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Hello guys! We are here with another episode of the Coworking Values Podcast! And we are going to be taking all about the coworking events we had, like the Coworking Symposium and with Zeljko’s team Infostudhub, winning the recent Hack Coworking Hackathon!

We will be delving into the Hack Coworking Hackathon, the process and the dynamics of the teams that work together with to present fresh new ideas and solutions that the coworking community can benefit from while coping with the ongoing Covid19 crisis.

How was the Hackathon?

Well, actually, we formed the team before the hackathon. We applied as a team. 

I was involved in the hackathon as a team member, and as a team leader in them and it was a great experience.

I must say so the challenges were, you know, they were specific to the point that you know you know what they expected you to do, but there were so many ways that you can, you know, just implement your ideas and go wild and go outside of the box and think about new ways of doing things.


Infostud Hub

Hack Coworking


Event Manager Blog

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Bernie J. Mitchell 0:04  

Hello ladies and gentlemen, and welcome to this week’s edition of the Coworking Values podcast. And after a highly active week of coworking me and Zeljko are just here with us, we’re gonna reflect on what happened and talk about what’s coming up next.

Zeljko Crnjakovic     0:24  

This episode is brought to you by Cobot, our leading management software for coworking spaces, office hubs and flexible workspaces around the world. You know, one of the best things about cobalt is that it is produced by people who manage a coworking space and know the ins and outs are the main problems and issues, bugging coworking managers. So, if you want more time for your co-workers and community check out cobot@cobot.me and take your coworking management to the next level.

Bernie J. Mitchell 0:58  

I heard you had a win over the weekend. 

Zeljko Crnjakovic     1:00  

Yeah, actually, it was a win over the weekend, Bernie, everybody had a win, or the last week if I recall correctly. So, we won with a successful organization of the first online Coworking Symposium, and that’s kudos to all of us, you for moderating us, for technical support and of course to Marko and everybody at the University of Prague. And I think really to the Vishal Crowdfund, for basically making the online event happen. It was actually more like a, this was kind of amongst the three or four coworking conferences that we have in region, this was this could be the fourth.

Bernie J. Mitchell 1:49  

It could, I definitely had that feeling. And what I particularly liked about it, because all the gangs showed up from the other conferences, but it was that this for a long time for four years, I’ve been hanging around those research group for collaborative spaces people. And this was like the industry meets the research group for collaborative spaces. There’s a bit of academia and I hang around that group of people because I don’t want to shell out 100,000 euros to go to do a PhD for five years, but I get all the participation without the hard work. But I really appreciate it. I think it was a big step for those communities, from the coworking industry and the academia industry, if you like to get together and get to know each other a little bit more. And I really hope that they’ll join in even deeper in the Coworking Library run by Joe Carsten and Hector and that will just grow the whole industry.

Zeljko Crnjakovic     2:50  

Yeah, and I’m amazed because when we saw the COVID pandemic and every everything, There was a lot of Online events, but as we went through it, people get tired of online events. One of the main reasons that you go to conferences is you want to get out of your home and to move, but the networking part and meeting people and I know when I go to a conference, I spent half of the conference outside not actually listening to the talks, but actually meeting and talking to people. And in online conferences and webinars and everything that we organize, we see a drop in people, so we constantly see people, wanting that kind of knowledge and interaction. But, a lot of people registered and don’t show up actually, we had hundreds of people live, or several hundred people live on the conference itself.

Zeljko Crnjakovic     3:50

And the networking was great because it was constantly, chatting interaction and not only asking questions, but actually people were connecting So, that is one of the kind of big successes for me that I see that people want to actually utilize this kind of opportunity when we have these kinds of events. So maybe everybody should move from those short talks and webinars and in sales and just reflections of meetups and start organizing more complex events because they attract more people. But of course, every type of event is welcome and necessary.

