Jeannine Van Der Linden – Taking Bold Stances, Communication and Growth in trying times

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Hi folks! You’re tuning in yet to another Coworking Values Podcast. You’re here with us, Zeljko and Bernie and our guest Jeannine van der Linden (our boss!). Jeannine is the founder and manager of De Kamer – a network of coworking spaces in Netherlands. She is also the president of the European Coworking Assembly. 

We are going to be talking about anxieties, rent, panic and changing perspectives to be able to work through the current crisis that the whole world is facing. Jeannine shares some very important insights on how the coworking community can sustain themselves during this trying time. And how taking bold stances is essential in achieving sustainability. 

Is taking a bold stance that important?

I think it’s important the way that you do it. I think it’s important that when you take a bold stance, it’s extremely important how you do it.

You know, the saying the “end justifies the means”?  Yeah. My position on that is that it does not. It never has, because — there’s a reason. And it is, the means you choose changes your end, always. 

You may think I’m going to do this thing, right? A thing that lacks integrity, that is not sustainable. For whatever your various reasons, you decide, I’m going to do this thing that violates my personal values simply because the objective is more important to me than this violation. 

But the truth is, once you’ve done that, your end, your objective, is no longer what it was.  Your act of doing that changes everything. 

So it isn’t that we refuse to pay rent  that is essentially the bold statement. This problem which we are focusing on is that the rent is due April 1, right? That is not the problem, we all have a much larger problem than that the rent is due April 1. The bold statement is, we need government to do its part, we need business to do its part, we need individuals to do their part and we need to do this together because the problem we are definitely all in together. If you can bring your message in that way, what you find is that your objective becomes different.

It changes everything.

How does De Kamer support growth within its community during this time?

So the first communication, we immediately started working on the next step. And so the next communication from us was, here’s what we know about how you can support your income, how you can keep your business going. 

And I didn’t say, you can keep your business going so you can pay me because that wasn’t what it was about. It’s about what De Kamer is about, is to support people from right off the kitchen table when they first have the idea for their business. 

It’s about developing that business, growing that business, — if they want to grow their business, one of the messages I have always sent is this obsessive need for growth is just wrong. 

Unbridled, unchecked growth is the M.O.. for cancer. I don’t think it’s a model that we need to follow, sometimes growth and scaling is the best model. And sometimes it’s not. And when it’s not, it’s perfectly valid. 

So that has been our message right along to all of our coworkers. And so, I think they were not particularly surprised that the first thing that rolled out of us was, um, here’s how you can help yourself.

Links mentioned in the Podcast:

Mike Zeidler

Ronald Vandenhoff


Jeannine Online

Jeannine on Coworking Europe

Jeannine on Linkedin

Jeannine on Twitter


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Bernie J Mitchel  0:03  

Hello ladies and gentlemen, and welcome to this week’s episode of the Coworking Values Podcast with my esteemed host all the way from sunny Serbia. How are you  Željko?

Željko Crnjaković  0:12  

I’m good. Thank you very much for joining us today Bernie on another episode. How are you?

Bernie J Mitchel  0:22  

I’m good. I am in this crazy hectic time that we’re recording. We are pretty okay here in London.

Željko Crnjaković  0:34  

This episode is brought to you by Cobot, a leading management software for coworking spaces, office hubs and flexible workspaces around the world. You know one of the best things about Cobot is that it is produced by people who manage a coworking space and know the ins and outs of the main problems and issues bugging coworking managers. So if you want more time for your co-workers and community, check out cobot, and take your coworking management to the next level. Well, I’m going to say that it isn’t like we’re going somewhere, you know, we’re sitting at home. So you know, social distancing and everything. So we have time to do these podcasts.

