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    Coworking; it’s more than just a desk.

    The journey of any coworker starts with a simple request; “I’d like to rent a desk” and usually followed by, “how does it work”.

    I get asked that question nearly 5 to 6 times a day, from people looking to get out of the house and home office environment and into a shared office, where they can come to and get some work done. Of course, I give them all the information such as cost, what’s included and how our membership is structured, but what I can’t tell them (yet), is just how much more there is to coworking than simply renting a desk in an office.

    I mean, how can you? For the most part,  it’s fair to say that my experience will differ from yours as yours will from mine, but in this world of coworking and indeed Cape Town Office, I can tell you this.  Every single coworker that’s come through the door has at one point or another said this to me…”it’s so much more than I could ever have imagined”. The reason for this in 99% (and I’ll tell you about the 1% is in a moment) of cases, is the people, their new coworkers.

    It’s not just someone that they’re sitting next to in an office, it’s someone they go hiking up Lions Head with before work. It’s someone they go surfing with, or surf school because they’ve always wanted to learn and now they have someone to do it with. It’s someone they go trail running with on a Saturday in Stellenbosch. It’s someone they meet up with on a Sunday morning to watch the cricket over breakfast in the Waterfront, because let’s face it, it’s not something my wife loves doing any day, but especially a Sunday.

    ctocrewlionshead

    The other 1%? Well, they claim it’s Pac-Man ….so who am I to argue with that.

    Coworking is a VERB,  the space we do it in is secondary to the people we do it with is how Adam Teterus of Indy Hall so beautifully explained it at CWA2015. And I for one, couldn’t agree more.

    Happy October kids x

    October 10, 2016
    Africa Cape Town co-working Collaborate community cowork coworking Internet networking Not for Profit Shared Office SouthAfrica

    Conservation Coworking

    Coworking unusual

    CSA Ops Team 2016

    January 2016

    I received a phone call from Amanda, head of Operations for Conservation South Africa. They need office space. I was a little thrown by the idea that a “traditional” crowd like CSA were keen to explore coworking, but Amanda explained that they were in a desperate situation as their current office had awful internet and they simply can’t get any work done.

    When Amanda and the team arrived for the first viewing I could tell from the expressions and the look of fear on their faces, that this would be a giant leap from what they know. “We have to work in an open plan office?” I overheard someone saying and “But what if they hear us on the phone?” from another. As I’ve done my fair share of viewings, I thought, well this was worth a shot, but clearly coworking is not for them.

    To my absolute surprise, Amanda called me a day or two later; “The rest of the team want to see the space, when can we come for a 2nd viewing?” To cut a long story short, they came and saw and the board approved the move. From day one, due to our rather brilliant internet here, the team were up and running with a tunnel straight to their USA data center, a first for team CSA I might add, and they just blended right in to the 3rd floor.

    At first, there was reluctance from the rest of the CSA crew to adapt to this “new” way of working, but to their credit, the Operations team focused on the bits that worked and before they knew it, they were 21st century coworkers and loving it. Meeting new people over a cup of coffee, bringing in cookies to share with the office and even joining the office lunch at Dias Tavern!

    It was an absolute pleasure having the team here for 6 months. They’ve now moved into their own (bigger office) in a more central location (Southern Suburbs) for the extended team to make use of as well.

    Amanda and I got to chatting a few weeks before the big move and what delighted me most was to hear from her that their time at Cape Town Office has hands down been the most productive time, ever for CSA. They’ve learnt so much from the experience in fact that when they designed their new office, they replicated their work pod from Cape Town Office so that the team can continue to work together, rather than splitting them up into separate offices as they did before.

    Well done to Amanda and the team for being brave enough to try something new & we wish you all the best in your new CSA home.

    I thought I’d share this as a testament to the fact that we do work better when we cowork!

    Photocred to CTO member, David Harris

    September 16, 2016
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    Coworking Africa, a growing community.

    coworking-Africa-Conference-2015-970X180

    Coworking Africa

    On the 5th of February we had the 2nd meetup of Coworking Africa at the Design Bank, in the East City of Cape Town. Organised by the Coworking Europe crew, this was very much a spur of the moment event as a follow on from the very first gathering in 2015.

