Hello folks! Our guest for this episode is none other than Marc Navarro of the Coworking Space Conference. He’s been our guest before and each time is as interesting as the latter.
For this episode we are talking about the upcoming Reset. Rethink. The Coworking Conference that is happening on the 4th to the 7th of May. And we are deep-diving on the topics of the talks/sessions comprising the coworking conference such as:
Zeljko Crnjaković 0:08
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Bernie J Mitchel 0:43
So, ladies and gentlemen, in the studio yet again is Mr. Marc Navarro. My evil Spanish coworking twin. So, Marc, last year was the first year for ages I haven’t seen you in person. And I love a little coworking tech a geek out with you. So, how are you, for the two people that don’t know you, say who you are, and then tell us what you’re doing with Coworking Spain this year?
Marc Navarro 1:13
Hi, thank you very much for having me in this session. I’m Marc Navarro. I’m a Coworking Consultant, and I’m the Content Manager for Coworking Spain Conference. The new name of the conference is CWSC. I have been managing the content since 2017, and I also work together with SEO Asia to take the working Academy, to the Asian community. So, this is who I am and this year we are doing our first conference, I mean, last year we had a lot of sessions to try to replace the conference, but it was not very well designed, because the reasons that everybody is aware of the COVID situation, but this year we came up with the digital conference to explain the whole story in a fast way.
Manuel gave me a call because we had been discussing a lot about how people are consuming content these days. because at the beginning of the pandemic, the people were in lockdown, so almost everyone has a lot of time at that moment. But right now, it’s not the thing. Some of the people even have less time than before. So, at the end the problem was, how we do our conference in a way that it’s friendly to people, because your clients understand that you fly to a conference, and you cannot take the phone or reply an email immediately. But if you are in your desk with a computer in front of you, people usually do not understand that you cannot reply because you’re watching something. So, we decided let’s have a conference room the whole month. So, Tuesdays and Thursdays, one hour one session each day. So, very easy. It’s easy to put that session in your day-to-day operations and standard life. And for sure if you buy the ticket you can see that anytime. So, that was our idea, and two months after the session takes place, we are going to publish that session for free. So, if you want to have it live or see it immediately after, go for a ticket. It’s also a way to support the coworking conferences because it’s a hard time for us, in the sense that we love food, love to have people together and be able to see people like Bernie, and other people, but we cannot do it now. At the end we are having the same work that we have in terms of you have to find a place to record or have to talk with the speakers and do all these jobs, but then it’s much more difficult for us to reach the same amount of people with physical conference.
Bernie J Mitchel 4:34
I’m missing the physical conference. Whenever I think of your conference I think of, I mean obviously the content is amazing. I always say how hard it is to get on your stage. And also, the food.
Marc Navarro 4:56
I think the nicest compliment to me, it was, I think, just after Alicante 2019, that member of the working community that, told me Coworking Spain is amazing. But for a sponsor, sometimes it’s a pain in the ass because all the people are inside the conference attending what’s going on the stage. There’s nobody on the aisles, there’s nobody , outside the sessions. So, it was a great compliment. And for sure, we tried to do that part for sponsors, but it was a great compliment that someone who attends a lot of conferences all over the world thinks that our conference is the one with less people on aisles, or outside sessions.
Bernie J Mitchel 6:04
I felt that too. I popped out to take a call and I was amazed at how few people were in the hallway. And so, how hard was it to decide what to talk about this year, because the last podcast we did was the German Coworking Federation, and they were talking about the internet. Quite a lot of what happens there they do a proper bar camp unconference, and it’s in German, so I’m not as in tune with what’s going on there, but there’s only so many future work conversations we can have, isn’t there?
Marc Navarro 6:48
For us, choosing the content has been really difficult for two reasons; one, it’s because of COVID. For sure, the world is upside down. It seems that we are eventually facing it sooner or later, but there’s that light at the end of the tunnel. This for sure is one of the main topics, not talking about COVID, but talking about how everything changes, how the industry is changing and adapting to this new reality, etc. And not the new reality today, but they don’t realize that this is going to be here in one month, two months, half a year or something like that. For sure this was one issue that makes it much more difficult to choose. The second one it was that usually we have around 20 talks. And this year, in this format we have eight talks, plus maybe some surprises, which I’m not going to disclose. But these insights, made us much more conscious about what we were picking. I don’t know if we left something important outside, we probably had left something important outside, but we have been really careful about what we choose, because we thought that we need to represent the industry in its totality. We have to talk about a wider range of themes, and we have to keep innovating, we have to keep talking about the things that matter.
Bernie J Mitchel 8:49
I was really pleased to see, I think it’s one of the last talks with Iris, and Laura from Women who Cowork, about creating an anti-harassment policy, and some of the sites may be well made. It’s all, I’m going to say sad, how little attention is given to inclusion, diversity, gender, and everything in coworking conferences, and we just did, I don’t know if you knew the workplace trends event just happened in London online. And nearly every talk talked about diversity and inclusion. And it doesn’t seem to be getting the airtime that it needs to get, and it seems really odd and whack how much conversation there is in society about racism and gender, and how female gender has been affected by the lockdown and COVID, and how society has reacted to that. But it’s almost like, I don’t know whether we’re scared to talk about it, or whether it’s just not interesting enough. What do you think?