Bernie J Mitchel  1:20  

There’s always opportunity in disaster. One of the things I want to talk about today is the, we’ll put it in the show notes, is this, my friend Mark Cachola from Herman Miller posted this video today about what will happen in a year’s time or and how we’re spending more time at home so I’m actually loving hanging out with my son a bit more, and then rush. I’ve had three conversations today about like the rush has disappeared from life so it’s being replaced with anxiety and uncertainty but the craziness of running out the door and catching achievement, commuting and making sure we’re at the breakfast club on time and it has all disappeared. And because my wife works for the NHS, which is the National Health Service in the UK, our son is allowed to go to school so he’s at school with like 10 kids and thinks it’s the best thing ever. And school is a shorter time at this moment in time, but we walk to school and then we live near quite a main road that goes into London, and it’s absolutely empty. It’s like a second day of the Triffids, if people remember that movie, but before I go for that too much, so we have someone else joining us today. Yeah, and I’m scared. I’m intimidated to have the boss on the on the podcast. 

Željko Crnjaković  2:49  

Don’t be, she’s a sweetheart.

Bernie J Mitchel  2:52  

She’s so where is your name Van Der Linden, and what are you known for? And what would you like to be known for?

Jeannine Van Der Linden  3:00  

Okay, man, I’m Jeannine Van Der Linden and I run a network of coworking spaces in the Netherlands known as the Camera which is in English translates to The Room, and we have eight locations in the Netherlands. And I’m also involved in the European Court.

Željko Crnjaković  3:20  

She’s actually the President of the European Coworking Assembly. That’s why Bernie is calling the bras. This prominent podcast is a project of the ACA. So, Bernie, watch your language.  I want to quickly get over on what you were saying or get back to what you’re saying. So I actually have a beef with a little bit of what you said. And I’m going to ask also both you and Jeannine to comment on it. So yes, maybe or I’ve seen so many people that are saying what you just said. We’re seeing a slow in everything and I’m not talking about stress and anxiety, but it’s slow in everyday life.

People are saying I have too much time, I’m going to start reading, I’m going to start doing online courses, I don’t know what I’m going to do. I see people on my social network that just say, I have too much time, I don’t know what to do, even with the family and everything else. And on the other hand, I see people and being one of them, who actually are working right now more and/or investing themselves more in work, then when everything was okay, and I see them as being mostly, identifying with entrepreneurs who are, as you said, unsure and uncertain of the future and everything in it. I find myself working more right now from morning until night. You know, then at a time when I went to work and just went to a coworking space and work from eight till three.

Jeannine Van Der Linden  5:02  

Yes, I see it in my co-workers also, I am actively engaged in several conversations with my co-workers about this. We live in a, if I may guys, we live in a redemptive culture with a sacrificial ethos and its effect that has led to in many ways we have these under a number of unconscious beliefs that we have. And one of them is that we can be redeemed. That’s what it means to be a redemptive culture. And the other one is that one of the things that will redeem us, that will bring us to heaven, Valhalla enlightenment, whichever perspective you’re going into is our sacrifice. And the greater the sacrifice, the greater the redemption. All of these things unconsciously underlie a good deal of what we do. And I am here to release everyone now from their change. It’s not true, sometimes one is redeemed without sacrifice and sometimes one makes a great sacrifice and is never redeemed. Those things are not necessarily connected to each other. 

I do think that the fact has led to a culture within the entrepreneurial world, which is a little bit of a bubble. It’s that constant hustle that if you get up at four O’clock in the morning, then you’re the guy that’s going to win. It has led to an obsession with work of seeking. People have always sought fulfilment in work. But it gets to be unsustainable at a certain point. And I don’t know that I would call it a slowing down. I’ve not observed any huge slowing down myself, but it gives us an opportunity to have a look at what is sustainable. There is another person in the UK who has some very intelligent things to say about that. I’m going to give him a shout out. And I’ll probably put the link in the show notes because he is really saying some intelligence stuff. And that is Mike Seidler, from funky workspaces. He is writing articles that are, sometimes we need to take the time to step back and look at the big picture, because we’re used to looking at the small picture. 

