On May 22 New Zealand will be hosting a National Coworking Day to celebrate the  global movement that is taking the world by storm.

Last year, New Zealand’s National Coworking Day brought nearly 40 spaces around the country together, and with more spaces opening up around the country each month, there is no doubt that this event will be an even larger success this year.

Kevin Double is the Co-founder of Confluence, a thriving coworking space in Whanganui, New Zealand, and is also the co-host of New Zealand’s National Coworking Day. Kevin and his business partner, Melita, who also happens to be his wife, have far larger plans for coworking aside from owning a space and organizing a National Coworking day. This year New Zealand’s National Coworking Day day will also celebrate the launch of a global initiative called the Twinned Coworking Community,  which is aimed to bring coworking spaces around the world together through the commonality of coworking.

We had the pleasure of interviewing Kevin, so here you can find out everything you need to know about New Zealand’s National Coworking Day, the Twinned Coworking Community and how you can get involved with this amazing global initiative!

May 22, 2018 will be recognized as the official National Coworking Day in New Zealand. Can you share what will this day will entail?

The first event in 2017, which was very much a “Hey New Zealand, have you heard of coworking? Did you know your local space is here and open for free today”,  i.e. one of discovery for many. We are now keen to promote the celebration of all that coworking brings to the new economic models of business. For example my first job back in the UK, where I grew up, was in the civil service. They were an organisation that often put place before people – I even had a special clause in my agreement called a geographic clause that meant if my job moved to another town I could claim redundancy – but all other pay grades above me didn’t have this so were expected to move around as their jobs did.

There was a sense that you had to all be together to do the same thing, whereas now (ahem 20 or so years later) more companies, big and small, see that being together but doing your own things is better. Better than one big organization like the civil service, better because your business does not need to maintain or run property and all that entails, and better because the people you share the space with are not your competitors, so you don’t need to encourage sharing and goodwill, it just happens.

That’s what we want National Coworking Day to celebrate, and we do this by removing common barriers to people trying the spaces out – fear of the unknown and cost – so we open as many spaces as we can across the country, at the same time, and all for free with no cross-selling or strings attached. Simple, uncomplicated, and hopefully a great introduction to coworking and their local spaces for people.

How can other spaces participate in New Zealand’s National Coworking Day?

This year we are asking spaces to offer either the National Coworking Day itself as free coworking (22 May), or that whole week from 21 May, or for a few spaces they are offering the entire month of May free to new coworkers.

New Zealand coworking spaces can register to take part, which is free, by filling out the form, I then add them to the map and also the Techweek events listings, because we’re again partnering with Techweek. This is a nationwide series of events to celebrate innovation. This year its theme is innovation that’s good for the world. There will be events up and down the country to showcase and present innovation and technology to people, and many of these will be held in coworking spaces. So the fit is perfect for us and the growing awareness of both events is mutually beneficial.

What are your hopes for this day in terms of spreading coworking awareness?

I hope more business owners who want quality staff appreciate that they don’t need to house them in one big hive and act as some sort of overseer. Trust people to work well apart from you but connected to others. This is something we’re seeing more of for new people arriving to the regional towns – their bosses are even encouraging them to work from a coworking space rather than alone at home. After-all it is healthier for them, good for the town economy and small business owners who run the spaces, and actually sparks innovation and growth.

What are you hoping members and spaces  get out of the event?

That feeling of connectivity to others, be that space owners or members.  New Zealand is a small country but it is not always easy to get about between towns so people can become trapped in small circles – or trapped in the main cities and not know anything about the small, often quirky, towns and people there. Amazing business already happens in the smallest places in NZ – and often those people are still in garden sheds or home offices – so during and after the event we want more of those people to connect to people already in coworking spaces.

One other exciting piece of news being released on the National Coworking Day is the global launch of Twinned Coworking Community scheme. Could you share what “twinning” is for those who are unfamiliar with the concept and how you see it applied within the coworking world?

The concept twinning is to connect individual coworking spaces and communities across the globe through an official pairing process. The concept was first practiced between different towns and countries after WW2 to encourage people to learn to know other people are the same as them – not the enemy, not the allies, just people with the same daily goals, wins, and losses. Coworking twinning will start from a common place that even the most diverse coworking spaces all share. All coworkers have a desk for example – OK some are on beaches and some are up mountains – but all provide some sort of space where you can work.

Each participating coworking space around the world will be linked to one in another part of the world. This link will be established by the global community of coworking itself, using a global platform to help identify them and start the discovery process.

The main mission of the Twinning Coworking Community scheme is to create meaningful connections between coworking communities around the world by highlighting similarities and celebrating differences. This will allow for meaningful relationships to be constructed between coworking spaces in different countries, and cultures.

Once a link is established between coworking spaces they will be encouraged to promote this on their websites and within their spaces. A photo wall is a great way to share things and does not rely upon power or a computer. Letter writing between spaces and their members is also another fantastic way to develop tangible connections that go beyond digital text. But emails are also fine, and social media of course. So, nothing more formal beyond a link and a unique logo displaying their twin. No expensive state visits or organized this or that events, but just establishing a common connection of coworking extended from one place to your place.

When does the Twinning Coworking Community scheme start?

This global initiative will be officially launched during New Zealand’s National Coworking day on May 22, 2018, matching New Zealand based coworking spaces with other coworking spaces around the world. Make sure you do not miss the live announcement of their global twinned coworking communities being broadcasted live at 2pm (NZDT).

Why is it important for coworking spaces around the world  to work together?

I mentioned the common things like desks before, but of course the most common thing is people. There is a New Zealand Māori proverb which starts with the question: He aha te mea nui o te ao which translates in English as: What is the most important thing in the world?

The answer is simply:  He tangata, he tangata, he tangata

Which in English is: It is the people, it is the people, it is the people

That’s why coworking spaces should work together.

Anything else you would like to add?

Come to New Zealand in May, especially the 22 May and no matter where you are, I promise I will find you a free coworking day! OK, you may need to drive through some of the most amazing countryside, meeting great people along the way. So you may not want to do much actual work when you eventually arrive in the space, but didn’t someone once say life is all about the journey?

National Coworking Day New Zealand

Sunset in Whanganui, New Zealand