Marc Navarro 10:01
That’s a nice way to start talking about this topic. I think that people are, I wouldn’t say scared, I think that it’s something which is not nice to talk about, but the problem is that if we don’t talk about it, it’s not going to disappear. So, the only way to make it disappear from our society is to talk about it and talk about it openly. So, I mean, the story behind it is you have always been concerned about the amount of talks we had with woman speakers, because we don’t want to underrepresent. From the very beginning, even before I was part of the work, it’s been conference panel has always been concerned about that. And we had taken several steps in this way in 2018, we had the first gender policy, as far as we know in our working conference in 2019 and 2020 for sure and 21 we keep that, but in 2019 we also managed to get more women speaking 55% in front of 45% of men, which if you talk to a conference organizer, that’s really tough, and I’m proud of it.
Bernie J Mitchel 11:35
I love that you give a shit about that.
Marc Navarro 11:38
Yeah so, in 2020 we screwed up. I mean, it was a big mess, and we didn’t read the words, what’s for us, mandatory but not because of any law, because of our hearts. We can have a woman underrepresented. In society, they are even more than 50%, and we should represent them in a decent way. In the top of every structure, it’s much easier to find a man than a woman. We have to work harder, but it’s my job, it’s our job to do that. I know it’s difficult, but you have to do that, I mean there are no discussions, and we screwed up in 2020, we did it wrong and we did not match our expectation, and that’s not going to happen again. And these are our promises. And when
Bernie J Mitchel 12:50
Maybe last year, as we were putting our events together, I’d say it’s really hard to find people and non-white men, and actually it’s like really hard for white men to find non-white men. There are lots of people, there’s someone called Sonia Thompson, who I’ve known for about five years now, and she runs a whole online membership about inclusive marketing. And in the lockdown she was part of this conference in the States, and basically said like now everything is online. There is no excuse to have a manual because everyone can get to the internet, or not everyone can get to internet, but people are going to be speaking at conferences and can get to the internet, whereas before there were different barriers about travel and budget and everything like this but everything’s open to everyone nowadays. There are things that were published in This Week in Coworking, which is just like a load of white dudes running a real estate coworking thing. And I don’t know how at this stage, they don’t know this.
Marc Navarro 14:17
It’s easier, but before it was not impossible. I mean, we proved it in 2019 physical conference, and we had diversity. It’s true that it may be in some markets more difficult than others, but for example, let’s talk about Iris and Laura. I contacted Lisa in Coworking Europe, and I was talking with her and I asked her about anti-harassment, and she was like, Oh, I know someone who’s very good at it. And we had been talking with Iris to have her 2020 vision. Finally, didn’t take place. It was everything it was digital. It was a big mess, and we didn’t want to have that session in that environment, we wanted to have it in a nice way, on a proper conference.
So, at the end I mean, we are connected through the internet with many places and it’s true that in the future as the digital improved, that it’s not the end of the world, that we can have a speaker talking from the other side of the world and people will be more open to have this. We may see in a conference which may be having someone online talking from the other end of the world, and it will make things easier at the end for us. Having this panel, which is not only about anti-harassment, but are also committed about not having only binary people, and it’s about respect. It’s about doing the right thing. What we like is that I don’t want to say an example because we are not an example of anything, we are just doing what we think is the right thing to do, but we would like to be the first ones but not the last. So, I think that there’s a chance, there’s a challenge for all conference organizers to organize this in panels about something which is meaningful and is why we put it on the last one. I mean this is the last one of the official conference. We may have some fun things afterwards. But this is the end of the conference for us, and it’s very important. And we think that all conferences should care about this, not only Coworking Conference, any conference. Someone has to be the first, and we’re proud that we are the first. We hope we are.
Bernie J Mitchel 17:13
I also want to say, like, for years now, both Nexus and Cobot have been trailblazing this conversation. Back in, either 2018 or 2019, I basically was like Tino, and Adrian, helped us organize an event in London at Bath Tub the boardroom around cultural appropriation, which was an important thing. Marc, is there anything else you want to shout out before we go?
Marc Navarro 18:04
I would say that I would be happy to have people from outside of Spain to attend the conference. There’s a digital one, the budget was much smaller, we have some sessions in English and in Spanish. If you are interested in coworking, we are not only focused on Spain, but we are also focused on coworking. So, we will be happy if you can attend the conference, and if you do please share your thoughts with the team. We really had great feedback from physical conference, we are also very proud that we were close to 20% feedback, which is not easy to get. At the end we do this for the people in the working world, so if there’s no people attending and no feedback from the attendees, it does not make sense to keep doing this. So, thank you very much for inviting me to talk about the conference.
Bernie J Mitchel 19:09
Ladies and gentlemen, we’re going to put a link in the show notes, but the sessions in English are from, I think it Sarah from the Instant Group.
Marc Navarro 19:23
Sarah from the Instant Group, and we also have Pauline, talking about remote work. We have Iris and Laura talking about how to create an anti-harassment policy in your coworking space, which is a conference that they would love you to attend.
Bernie J Mitchel 19:51
The podcast after this one, folks, is with Iris and Laura. So, a week after this one’s published or the next one, they’ll be in Spotify, Apple, or wherever you get your podcasts will be about that, and that’s also connected to the Coworking Idea Project which we’ll put a link in the show notes to which is making coworking more inclusive, diverse, accessible, and equitable. Thanks very much for your time.