And one of the problems with this crisis, which I’m certain we’re going to talk about on this podcast and absolutely has to be addressed is; we’re looking at the very, very small picture. A lot of people are looking at the very, very small picture because today is the 30th of March and the rent comes due on the first of April. And so, a ton of coworking spaces are looking at, ‘can I make that rent now’? Workers are looking at ‘can I make that render right now’? That’s the only thing they care about. And they do not want to talk about the big picture. But once we get past these little humps on the Eisenhower grid, right? There’s urgent and important and there’s, not urgent, not important. Things that are very urgent tend to draw our focus entirely, and that’s what we’re looking at right now because rent’s due on April 1, hello. But the place you want to keep your thoughts is the part that is important and not urgent. That’s where the hard work is. 

Željko Crnjaković  8:48  

I totally agree with you. I’m just going to add that when I talked about getting busier, I was meaning somewhere in between what Bernie said, because I’m seeing people getting busy because of the uncertainty that Bernie mentioned, because of maybe exploring new avenues in their own businesses or different businesses are starting up something else because something else is shutting down. How many people have stayed at home, lost their revenue, lost their income, lost their jobs? Not only in the coworking area, we’re talking about members, we’re talking about a freelancer, we’re talking about many people who actually have retail jobs, and they’re exploring new stuff. 

So getting busy is not a sense of just making more about the business that you’re already running, but making more of that, and then, the additional time investing in how am I going to survive? because this whole situation, we talked about this on the last podcast, brings uncertainty and we don’t know where this is going to end, we don’t know where the worst part is going to be. We still haven’t reached that bottom. And when we do, then we’ll know what to do in order to get back on, not home top, but least climbing. So Bernie, what’s your input on all of this?

Bernie J Mitchel  10:24  

I thought we did talk about you challenging things I said on the podcast, but I’ll let it go this time. So yeah, I agree with that. And I’ve read Mike Seidler’s Recovery or Bust which road do we choose that? Yes, I’m really, I’m really enjoying that. And actually, I can’t quote it with authority here. But there’s a post about an organization, which is something about the new world economy or something like that, which is Iceland, Scotland and another, New Zealand. And they’re talking that even before this happened, they were working to find ways to have a more connected economy. And I’ll put a link in the show notes to that, because it is worth reading, particularly this post about how Iceland is responding to restructuring after all this happens. And that is where my energy is at the moment, because when I say things have slowed down the walk, we like the quietness around here. And this is what is in that Instagram post, you know, the quiet this has given us to sort of be a bit more present. So I am, I’m kind of like anxiety induced because I don’t really know where the money is coming from for the next month.

Željko Crnjaković  11:49  

Oh, I totally agree with you. I didn’t mean to challenge you in the sense that you’re wrong or any of the people who are taking in the stillness or time with the family are doing anything wrong versus the people who are even investing themselves more and burning out? I think that the truth is; somewhere in the middle, and everybody should do what their own anxiety allows them to do in that sense, but let’s talk about membership. So Jeannine mentioned one big thing, and this is a coworking podcast. Do you know, tomorrow if this podcast is probably going to be published on the 31st so rent’s due tomorrow? How many coworking spaces have closed? How many coworking spaces are struggling with how to maintain their memberships? How many of them are thinking of innovative ways of converting their memberships into online services, part time memberships, some sort of way to still get some revenue and income. In your experience, question for both of you, Jeannine?

Jeannine Van Der Linden  13:09  

I’m hearing it from right across Europe. I am impressed by the response of the coworking community in Europe. I was in a panic mode; I’m going to get it again, to do another shout out. I was in a panic mode ten days ago, something like that. We are all closed in the Netherlands, in a sense, and anywhere that the government has said, stay home or locked down. Right? Everyone has closed in that sense. But there’s a difference between closing and not doing business anymore. And I probably, ten days ago, I was in something of a panic about all of this. And Ronald London Wolf, also from the Netherlands who run seats to me. There was a conversation going on about what are we going to do about the rent. And Ronald said, the coworking spaces that are sort of allied with seats to meet, all sent a letter to our landlords and said, we’re not paying for three months. Have a nice day.

