National and International Leaders EXPLORE Quality Coworking

At our EXPLORE Quality Coworking learning event this month, we hosted a dozen coworking space leaders for two intensive days of brainstorming and connecting with each other, amplifying their enthusiasm and effectiveness as they progressed plans for their new coworking businesses.

This time around we welcomed attendees from Scotland, the UK and as far afield as Australia... all of whom were at different stages of developing their spaces (from those still in the planning stages to others who had spaces up and running for several months).

The event was such a success that we're already planning for another EXPLORE Quality Coworking event for the Autumn! More news to follow very soon: Check here for updated information! 

Supporting Scotland's First National Coworking Day

We were part of a day of Scotland's first National Coworking Day, with free coworking all over Scotland culminating in a celebratory event with talks, music and drinks where Claire gave a Q&A!

A great day was had by all, and we're already looking forward to next year's event.

More Ways To Stay Connected

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Connect with us wherever you feel most at home:

...and if you can handle even more, join the network for access to exclusive members-only resources! 💪


Last month, Claire flew overseas to attend and contribute to the annual Coworking Unconference Asia, this year held in Penang, Malaysia. Using the Coworking Canvas, she led a participatory workshop to identify key factors which will make or break your coworking business


The Introductions

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Amongst the 24-7 networking, learning and eating (Penang is famous for food!) Claire made time to lead an interactive workshop with over 40 practitioners from the coworking movement.

A coworking-business specific toolkit - the Coworking Canvas - was used to draw out and prioritise the experience and learning of both experts and newbies, as participants explored factors which would make or break a quality coworking business.

An group introduction allowed everyone to get to know each other and grasp the breadth and width of knowledge in the room. Participants could then identify who they could and should connect with, as the room was full of knowledge representing all stages of the coworking-business journey, from start-ups, experienced practitioners and researchers, to pioneers within the coworking movement. A great mix!


Participants were split into six groups so the real work began. Each group was set the task to collectively brainstorm the features that would make or break a coworking space based on the key elements of the Coworking Canvas. Needless to say - there was a lot of ideas as well as noise generated!


The Coworking Canvas

The Coworking Canvas has been specifically designed by the team behind the Coworking Accelerator Network to provide a simple framework for articulating and developing a quality coworking business. This framework is based on over a decade of personal practical experience, plus research with coworking leaders from around the world listening to their ideas, aspirations, hopes and fears for the movement and growing industry.

Through this, we conclude that good quality coworking businesses incorporate three core values:

Coworking Canvas
  1. Belonging
  2. Nurturing and
  3. Place-making

There are six essential elements of delivery to build a successful coworking business:

  1. Co-location
  2. Network
  3. Peer Support
  4. Learning
  5. Hosting and
  6. Space

The Coworking Canvas can be used in a variety of ways to help you construct and adapt all of the essential elements of your quality coworking business model. 


The Results

Each group arrived at a long list of make/break features for their allocated element of the Coworking Canvas. Out of these long-lists, a short list of 'top priorities' were generated:

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With such breadth of knowledge in the room, it was no surprise that the discussion was lively and inspiring for all. Use this list to focus on your business - how well are you doing against the hit-list and action plan where could you do better?

Thank you to all who attended and hope to see you at CUAsia2019!


Stay connected, keep the conversation going and receive more tips and techniques for developing your coworking space: join CONNECT, our peer network offering free knowledge sharing and promotional opportunities for both established spaces and those in development.


Refreshing Beechworth

Old Beechworth Gaol has benefited from a one day, bespoke capacity building of staff development through EXPLORE Sense Check. They were provided with fresh perspectives and experience to spot new business opportunities, problem solve & prioritise an action plan.

"Thanks Claire for a great day yesterday – feeling absolutely energised and there really were some great ideas shared around the team."

– Clayton Neil, COO, Old Beechworth Gaol


Beechworth is a small rural town with a population of 4000, in NE Victoria, Australia, 3.5 hours form Melbourne. 

The Opportunity


Beechworth has a growing local tourism economy because of its heritage architecture, natural beauty, colourful-history (gold, outlaws), food growing & production and vineyards. However most people rely on the nearby larger centres for employment opportunities. There is significant youth and young adult underemployment and unemployment as a result of the seasonal nature of tourism and its highly casualised employment needs. Many people are forced to leave the community in search of career opportunities and ACRE wants to address this issue by supporting entrepreneurship in Beechworth and attracting international tourists to the area.