Bernie J. Mitchell 4:37  

I’m with that too. I’ve been a friend of mine about 12 years ago, started a blog called Event Manager Blog. And it’s one of the few people I know this actually started a blog about a topic and it’s grown into a full blown business – and its Event Manager blog, and his name is Julius and I’ve been following that for a long time and of course when the whole COVID thing happened, Everyone just panicked in the event industry, quite rightly, and started talking about online events. I think we took a gigantic step towards achieving with the Coworking Symposium that there’s an art to how people connect before, during and after the event. And how you get people to interact and how you run another channel where people are talking in, and it is, I think it’s a skill we’re going to see the people who are really committed to their communities developing in connecting people online, because it’s a whole new world. 

Bernie J. Mitchell 5:32

So, I want to shout out here is Yan – Yan is the bearded guy you see, running around with microphones and holding screens together at Coworking Europe, and he is a big community advocate. And he started a thread in the coworking forum which we’ll put in the show notes about the symposium where people started to connect and chat and compare notes, and we can upload the talks when they become available there. So that’s another connection thing there, and it was another funny part, unsurprisingly, a couple of mistakes happened during the live broadcast. And one was when I got an acronym wrong, and I was kind of delighted and encouraged by 12 people WhatsApp me at exactly the same time and said, this is what this means. And, four of them send me articles. So, it’s as if I’m, I know, they’re trying to be helpful, but as if I’m going to stop what I’m doing and read  a 500-word article to get a grip on what’s going on.

Zeljko Crnjakovic     6:41  

Well, you could have done that while the talks were running, as a good moderator, you should have just read a couple of articles.

Bernie J. Mitchell 6:51  

I had my son standing on a chair next to me fanning me and reading information to me.

Zeljko Crnjakovic     7:00  

Like a boxer in the ring between talks, you just go into a corner and somebody flaps a towel in your face or something like that. 

Zeljko Crnjakovic     7:15  

So, one of the best things is the just the note that you just said. So, everybody could join the coworking forum, which was set up to connect people that were at the symposium but also who wanted to be at the symposium and could not. So, check that out in the show notes links. So, another thing that happened last week was actually after the symposium which was on Wednesday. Immediately on Thursday, Friday and Saturday, Coworkies had their first online coworking hackathon, which was a big success; because it evolved over 70 coworking places on basically each continent on the planet. Connecting people in basically developing new coworking ideas or solving some problems. The hackathon was in several tracks. So, people could have opted in for a technical challenge or a non-technical challenge or whatever they wanted. There were I think six or seven challenges.

Bernie J. Mitchell 8:25  

That looked like a really easy event to organize. 

Zeljko Crnjakovic     8:29  

Yeah, well, I’m sure that Pauline and Dimitar and everybody on the hack coworking team had their work cut out, because I don’t know if they got any sleep. It wasn’t actually a 24-hour hackathon, as you usually have. It was a full online, but actually, they managed along with the hackathon to have a full conference thread running alongside it, which actually doing the hackathon mess because we were doing our own projects, and then challenges solving challenges, but everybody who bought the ticket and didn’t opt in to do the challenges could have   progressed after the symposium into a full   three day conference which was filled with talks and discussions and everything from the coworking world around the world.

Bernie J. Mitchell 9:24  

A lot of our friends were there, from London there was Bertie and… I can never say his name right, its part of the London Coworking Assembly… Anyway, he’s a researcher and I thought that was a great line up. Someone else, Tara Everett from Canoe Coworking, she’s a big part of our inclusion and diversity ongoing conversation.

Zeljko Crnjakovic     10:00  

You weren’t supposed to be there, Bernie. I know you bought a ticket.

Bernie J. Mitchell 10:05  

I bought a ticket. And I opted out of Friday because it was my son’s birthday, and we had this strict rule, because it obviously his birthday was planned before the hackathon. And we just had to take Friday off, to sit in a field near our house and reconnect as human beings. I caught some of Thursday and a little bit of Saturday, but I missed Bertie’s talk which I always   hearing. Bertie’s animated anger at bad design and euphoria at well-being in spaces. So, what was it? Tell me about the hackathon and how that worked for you?