Željko Crnjaković  14:13  

And what did the lender think?

Jeannine Van Der Linden  14:15  

I don’t know. But there’s this site where they’re going with collective action. And so collective action is much more powerful than you just sending a letter to your landlords. And obviously, they sent more than that. They sent a sensible plan for how to deal with this as a tenant. But when he said that, I suddenly I had this sort of, it wasn’t an epiphany, but he abruptly adjusted my thinking, because all of my thinking was about; I have to do this on this day. And this is what I signed a contract to do. And that’s what I do because I do what I said I will do, because that’s what I do. Right. And so I was completely on that track and what he did was pushed me with that one sentence. He said more than that, obviously, it’s more nuanced than that. But in essence, he pushed me off that track, and got me to the place where I realized we are all in this, all of us together. So I’m not the only one, looking straight down the barrel of a problem. And my co-workers, who are the people, I think of first are looking straight down the barrel of a problem. The landlords are also looking straight down the barrel of a problem, as is the government as are the banks. Take it all the way up. And at that moment, I stopped being stupid and started actually thinking again, so thank you, Ron, for that. 

Željko Crnjaković  15:45  

So but can I ask you, so was that a good decision in the sense or is it just an example of an abrupt ,like Cox, and not forced decision but in the sense of very big stands that a bunch of them said, we’re not going to do this? Was is that positive or is that negative?

Jeannine Van Der Linden  16:11  

Well, here’s the thing. It feeds into what we were just talking about, which is we are all proceeding. The hardest thing in life is unlearning things. Learning things is easy. We are designed to learn things as human beings, but we have to unlearn things if we want to do something new. Listen, if you’re involved in coworking with all, then chances are good that you’ve come in contact with the people we call, I will refer to generally as the future of work people, several of whom we’ve already talked about today, and the future of work people have been saying, for as long as I’ve had a coworking space, for as long as even when I was practicing on Atlanta, people in the future of work area, were saying, We need a change to bring the way we do business to something sustainable. This is not sustainable, and we have seen repeatedly it is not sustainable. And so the people in the future of work area, their biggest problem is ‘what we have works well enough’, and the problem is not large enough. 

The problem is there, everyone acknowledges the problem, right?  but the pain is not great enough for us to really, truly look at something new, because doing something new is also painful. So doing the old thing has to become more painful than doing the new thing. And I think one of the things that’s such a crisis is, along with all of its other aspects, which are that it’s frightening and it’s upsetting and it opens a tiny space in which we can go; what would be sustainable? What would work? Taking bold stances like that, whether that specific stance is going to work or not. I don’t know. I don’t have the answer to that. But it requires an important and deep motivation for people to take a bold stance.

Željko Crnjaković  18:16  

Okay, but I’m going to ask you, so I don’t know if there was news I read, let’s say a day or two ago, which was very negative. It spoke about something different and yet it’s similar. So Adidas and Nike, I think Adidas for certain night and I am not certain about what. So Adidas announced that they’re not going to pay any rent for all of their shops and retail stores in Germany. And it got a very negative response both from the state, from both realtors, the small, much smaller people because there are big companies that just took a stance “you closed on all our retail stores, and we’re not going to pay rent on them”, and you know, suck it, basically we’re going to open when we open if not here then somewhere else. But it got a very negative response  from the people, the audience and in Canada in the long run, it could affect them, maybe not in a way that they’re going to feel it too much because they’re so big. But in that way, how is this? Is it just different because these are a bunch of small you know entities and people-friendly entities that they are struggling themselves and then when they took a stance like this, it’s not similar to that.