The Local Leaders

The Australian Centre for Rural Entrepreneurship (a non-profit organisation) has secured the largest community asset buy-back in Australian history, raising $AUS2.7M to secure the town’s old gaol l which closed down in the mid 1990’s. ACRE see quality coworking as critical to the successful future activation of the Old Beechworth Gaol site - as a way to engage local businesses and entrepreneurs, as well as attract and retain young people, new people/families and new businesses to the region.

Why Quality Coworking is Needed Locally

  • To provide opportunities for incubation and acceleration of ideas
  • To connect others who may be working in isolation
  • To enable people to share skills and learn from each other
  • To help create and foster innovation in regional Victoria
  • To provide affordable resources  for people to make business / enterprise happen and therefor create jobs / livelihoods in the area


They aim to combine great lifestyle, cycling, community, food, wine, and beautiful landscapes with a great place to bring your business and grow a young family.

These extensive and highly unusual buildings and grounds will be home to a thriving multi-purpose hub to support local business and tourism activities, including 3 coworking spaces (shared services offices, kitchen and maker-spaces), visitor attractions (Ned Kelly - famous historical outlaw), indoor and outdoor retail spaces, events spaces and cafes.

Aims to be open by mid 2018

Progress made to date

  • Securing funding and investment to purchase the asset and resource some of the capacity required to work up more detailed implementation plans
  • Key stakeholder engagement – at local and regional level
  • Market research, feasibility study, business modelling, action planning
  • Engage external expertise to shape and make progress on their action plan

Key stumbling blocks

  • Gaining permissions / permits
  • Removing left-over infrastructure at the site to make areas usable/ habitable
  • Securing resources for the project management team to activate the site

How their vision has been ACCELERATED

EXPLORE Sense Check provided a day’s on-site capacity building in September 2017 bringing specialist knowledge and insight to the projects’ delivery team. Topics covered included:

  • What is ‘Quality Coworking’? How and why it works. Outlining key elements for success.
  • Site tour and advice on short/medium and long term opportunities.
  • Core products/services, space design for maximising yield and customer satisfaction (i.e. how much can they earn...?)
  • Understanding and defining their staffing model - who will be doing what to deliver this business? Critical experience, skills, qualities, aptitudes.
  • Planning the critical stages, activities and processes needed to open.
  • Post-opening, how do they actually deliver their services?
  • Marketing strategies, messages, methods, customer segment analysis and outreach. Attracting and retaining the right customers.
  • Identifying key risks and mitigation strategies.
  • Core concepts of quality coworking - using the Coworking Canvas for ongoing staff training and influencing stakeholders.


  • Clarity of direction
  • Identification of new business and income opportunities
  • Prioritisation of phased approach to starting multiple businesses
  • Clarity on where to / not to invest their reserves into the site’s development
  • Generate common language and understanding within the team, to better describe their core activities to stakeholders and potential customers
  • Revitalised energy and motivation of the team through start-up stage
  • Understanding of global trends in coworking

Next steps

  • Further leverage the Coworking Accelerator Network’s knowledge and experience in the development of a great quality coworking space at the Old Beechworth Gaol
  • Start earning unrestricted income from sales of easy-to-activate office spaces and provision of venue for events
  • Scale up delivery of the ‘Ned Kelly Experience’ visitor services
  • Activate a small scale café space for visitors

Learn more...

Stirring up Kirkcaldy

The founders of "The Mixer" in Kirkcaldy have benefitted from over 12 months of ongoing support and capacity building of their staff team. The Coworking Accelerator Network's EXPLORE Scoping Support services have provided them with guidance, knowledge and experience, and help in shaping their opportunities.

"We have undertaken a feasibility study and are developing a business plan with a view to developing a shared coworking space here in Kirkcaldy.
"In our opinion The Coworking Accelerator Network’s core values of belonging, nurturing and place-making can be an integral part of Kirkcaldy Town Centre’s regeneration process."

Bill Harvey - BID Coordinator, Kirkcaldy4All


The Opportunity

The coastal town of Kirkcaldy in Fife is some 30 miles NE of Edinburgh, Scotland’s capital city (population circa 50,000). In its heyday the town was famous for its mile-long high street, and seaside promenade. Like many small towns in the UK, over the last 40 years the town has lost its uniqueness and associated vibrancy, and is economically struggling with many empty retail properties, low industry, and inhabitants who commute to the city for work.

