Bonus! Voici le questions-réponses original, en anglais, pour l’article sur le coworking dans le Financial Times. Reproduit bien entendu avec la permission de Ian.
- When/why did you set up eclau?
- I set up eclau in November 2008. I’d been interested in coworking for a while, and after I organized the Going Solo conference in Lausanne, other interested freelancers motivated me to actively pursue the project of opening a space in Lausanne (there were none).
- How much were you driven by creating something you needed yourself?
- Very much! I’d just spent about four months early 2008 working non-stop for Going Solo. I’d collapse in bed in the evening with the computer next to me, and grab it again as soon as my eyes were open. Realize at 4pm that I was hungry, still in my dressing-gown and in bed. Sound familiar?
At that point the idea of having a separate place to work seemed more attractive. Until then I’d been quite happy to stay at home and work with my cat on my lap.
I set up eclau as the workspace I wanted, and it attracts people who are looking for something similar.
- What’s the mix of residents in terms of business sector/role/discipline?
- A couple of developers, an architect, a translator, a music consultant, a social media consultant (me!), a communication consultant (maybe a second one soon), a language teacher…
Eclau aims to attract primarily people who are really freelancers and work solo. We have some entrepreneurial-minded people, but not many — the space is not really designed for companies.
- In a world where wifi is everywhere and people can work out of local coffee shops, why do you think co-working spaces are still popular?
- In Lausanne, wifi is definitely not everywhere! A coworking space offers interaction (here in Switzerland you don’t usually strike up a conversation with the person at the table next to you in the café) and calm to concentrate on work. Over time, ties are created between those who use the coworking space.Here in Switzerland, I wouldn’t say coworking spaces are "still" popular. It’s a very new idea for people. Swiss culture likes institutions — the informal coworking format takes many out of their comfort zone.
- Has eclau seen any good examples of collaboration or cross-pollination on projects/ideas?
- Yes, definitely! A video-game entrepreneur got together with a designer to publish a magazine selling derived products from the game (this actually became the entrepreneur’s main business). Two developers started a company together. A stylist and the aforementioned video-game entrepreneur moved on from the coworking space to set up their own office-shop in which they could keep their stock and display it. Coworkers also regularly use each other’s professional services — barter or invoices.
- How much of a factor is social interaction for attracting people to coworking spaces?
- I think it’s an important factor, though I’m wary of putting the "co" before the "working". Some spaces have so much going on to feed the "social interaction" side (events, lunches, brainstorms, involving the community) that people end up not being able to work properly at the coworking space!
I think solo workers need interaction and contacts with their peers, but it doesn’t have to come in massive doses. People have a chat during break, sometimes launch into a bigger conversation, get to know each other over time. It happens naturally.