Jeannine Van Der Linden  19:56  

No, I think it’s important the way that you do it. I think it’s important when you take a bold stance, it’s extremely important how you do it. One of the battles I have fought all my life is, the saying ‘the end justifies the means’. My position on that is that it does not. Never has, because there’s a reason. And it is the means you choose that changes your end, always. You may think I’m going to do this thing, right? That it lacks in integrity, that is not sustainable for whatever of your values reasons, I’m going to do this thing that violates my personal value simply because the objective is more important to me than this violation. But the truth is, once you’ve done that, your end, your objective is no longer what it was. Your act of doing that changes everything, and so, and it happens over and over again. So we refused to pay rent. It is essentially the bold statement. This problem which we are focusing on the rent is due April 1, right?  is not the problem, we all have a much larger problem than the rent is due April 1. So, we need government to do its part. We need business to do its part. We need individuals to do their part and we need to do this together because the problem we are definitely all in together. And that is really if you bring your message in that way, what you find is that your objective becomes different. It changes everything.

Željko Crnjaković  21:40  

Yeah. What a fantastic phrasing. So Bernie, do you have anything?

Bernie J Mitchel  21:45  

I’m listening intently.

Željko Crnjaković  21:49  

What’s happening in London, what’s happening, the UK is but as far as this whole problem

Bernie J Mitchel  21:55  

We’ve had regular calls with people in the London Coworking Assembly, and then I’m in a loaded group for freelancers. And there is this tension, and I get both sides of it. And, you know, like, when you were saying about the Nike store, it’s very easy for Nike to go, we’re not paying any rent. And one of the things that popped into my head was some of those stores will be owned by people who just own the property, and they kind of don’t really need the money. But Nike have made a business agreement with them. So they’re not honouring that agreement. And there might be other properties where, you know, a family owns that store. And they rely on that money to keep them because we’re like interdependent in this. So for coworking residents, or people in a coworking space to go “I’m not paying the rent” is very different, unless there’s things we’ve alluded to in different blogs and conversations we’ve had online offline. That if you have a community in your coworking space at the moment, there’s plenty of examples I’ve heard of people paying rent or everyone paying a portion of rent so the business can keep going, which is great. And there’s other coworking spaces just coldly sending invoices to people because they want to have their money. And I know as renters, we need to have an understanding of the bigger picture. But also ask people who are renting to people we need to find a way to keep our business going and welcome, and support the people that are renting from us. There’s a thing about how somewhere I heard that is, if everyone just leaves it, if people go I can’t pay the rent, and they leave. It’s very hard to reboot a dead business, but if people are paying a portion of rent, it’s easier for everyone to pick up together when things get going at the same time. So, I don’t really know what the answer is because I’m renting. I don’t have staff. I’m a freelancer. So my core needs are very different to people who run coworking spaces at this moment in time.

Željko Crnjaković  24:29  

I totally agree. I mean, in Serbia, there is also same situation. Some of the spaces have closed down because, basically, there is a self-isolation, social distancing, a situation in effects and on the other hand, we’ve seen a drop in memberships. It’s much easier financially to make a hard decision and close down for the time being. If you can deal with your rent and space that you’re, whether it’s yours or you’re leasing it out. But on the other hand, there are spaces that still operate in the sense of McLees 30%, 20%, 50% membership for some community sense for some virtual services that we also talked about last time, or just in order to basically maintain their business and are receiving some sort of support from their communities. Of course, because we don’t have a curfew of 24/7, there are still spaces that allow people to use some part of the spaces and in such, charge rent or membership accordingly. 

