building relationships around our passions and interests ultimately gave us the most sustainable framework for a space. Much of our “design” came directly from members, who all contributed to everything from space layout, to equipment — the structure; to art, music and writing — the content. This approach means you need to take care in your communication and allow for active participation.
What do you think is the influence of technology on coworking? As with most current business/organizational models, it has influenced scale. Both the space and members benefit from increased reach and larger capacity. Whether this is a good or a bad thing, it has yet to be seen. My “rose coloured glasses” outlook leads me to believe that technology will build a stronger coworking culture worldwide, and allow spaces to adapt more quickly through distribution of knowledge and opening of resources.
What is the most important thing to your members? Oh, wow — this is a tough one with such a diverse group. Probably a tie between fresh coffee and fast internet! But seriously, I *think* that coming in to a friendly atmosphere makes all the difference in the world to our members.
What do you love most about coLab? This will make me sound wise and a bit sentimental. I love the culture and deep history of our space. I love that we have 6 years of amazing stories to tell.
What makes a coworking space endure? IMHO, it’s simple: invest in your surrounding communities. Work actively to prevent building a coworking community that’s overly ‘centred’ around itself. ‘Investing’ could mean anything from sponsoring local meetups, to joining a local nonprofit board, to picking up garbage in your neighborhood. Sustainable coworking communities are often seen as vital contributors to their city’s culture because they engage disconnected networks through positive contribution, and through that, raise their value on a municipal level.
What do you think makes Kelowna a great place for a coworking space? A strong pioneering spirit. There are so many thinkers and doers here. Very inspiring!
Some of my favorite moments at coLab…