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BCNewt’s team of bloggers had the opportunity to talk with Jordi Silvente, president of the Coworking Association of Catalonia (COWOCAT). To avoid spoilers we will spare any comments about the interview or the work being done by Jordi and the COWOCAT team. What we can tell you is that we talked at length about coworking in Catalonia and Spain, the coworking philosophy and what is to come in the association.
BCNewt: To give us a general idea, could you tell us about the association? What is COWOCAT?
Jordi Silvente: Yes, of course. COWOCAT is the Coworking Association of Catalonia. The name is important, because we want to transcend a little from spaces and typologies, to get to the concepts of coworking and its application as a tool for economic dynamization.
BCNewt: COWOCAT can also be understood as a meeting point, a network that connects coworking spaces with coworkers. Where does this need for connection come from?
JS: Yes, the concept takes on transcendence from the spaces to create that connection network. The need arises when coworkers really see that the network brings them value by being in a coworking concept space.
BCNewt: Your website incorporates a new project: COWOCAT Rural, which expands the network to coworkings in rural areas of Catalonia. What is the comparison between a rural coworking and an urban coworking?
JS: The common comparison, as I mentioned at the beginning, is that both concepts serve as a tool for economic dynamization. The COWOCAT Rural project ensures that the concept is not a replica of how coworking is applied in urban areas, but to apply the concept adapted to the particular territory and its characteristics. Always thinking about how to dynamize the concept.
BCNewt: The values of the association, as highlighted in COWOCAT’s mission statement, are based on the sustainable models demanded by today’s society: reputation, honesty, tolerance and cooperation. Following this we can speak of an idea of being community within the community, but we know that it has its difficulties. Do you think coworking can bring added value, a way to cultivate these values and transfer them from the coworking space with coworkers to the community outside the office?
JS: Of course, those of us who are committed to working in a collaborative economy concept, I think we choose to exercise common values. The growth of the coworking format must recover some aspects of trust between people that must transcend the space both professionally and personally. In the future, society should distinguish us by our professional and personal choices.
BCNewt: One of our experiences with cooperative work is a strange phenomenon we like to call shared individuality, where self-employed professionals of any order interact with their peers without necessarily being governed by a firm or company. This explains a little of today’s labor and economic dynamics. Do you consider that the paradigm of work has changed since the growth of coworking?
JS: Indeed, the definition of shared individuality is very accurate. Coworking as a work format educates us to have the ability to work transversally, at the same level, on the same project, where the value of the content grows exponentially.
BCNewt: On a personal level, why did Jordi Silvente decide to go for this philosophy, for coworking?
JS: Because I am passionate about networking (coming from teamwork). I have been fortunate to grow professionally in a growing multinational, with great trainers and entrepreneurs within an organization where teamwork was valued. When this charm is lost, it is when it makes no sense to me to be inside a hierarchical organization, and once outside, to return to it. Also, personally, I am not afraid of competition as a problem, so I am also committed to the association and to being stronger as a community.
BCNewt: Is it possible to talk about multidisciplinary management and knowledge society when we talk about coworking?
JS: Without doubts, our spaces are increasingly made up from profiles with experience and professional talent. This generates a need to exploit our own knowledge, joining other disciplines to complement our projects.
BCNewt: Leaving the association aside, how do you interpret the current situation of coworking spaces in Catalonia?
JS: I think that we are currently reflecting a scenario between the effect of the economic crisis and the capacity we have in the Catalan professional fabric to evolve quickly. That is to say, there are many spaces with the need to share expenses and others that are born with the firm conviction that it is a place where professionally it is a point of shared knowledge to generate projects for companies.
BCNewt: We can extend the analysis: What about Spain?
JS: In Spain, perhaps there are areas that go at a different pace, but I know that there are cities where there are people who have successfully led the coworking concept. In my opinion, Spain, in terms of quality of life, is one of the places where coworking is going to become more consolidated in Europe, and in Catalonia, where we are going to create a benchmark model.
BCNewt: One last question, Jordi. At the beginning of 2015, what are the new challenges for the association for the rest of the year?
JS: For being only a year old, we have some very interesting challenges. Right now we have an important first semester of events. We will hold our first Open Day Coworking Catalunya, in Tona (Barcelona), in June we will host an event of the coworking network Pyrenees, with spaces from France, Basque Country, Navarra, Aragon and Catalonia; and in July we will be at the fair of entrepreneurship reference in Spain, as is BIZbarcelona, with a much more interesting proposal than in the previous edition. All this, in addition, together with the constant challenge that the spaces increasingly rely on the network and in one way or another participate to consolidate the association.
If you want to know more about COWOCAT and keep up to date with their publications, comments and news, be sure to follow them on social networks Facebook (Cowocatcoworking) and Twitter (@Cowocat). Jordi also frequently updates his Twitter (@jordisilvente).
More content about the world of coworking can be found in our blog: Do you want to know why coworking is replacing working from home? or What has been the evolution of coworking in Spain and the world?