Bernie J Mitchel  25:55   

So this would be a good place to point people back to the last episode we published which was a recording of Alex Tillman’s epic,’ what to do when your space closes’, and there’s a transcript and everything without so you can search it. But there’s lots of examples in there of how to keep it going. And Indy Hall is in this absolutely luxurious position of, I have a lot of virtual members, and it’s not the only space in the world that has done this. But over the 10 or 12 years, I’ve been going, they’ve built a community rather than just rented desks. And that’s something Adam and Alex have been preaching for a very, very long time. I think there’s a difference between a space that just rents this to people and a space where people are committed to the, I could almost say, like, committed to the community at a higher level. And there’s different communities I’m part of. Most of them are online, and when it’s got to crunch time, like; oh so this group of people are really good in a crisis. And there’s two particular communities where I’m staying sane, because I mean, those are online communities. The one is smaller; independent, and bigger companies. And one is mainly; freelancers and consultants, who are saying, what are you doing now? When you don’t know, how are you handling this? And it’s like a therapy session, also actions coming out of that. And if your coworking space doesn’t have that sense of interdependence, and interconnectedness, why are people still going to send you money every month while they’re not using it?

Željko Crnjaković  27:40  

Yeah, I would like to ask Jeannine because she mentioned that once at a certain point, that she’s not seeing that much of a drop in business, even though the two said, Jeannine did. Everybody’s closed. So what’s the business model that you’re running as far as the coworking spaces?

Jeannine Van Der Linden  27:59  

In my network, we have an extremely alternate business model, to fit all of my co-workers who are members of the camera, rent the entire space. They have a traditional rental contract. It’s when you go down to staples, and  it’s a standard rent contract. All of them rent the entire space on the basis of sharing it and they give us permission to manage the sharing of the space. And so when the question comes up, have you closed? Are you permitting people to come to the space? The answer really is: I can’t really close in that sense. It is their space. It’s not. It’s not my space. So now no one is coming. We are sending out our communications to say no, you’re not coming. But,  anyone who we has a keypad on the door, everyone who has a code can just come in,  and there’s very little we can do to stop them. Because of that we have a base membership, and we have a range of different memberships. Essentially the base membership is what gives you the right to use the space at any time, day or night, and that’s the right they have.

Željko Crnjaković  29:29  

Even though they’re not coming, did you see a drop in memberships? And if not, why do you think so?

Jeannine Van Der Linden  29:37  

No, and I think it’s because our base membership is inexpensive enough that so far everyone has found what they get from the space under the contract to be worth the rent that they’re paying. We sent our invoices for April, just as we always do. One of the things about sending invoices is that it’s, in some way, it’s just the thing that happens. There’s a certain sort of comfort in things just happening as they should. And I really, rely on the communications that I have with the co-workers and the relationship that we have built up within the communities. For them to let me know that they cannot pay, whatever their circumstances are. And that has helped. I have had five conversations today roughly with co-workers. One of them paid their full rent, including their usual use of the space even though they’re not going to use the space in April, and one of them, paid their full rent and half again and said, take the other half and apply it to someone’s rent who can’t pay it. And you can you manage to share and you know who can’t, and the other one’s called me up and one of them said, can I pay two weeks?

 Like there are several conversations of that nature. I had one who said I just can’t pay it. And so, we talked about that. But, so far ours has been, I don’t say my business is unaffected. We’re working quite a lot in terms of the first thing we did was; one of our community managers for one of the spaces devoted herself to learning everything she can about the government support for business under this social distancing policy, everything that’s available from the government. We now have some programs from the banks rolling out, and she is learning everything about that for the freelancers. And she has focused entirely on the freelancers. And one of my other community managers and one of the other spaces has devoted herself to find out everything that is available for small businesses from the government, from the banks, whatever. And so we sent out an email beginning of last weekish, that essentially said, we are not bookkeepers, we are not lawyers, we are not accountants, however, the good news is that the government is working very hard to make this happen. These benefits, you don’t have to have an expert to do it.