Zeljko Crnjakovic     10:44  

Well, actually, so we formed a team before the hackathon we applied as a team as one of the announcements on this podcast. Yeah. So, I was involved in the hackathon as a team member and as a team leader in that, and it was a great experience, I must say. So, the challenges were they were specific to the point that you knew what they expect you to do. But there were so many ways that you could just implement your ideas and go wild and go outside of the box and think about new ways of doing things. And since the challenges were divided into technical and non-technical our team, there wasn’t there weren’t any coders in our team, so, we didn’t we didn’t do a technical solution. We didn’t do any kind of hacking or coding. We actually redesigned and rethought about a whole way how to improve the coworking experience. And it was the Coworkies challenge in that sense, but there were a lot of partners, So for example, Cobot and Welcomer, and Smerl, and Elixir gave their challenges and a few of them were technical. So Cobot and Welcomer had technical challenges, and the teams actually coded new things.

Zeljko Crnjakovic     12:15

So, I think that the only thing that maybe slowed down the first day was the possibility that hack coworking gave to everybody who was applying that you could form teams, you could basically register as a one man, one person, one woman, and then just joined another team or basically everybody who was single to form teams. And that could have maybe gone better in the sense that some people were looking for teams constantly but the team in the backside, the hacker working team, gave their best to animate them to give them submission forums who has an idea, or submission forums that has skills, so they can more easily find themselves in forum teams. But as in any situation where you have a lot of people who don’t know each other they were hard to, kind of pull together and form teams, but successfully, I think over 13 or 14 teams finally submitted challenges or projects on every challenge. and it was a big success in that sense, because I know when we organize a live hackathon, if we have five or six teams, which basically run five people, you already have 30 people – and for a small coworking space or any coworking space, it’s 500 square feet, that’s a full coworking space between the workplaces, the meeting rooms and the chill out areas, you have a full house of people in that sense. So, 13 people times five, that’s about 70 people coding and thinking new ideas.

Bernie J. Mitchell 14:21  

Wow, this reminds me of the podcast we did with Cube Coworking in Athens, Maria and Stavros and how they were they were ‘hackathon-ing’. And what it is, because people say this word hackathon. And unless you’ve been to one, it’s really hard to grasp the amount of – it’s like Apollo 13, when the guy at NASA comes to the table and throws all the gear on the table and says… This is what’s on that spaceship. You’ve got to make something that gets the air in from this thing….

Zeljko Crnjakovic     15:00  

And you only have five hours to do it…

Bernie J. Mitchell 15:04  

That is a hackathon.

Zeljko Crnjakovic     15:05  

Yeah, exactly. So basically, what when we think of a hackathon, or what most people think of hackathons, you think about coding challenges. And you think about people actually building something new for 24 or 48 hours. But actually, what this experience taught us is, hacking is not only coding – yes, you can code and yes, you can build something like an application or a website, or a UX UI, whatever it is, you can code it and that can be a hackathon, but also, redesigning, rethinking and developing a full new business model from nothing with a limited amount of time And the challenge being brought to you that very day because we didn’t know the challenges before exactly the moment when the hackathon started is a hackathon too. 

Zeljko Crnjakovic     16:09  

So, it’s not only about coding, imagine I tell you that, okay, Bernie lets you and I sit down and we have two days and only two days to develop a new business model or to develop a new solution, or just an idea for it. That we are going to implement it but that solution needs to be as specific as possible and needs to think about all the pros and cons and whatever obstacles you may have to worry – or even do some research on it in the sense that  – probe the audience, do a mom test, do a poll, talk to people, get out and ask people around and validate your idea before bringing it on the table because in any business  if you just do what you think is right you may get to a point that you build something that you think the audience needs But, actually, that may not be the issue, or it may exist or that may not solve a problem that people actually have. So, you need to think about a problem, think of a solution, but also validated by talking to people and you only have a limited amount of time to do it. And when you’re in a room, you need to be very open minded people and just thinking of a solution and constantly forcing one; a team has to be open to everybody’s ideas. And that’s how you do the best brainstorming. If you’re open and just go wild, then by the end of the day, you’ll have something that is boiled down to something that’s viable.