The Local Leaders

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Kirkcaldy4All is a non-profit company which runs the BID (Business Improvement District) for the town - though this is up for renewal in 2020. This established local economic development organisation has led many successful and innovative initiatives and works closely with Fife Council who are looking at funding the fit-out of a suitable property to take forward this new idea for the area. 

Why Quality Coworking is Needed Locally

  • For future activation of local entrepreneurs and small businesses, and a way to practically support and engage them to start and grow their business
  • Attracting foot-fall, spend and new business to the town and high street
  • Retain people (especially commuters) in the region and improve their quality of life


To bring a coworking space to Kirkcaldy which will become a hub for local entrepreneurs and businesses, complementing our overall aim to improve the trading environment of the Town Centre.


By 2020, to open 2,500 square feet of shared office (open plan) space located on the High Street above an already thriving retail cluster (coffee shop, quality butcher and ice cream parlour). Core services include:

  • hot-desks
  • fixed desks
  • virtual office services
  • venue hire

Progress made to date

  • Search and identification of suitable premises
  • Key stakeholder engagement and buy-in
  • Identification and securing of some business development resource
  • Market research and feasibility study showing interest and demand
  • Staff training on essential elements needed for delivery of the business model (through EXPLORE Quality Coworking Learning Event)
  • Site visits to other small coworking spaces

Key stumbling blocks

  • Losing out by £1k on securing a building at auction, and associated dip in motivation
  • Lack of resource within a small busy team

How their vision has been ACCELERATED

EXPLORE Scoping Support has provided Kirkcaldy4All with ongoing on-site and remote capacity building consultancy from early 2017 onwards, leveraging our knowledge and experience in the development of their own quality coworking business.

We have supported staff through the business exploration process – market research, feasibility study, business modelling and action planning – including:

  • Engagement with their critical stakeholders - to bring them on board
  • Informing market research activities and feasibility study assessment
  • Site visits of potential buildings and advice on suitability
  • Space and service design for maximising yield
  • Outlining key elements for success in their business model
  • Defining core products/services
  • Planning the critical stages, activities and processes needed to get open
  • Maintaining motivation and momentum
"We are excited at the prospect of bringing this new venture to fruition in the not too distant future."

– Bill Harvey - BID Coordinator, Kirkcaldy4All



  • Motivation of the team through their start-up stage
  • Clarity of opportunity, risks and rewards for their organisation
  • Prioritisation plan of approach
  • Generate common language and understanding within the team, to better describe their core activities to stakeholders and potential customers
  • Expedite appropriate market research
  • Understanding of global trends in coworking
  • Connection with other Scottish-based emerging leaders / place-makers

Next Steps

  • Business modelling and space design in proposed property
  • Planning for and securing resources for fit-out
  • Branding
  • Creating business plan
  • Marketing strategy
  • Marketing and recruitment
  • Staff training
  • Opening

Learn more...

Making Aberdeen the SPACE2b

The founders of Space2b have benefited from over 12 months of ongoing support and capacity building of their staff team through the Coworking Accelerator Network's EXPLORE Scoping SupportThey have benefitted from guidance, knowledge and experience, and support in shaping their business opportunities.

"From my perspective, being part of the Coworking Accelerator Network has been an amazing journey and a very worthwhile process."

- Karen Bain, CPD Manager, Space2b


The Opportunity

Aberdeen, also known as the Granite City, is the third most populated city in Scotland with an estimated population of 197,000 people. Traditional trades and manufacturing were taken over by the oil & gas industry in the 1970’s and Aberdeen became a thriving area for all types of businesses. This trend continued for many years as Aberdeen was the "European Capital for Oil & Gas," and as recently as 2012 was named a leading business hub by HSBC. 

However, since 2016 there has been a drastic downturn in the oil and gas industry with many redundancies and relocation of services taking place. This has obviously resulted in significant changes to Aberdeen and its economic climate, with the city seeing, for the first time, empty retail properties and many skilled professionals leaving the area.

The Local Leaders

Karen Bain, Space2b, attended the EXPLORE Quality Coworking Learning Event (2017)

Karen Bain, Space2b, attended the EXPLORE Quality Coworking Learning Event (2017)

"Space2b" is part of the Aberdeen Day Project, which is a charity. The project also operates "The Bread Maker," a successful social enterprise, supporting adults with a learning disability to train and work in a busy bakery and café environment.

