In this interview with Karsten Deppert, founder of Mindpark, we discuss the current state of coworking and what is in store for the near future. Don’t have time to read through the interview or have a preference for hearing people talk? You can also listen to this interview via Spotify!
What is the name of your coworking space?
We have a bunch of coworking spaces called the Mindpark, located in Sweden.
How many members does Mindpark have?
We have around 800 members currently.
What type of companies work at Mindpark, and is there a more prevalent group among them?
We’re a very mixed group. We have companies from different backgrounds, different fields, and different sizes. Part of what we do is exposing freelancers, entrepreneurs, startups, creative teams, but also bigger corporations, to each other. We believe in putting different people together so they might learn from each other and inspire each other to grow in innovative ways.
What makes Mindpark unique? What is your defining strength you would say?
I would say that this variety of members is one of our strengths. And then our locations are also very centrally located and easy to get to in different ways. For example, if you’re based on the ground floor, you’d always be able to enter the office from the street. And we also try to have a very open atmosphere. We want to be as welcoming and open as possible.
Compared to pre-pandemic times. Do you notice a change in your community and membership base?
There’s some change, but I would actually say a lot less has changed than we originally expected. The main thing that changed is that we’ve seen an influx of people who’ve started using our coworking space as an extra office and alternative to working from home.
We’ve also noticed larger corporations showing more of an interest in coworking. They are mainly looking to make use of the increased flexibility and the ability to easily set up regional hubs.
However, we did expect the changes to be a lot more drastic than they have been thusfar.
Do you see that as something positive? The fact that these changes haven’t been as drastic, I mean.
Oh, I don’t know. I see it as something rather neutral, I must say. Things were fine before, they’re fine now, and I’m sure they will continue to be fine in the future.
With these, albeit not so drastic, changes the past few years, have you changed your offering at all? And if so, how?
Yeah, we’ve experimented quite a lot. One thing we did was collaborate with different cafés in our neighbourhood by offering a pass that allows members to work at our spaces as well as at these cafés. Unfortunately, we later had to scrap that project.
With larger corporations trying out coworking, we’ve also come up with plans that make more sense for their needs. Such as giving them the possibility to use our offices as complimentary spaces for their existing offices, which they then only use on given days.
What changes do you see happening in the flexible workspace market right now?
One thing that’s very noticeable is that corporates are more aware of coworking, and appreciate it for its ability to provide flexibility. I believe this will have a large impact on the future of coworking as well. The potential size of the coworking market just gets that much larger with corporates thrown in the mix.
That’s not to say they will start dominating this space on their own. You still see a steady increase in the amount of smaller businesses and freelancers who seek office space within coworking spaces. With all these types of professionals sharing the same workspace, I believe the boundaries between these workers will also fade. Remote working really has had a significant impact in that sense.
The rise of remote and hybrid working, as you mentioned, is quite noticeable. It’s changed the way that corporates and other professionals perceive the function of the office. What does this mean for coworking spaces?
It means different things for different coworking spaces. We have a lot of private offices at our coworking spaces. So for us, we haven’t seen that big of an effect, but we definitely still noticed.
One very noticeable thing is how often people are attending meetings from behind their laptop. Digital meetings are hot. So you need to have the right spaces for that. Which in our case means small meeting rooms, telephone booths, or even private offices.
What do you wish you had known about the flexible workspace market six months ago?
It would have been very nice to know how the demand would evolve. It’s easy to predict there will be a change, but it’s much harder to know how fast and how significant that change will be. Knowing back then how big the demand would have gotten would have been very useful.
That bring us to our final question: what does the future of coworking look like?
I think we will see a ‘nichification’ of the coworking industry. Some spaces cater towards specific industries. Others differentiate themselves with what they offer. For example, you have spaces that invest heavily in extra services such as restaurants or cafés. While other spaces opt to keep their offering simple and stick to an open office in which you can book your desk. Right now, that nichification is already here to a lesser extent, but it isn’t that well defined yet. I think it’ll become more noticeable in the future.
And with that final insight, let’s wrap up this episode of The State of Coworking. Karsten, thank you so much for doing the interview with me.
Are you interested in learning more about Mindpark and what they do? Then make sure to visit their website at www.mindpark.se.