Bernie J. Mitchell 17:54  

You said the mom test there is that the Rob Fitzpatrick book.

Zeljko Crnjakovic     17:57  

I have no idea who wrote it. I have it in the library of our space. I read it, but I honest to God, and we can link it on an Amazon link in the in the show notes, but I don’t know that the writer off the top of my head.

Bernie J. Mitchell 18:16  

It’s a really, really good book.

Zeljko Crnjakovic     18:20  

Yeah, it actually talks about asking the right questions – because if you go to the audience or anybody and talk to and you say some something like do you think this is a good idea? That’s not a good question because people may say no, they may say yes, but actually a mom test is all about asking the right questions. So actually asking the questions on how people operate, how people do things, where do they come across problems… Not presenting your idea but actually learning about specifically what’s their flow… And pinpointing the points where you can improve it, without actually asking them or presenting them with that idea.

Bernie J. Mitchell 19:15  

As you can imagine, I’m speechless, I’m in awe of the book. There’s a bit in there, where he’s working for MTV. And he goes off and builds this platform as part of the job because he thinks that’s what they need. And then he spends $50,000, and all these teams time making this thing, which is not actually what they need. And I think we all do that. I mean, obviously you don’t, because you’re a skilled professional, but there’s so many times in our coworking spaces we’ll put something on that no one really needs but they said it was a nice idea and it costs such a lot of time and energy within the space. I’ve got one more question before I forget it. Do you think that the COVID epidemic situation – How do you think that changed how people acted? Was it more urgency to how people acted in the hackathon? Or was it just the same as normal? Or what was the spirit? 

Zeljko Crnjakovic     20:12  

What do you mean acted? So, I didn’t actually notice anything about COVID in that. So, yes, there were a lot of references on changing or improving the coworking experience, but we actually didn’t see all the project challenges that that people submitted because the submission process – we just submitted it through a forum and you get this live only if you wanted to, and actually, the live pitch had some issues. So, on the two teams, I think, pitch live, everybody else submitted online, but hopefully, the organizers will of course allow everybody to see their pitches. So, we didn’t see too much reference to that COVID changed the coworking experience because it did, But I can tell from realistically my space, which  in Serbia, we have been relaxing measures for the past two, three weeks and by today 90% of coworking members have returned to coworking because either they couldn’t operate from home anymore, or they want to get out or they want to get back to, ‘normal’ in that sense, so everything’s getting back to normal, whether that’s a situation or not, I mean, the coworking space itself and we always supply them with disinfectants and safety measures and rules and regulations, but everybody’s abiding by them, and everybody’s happy to get back. We even have some new members.

Zeljko Crnjakovic     21:57

 So, I don’t think that will happen, so as the situation relaxes people will get back to, again, somebody may say it’s the new normal. It’s the old normal, I have no idea… And whoever managed to survive the two-month period that we were under lockdown, we’ll see an inflow of new people coming in. Of course, some people have decided to remain home and either prolongs or they got used to it. But as in any business, you’ll see new people coming in. As for the hackathon itself, yes, we can have solutions and I think some of the teams submitted solutions that especially focus on improving safety measures or improving that locking or entering exiting the space without contact or with new solutions. Let’s just say it   that because I didn’t see the projects… But it wasn’t like that. Our solution was basically rethinking and redesigning the whole coworking experience in the sense of, we didn’t look at COVID As such, we thought about improving the interactions between members, improving networking, giving them more value from their coworking spaces, whilst giving coworking spaces The possibility of new members new leads more interactions, and everything through gamification and a reward system as such, that people love to do. so It was really a good idea and I hope we take it further because we thought of a business model for it, we’ll see how it goes.