 They are removing administrative requirements and making the process much simpler. We have these two people who have devoted themselves and they will at least be happy to share with you what they have learned from their experience, because one of them is a freelancer, and the other one owns a small business. They can put you in contact, if you need an expert, we have some in the community, they can put you in contact with some of our co-workers who do that for a living who will help you. But we don’t think you need the help. And that we’re going to roll out an updated one today or tomorrow because there’s new stuff coming down all the time. Our first response to the crisis was actually, we were working very hard on a sort of a communication about how we clean the space and how to use the space, and what safe use of the space. That was way back in the beginning, and all of that stuff, and in truth, I got some feedback from several of the co-workers and two of the community managers. That said, this is the Netherlands, they assume we’re clean.

Well, that’s true. They got a point there. And so we did not send that one. So the first communication, we immediately started working on the next step. And so the next communication from us was, here’s what we know about how you can support your income, how you can keep your business going. And I didn’t say you can keep your business going so you can pay me, because that wasn’t what it was about. It’s about what the camera is about, is to support people from right off the kitchen table when they first have the idea for their business. I’m in developing that business, growing that business, making that business, if they want to grow their business, one of the messages I have always sent is this obsessive need for growth. Yet unbridled, unchecked growth is the mo. for cancer. I don’t think it’s a model that we need to follow? Sometimes growth and scaling is the best model. And sometimes it’s not, and when it’s not, it’s perfectly valid. So, that has been our message right along to all of our co-workers, and so, I think we’re not particularly surprised that the first thing that rolled out of us was: “ here’s how you can help yourself”

Željko Crnjaković  35:22  

I think that the camera is, kind of, sitting on exactly the right place that it needs to be, and the approach to the communities and what the whole coworking it should be about.

Jeannine Van Der Linden  35:38  

Picking it up as I go along, Željko.

Željko Crnjaković  35:41  

But, so for the ends, I want to circle back to another thing and I hope that all of the listeners have took notes, or you can just reverse and go back and listen to the recording of everything that Jeannine said, once again, Jeannine, I want to talk about VCA and European Coworking Assembly. What it does it do in this time of crisis for the Korean community and what are its plans?

Jeannine Van Der Linden  36:13  

Right now we have several projects going again. Just like the grammar, I have to say we were not in a hurry to get first out of the box, and we have a post going up on the blog by a local genius who is going to cover most of that waterfront. We have a project which should be launching, let’s just say imminently, because I can’t give it a time deadline, which will be that as a project, it’s coworking library. The coworking library is hard at work collecting all of the same thing I did for my co-workers. All of the benefits from the different governments all over Europe and creating in essence, a searchable database just like coworking library, for what is available in your country. And it will, just like the coworking library, be available in each country’s language as well as in English that will be mostly crowd sourced.

So I’m doing  the part about the Netherlands and I assume Željko or somebody is doing the part about Serbia, and Bernie or somebody is doing the part about the UK. We’re trying to get that all in one place so that people can find it, and that project is going on. I was working with, from the very beginning, women who are coworking they have been busily developing a great resource for coworking spaces who are dealing with the crisis with their communities. We heard your podcast with Alex Hillman which is a as usual, a thorough and competent detection of how to handle it.

Željko Crnjaković  38:04  

I would like to also note, basically, the coworking communities around Europe can look to the ECA for information at least during this time. So we have not just stopped like everybody else, or just sitting as we mentioned in the beginning of the podcast, and waiting for the storm to pass. Actually, we’re right there up front and talking about all of the issues that coworking is facing, and what it will change into if it changes into anything. Right. 

Jeannine Van Der Linden  38:44  

This is one of the most interesting projects that we have going now. The most active projects that we have going now along with dealing with the immediate crisis, is also we organize the Europeans Freelancers Week, every year and we are organizing again this year, it’s in October of this year. It’s also what we started this conversation with. So that brings it back in a nice full circle. We need to deal with what is urgent and important now, because that has to be dealt with instantly. We also need to deal with what is not urgent and important. That box is also important. We’re going to get through this whole thing together. And while we’re getting there, we want to look at where we want to come out. Yeah. Bernie.