Over the past decade, The Bread Maker has proven itself to be thriving and industrious establishment. It has become the top choice for service users to receive training and placements in the catering industry, of which Aberdeen's local authority is a regular customer.

Aberdeen City Council is a keen advocate for social enterprise and for entrepreneurship and realise the need for it to foster inclusive growth, especially during the current economically challenging times for the city and wider area.

Why Quality Coworking is Needed Locally

  • To inspire local entrepreneurs, freelancers and start up organisations
  • To encourage sharing of ideas and skills in a supportive and productive environment
  • To encourage a sense of partnership working and comradery within the community
  • To give start-ups and small organisations the ability to develop and grow with reduced costs and risks
  • To keep people in the area and give it a vibrancy


The vision driving Space2b is for it to be a dynamic, community-orientated coworking space. It aims to be an attractive alternative to the typical office, serviced areas, home or coffee shop – offering a place to collaborate and concentrate with open-plan, quiet and private spaces to work or hold meetings in. It will provide a range of fully serviced coworking options – fixed desks, hot desks, private offices, virtual office facilities, ample meeting and events spaces and sufficient storage. Friendly, welcoming, operational and flexible, it will offer the social aspects of a shared space, a solution to isolation and an escape from the distractions of home - all at an affordable price for all business stages and types.

Aiming to be open in Spring 2018, with some "soft launch" events beforehand.

Progress made to date

  • Secured 60,000 square feet of open plan space situated close to the city centre on Riverside Drive – with good access to travel links
  • Key stakeholder engagement and buy-in
  • Market research and feasibility study complete, demonstrating interest and demand
  • Premises have been leased and furnished
  • Site visits to other small coworking spaces
  • Brand development and implementation
  • Design and production of marketing materials – currently in production
  • Web site brief created – site is currently under construction
  • IT company consulted to identify how to service our future clients, and systems are now operational
  • Engaged specialist consultants to assist the organisation to develop our quality coworking business as additional revenue generation for our parent charity and to further support our charitable aims
  • Small advisory group being established to create capacity

Key stumbling blocks

  • Capacity – inability to move far forward with project due to unexpected other business commitments meaning a lack of internal resource. Understanding who can help (not hinder) the initiative, and the skills needed for getting started, and recruiting those volunteers
  • Funding – funding streams and investment opportunities
  • Gauging the pricing of our services in a depressed market
  • Service design – what else could we do with the space, what can we offer, how can we be unique
  • Building the sales pipeline – understanding where to get the right clients from
  • Lack of relationships with key stakeholders and external organisations

How their vision has been ACCELERATED

Our EXPLORE Scoping Support has provided Space2b with ongoing, on-site and remote capacity building consultancy from early 2017 onwards, leveraging knowledge and experience in the development of their own coworking business. We have supported their staff through the business exploration process, including:

  • Defining core products and services in alignment with their vision
  • Planning of critical stages, activities and processes needed to get open
  • Site visit to leased premises for advice on space and service design for maximising yield
  • Financial model discussed and capacity modelling tool introduced to gauge potential income and expenditure
  • Personal introductions to local influential people and external organisations
"It can be a lonely place trying to start-up something new and hard to know which way to turn or who to ask. 
"The [Coworking Accelerator] team have managed to take some of the fear away, and set us on the right track making the experience an exciting one again. Their support and advice has been invaluable and it is always honest and instructive. 
"I feel more motivated and informed to be able to go ahead and open a quality coworking space, one which will have similar core values and the integrity to The Melting Pot."

– Karen Bain, CPD Manager, Space2b



  • Clarity of opportunity, risks and rewards for the organisation
  • Motivation of the team through the start-up phase
  • Understanding of global trends in coworking
  • Connection with other Scottish based emerging leaders/ place-makers
  • Connections to local influencers

Next steps

  • Finalise space design
  • Revise / finalise product offerings and pricing structure
  • Build team capacity – get more people on board who are willing and able to help
  • Funding – revisit and apply for appropriate start-up capital & revenue funds
  • Marketing plan and enquiry records – to attract and respond to our sales pipeline
  • Extend our relationships in the community – to get referrals and leads
  • Website –implement and add ‘buy-now’ functionality for our services
  • Social media campaign – to be started
  • Open for business

Learn more...