Bernie J. Mitchell 24:03  

How exciting. I was just talking to Kate from the Co-living community before we started this podcast and all these online events have given people who wouldn’t necessarily be able to get on a plane and come to something and take part in something or they can they feel they can just come in and dip in for 15 minutes and have a look around and see who else is there. So, I would hope that this COVID thing, with all these online connections and events happening, will make only make events in 2021 even stronger because it’s broken down a few barriers for people. There are a couple of things I want to shout out before we go with your express permission…

Bernie J. Mitchell 24:49 

And so something that’s happening in the UK is a campaign called Save Our Local Coworking – If you go to saveourlocalcoworking.co.uk and there’s a group of us in the UK who work in coworking or run coworking spaces all around the country, and we are getting people who run or work in coworking spaces to sign our petition. So then different people in our groups can then go to the UK Government and say… Hey, but coworking is really important. Can you do more to support it? And in fairness to the UK Government they’re doing more than ever to support coworking, suddenly they’ve realized as a another industry in the room and how important, particularly coworking spaces not in the centre of a major city – is important to the local economy and people connecting and everything we just talked about in this podcast. So, there are lots of different bits happening in that campaign. But if you are listening to this and you either know someone who runs a coworking space in the UK or know someone who works in a coworking space in the UK, can you bring this to their attention.

Bernie J. Mitchell 26:01

 If you go to saveourlocalcoworking.co.uk, there’s lots of very easy to see buttons to share. And you can send it via WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger and email and all those things right from the website, we’d appreciate that. And then, four days from now, when you’re listening to this podcast, we have what we call the First Friday call, which normally is   a group of people from the events and people who champion coworking directly as a result of their life in Europe – come to this first Friday call. But this next one is opening it up more than we normally would for people around Europe to take part in and share about how the local authority or the local government or however you describe it is supporting coworking in their country, and this varies dramatically between each country. So, the purpose of that call is for people to say how far they’ve got with something and some people have got further than this with others, particularly where there’s a very strong Federation or assembly or something like that in the country, the dialogue between the government and businesses is much stronger.

Bernie J. Mitchell 27:13

 So, people can find out what they can do. And also, people are very willing to share how they’ve done things in that call, both in that call, and again, offline and connecting. So, we’ll put a link in the show notes. And it’s only on the first Friday, and this is the probably the only one we’re going to do. It’s not like some kind of exclusive VIP thing… It’s just the practicality of having so many people on a call at the same time talking about something in terms of actual time and that and how easy that is to manage. So, we’ll put a link in the show notes, the actual booking page are on LinkedIn. Don’t go to LinkedIn, click the link in the show notes. And you will be able to join that call which is on Zoom that Friday lunchtime in Central European Time. And see how other people are doing and even if you just want to come along and listen, that’s totally fine. Cool.

Bernie J. Mitchell 28:05  

And then what else is going on? Is that all for now?

Zeljko Crnjakovic     28:08  

I really think that that before you started this, I should have said, and now a message from our sponsor, but actually our sponsor was at the beginning of the podcast, which is Cobot and shout out to them. So, I think that’s all I mean, we had some great events behind us. And we’ll have more to come. Because this podcast is gonna go from week to week as we have done all this year. So summer is coming even though the weather doesn’t show it so we’ll see how everything fares in that sense, but as soon as we have any kind of other big events, which I hope we will do, and webinars… We are planning a webinar I think in the European Coworking Assembly. So, we’re going to shout that out too. And everything else apart from that, visit coworkingassembly.eu – Check it out, subscribe to the newsletter, check out the podcast, think about joining but you don’t have to, but you definitely need to subscribe to the newsletter which is free, and that’s it for this week.

Bernie J. Mitchell 29:24  

Thank you very much folks just for listening and take care of each other. Stay safe.

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