Bernie J Mitchel  39:39  

I would say I’m definitely here. This has been such hard work for me, this podcast. I’m taking notes. So it’s really funny. It’s actually a privilege to be on a podcast. So again, I should do that. So what I would deeply urge people,  and this is what we’re doing in the London Coworking Assembly is, if people communicate with us either on LinkedIn or via the website, or most people listening to this will know how to get in contact with us, is what do you need to know? Because it’s one thing to sort of put out what we think people should know. 

I post the link on an email or in a Slack channel, and then I go around and beat people up individually by text message or phone call, say what do you need to know? And then eventually, they tell me, oh, I really need to know about membership and landlords and stuff like that. And the reason to do that is because between the two of us, we are connected to pretty much everybody in European coworking and we have people working on loads of different projects. We have people in different industries, we can call them for advice. And people are being very generous at this moment in time, so it’s certainly not impossible to know some answers of specific questions. 

We can find someone in Spain who knows how to answer that question, someone in Germany who knows how to answer that question. A good example last week was; Dora and Stuart joined a call in the London Coworking Assembly to talk about rents in London and how to handle landlords and some people found out from that call that actually their landlord is being incredibly generous given the circumstances. So they should just shut up and be grateful that they’ve got such a good deal. And other people had no idea that was available to them. And likewise, we were working with Ed Goodman, and some other people in London, in the UK. Ed Goodman runs freelance heroes. And in the UK, the government’s made all these offers to support businesses, one of those offers is to support people who rent places to rent offices. Certain people will be eligible for afford to pay their rent over the coming months. But actually how to unpick all of that is really, really hard work. So we’re gathering information and help coworking spaces, basically writing a blog post or be coworking spaces can send this blog post to their members, and miss out a whole area of hard work. And like both of you said, that is crowd sourced information. Because, you know, not all of us have got time to scroll through Google will find a link, find another link, find another link and find out which is actually the link you need to send people. So, you know, send us your questions, and we, you know, the content team of the Coworking assembly, we’ll find out how to answer those who answer those over the time. And the more questions you send us actually, the more helpful it is.

Jeannine Van Der Linden  42:45  

Yeah, and if you’re nervous about I mean, everyone should send me an email as far as I’m concerned. But if that doesn’t work, I’m available everywhere because I am tool neutral and so I have literally everything on my phone that any of my 404 Co-workers users um, I got a discord I got it off. And but the easiest way not just to talk to us, but also to talk to each other, which I if I can insert it, it technically I guess I am the boss of the ECA. But the thing is, the ECA is a group effort and everybody says that, but it’s absolutely true. We have a flock of birds management style. Everyone in the European coworking assembly is themselves doing all kinds of projects, and all of them are supported by the assembly and we’re not that good at branding because I don’t really care about that. But um, it’s important to me that the projects get done. But it anybody who’s got a question that they’re feeling nervous about, hit us up anywhere in social media, but in particular, hit us up on the join our Slack, because then we can talk to each other as well. A lot of really smart people and We’re all helping each other. The Coworking movement started in the open source movement. And I’ve been in it long enough to remember right when the motto was we hope first. And we do.

Željko Crnjaković  44:12  

Well, I believe that wraps it up for this episode. I think we covered all of the stuff we wanted and even some of the things that we, you know, didn’t think of in the beginning. Bernie, are you satisfied?

Bernie J Mitchel  44:25  

I’m very happy. I mean, I’m really impressed and enjoying the way the community around Europe is coming together at this crazy, crazy time. And I hope to see more of it. Thank you for both. Thank you to both of you for your time today. 

Željko Crnjaković  44:41  

Now,in either case, to everybody. Jeannine, thank you so much for your time and to everybody who’s listening. We’ll be here also next week on Tuesdays and chatting about coworking around Europe.

Transcribed by Otter.

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