    Like the first #CWAfrica conference, the content was rich and the contributors all evangelical about the growth of the coworking movement on African soil. What’s clear is that we [operators / owners] are all passionate about the people we’re creating these amazing spaces for; the freelancers, the entrepreneurs, the lone rangers out on a mission to start his/her own business and desperate to get out of “coffee shop working” and into a community of like minds. We understand how crucial enabling this environment is to the bigger picture, i.e. the growth of our economy and that any part we can play in helping the start-ups and small businesses can only be a great thing for the South African and greater African economy.

    For example, we heard at the meet up that there’s so much good news around the growth of Fintech in Cape Town, be it the vast amount of talent Cape Town has to offer the Tech (global) scene, that could rival any San Francisco, London and Silicon Valley today. And the influx of investment that leads to the creation of more Hubs and Incubators that in turn feeds beautifully into coworking spaces. It’s all very good news!

    Now for the part that’s not so good… YET! A clear message from the unconference part of the day was that more needs to be done to assist those who live outside of our cities, in townships and informal settlements to help become part of our coworking communities. It’s not enough to offer discounted or even free space to these entrepreneurs and freelancers. Paying for a desk is only one part of the problem, what about the nearly R2,000 per month to travel in and out of town on top, not to mention lunch!

    We don’t have the answers to these complex social issues, not by a long shot, but participating in platforms like Coworking Africa brings us a little closer to finding those sustainable solutions. I look forward to the continued discussion around this subject and welcome you – yes you reading this – to put forward any ideas on how we can make this a reality.

    A big thanks to Vanessa and Coworking Africa for putting the day together with the help of Steven from The Design Bank and all the lovely people I met on the day! To catch the presentations and an overview by the organisors, read up about it here, http://coworkingafrica.com/2016/02/15/a-look-back-at-the-second-coworking-africa-2016-meetup/

    Keep an eye out for the next meetup & hope to see you there!

    Lizelle

     

    February 15, 2016
    Africa Business Cape Town co-working coworking Entrepreneur Internet Shared Office SouthAfrica

    Internet: how much is enough?

    Learning

    Internet.

    How much is enough?

    South Africa seems to be on its own planet when it comes to internet and in the nigh on 5 years I’ve been back, I’ve had to learn….fast from novice to level expert, well I think so.

    I spent nearly 12 years in the UK and there I pretty much saw the birth of broadband and it was so accessible that our house in the Western Isles of Scotland was gifted, yes gifted a desktop PC, modem and of course internet with it. As a South African, I couldn’t believe this generosity and of course took full advantage of this amazing resource. I surfed and surfed and surfed and no care in the world about data, what was data anyway?

    Well in 2010 that all changed. I was asked the question by the friendly man in the Telkom shop the day I opened my ADSL account, “How much data would you like?” I looked at him with a very puzzled expression on my face and simply replied, quite confidently, “I’d like all of it please”.  He laughed. I soon realised I was in a warped Oliver Twist novel with my bowl out in front of the Telkom man, “please Sir, can I have some more”.

    I now know how much data I need to do my work, so if I’m asked that question today I’ll have a very different answer. Fact is I don’t really use that much for the work I do. Skype (lots of), emails of course and CRM systems is where the bulk goes, so when we looked at options for Fibre

    Bandwidth Bandwidth Bandwidth

    Fast forward to 2015 and the dawn of accessible Fibre. So what have I learnt? A few things actually:

    1. Bandwidth is king
    2. Find out what your contention ratio is
    3. Negotiated data bundles = great value
    4. Have a back up plan in place, even fibre can go dark

    We took our time to find the provider that suited our needs best at Cape Town Office and as we don’t have corporate budgets, we had to be very selective. Early on we learnt about a little thing called contention ratios. What’s this you ask? Well that’s (and this is my understanding of it) the minimum bandwidth the provider can guarantee at any one time. We have a 2:1 contention ratio at CTO, both for local and international traffic which works brilliantly and in real applications does the job!

    Of course you could work from home and sort out your own Fibre, but be warned … it aint cheap. Costs for a 20Mbps line start at R7,000 + VAT without data and in any currency, that’s a fair amount of money.

    Think of it this way – you could rent 3 desks at our office with the 100 Mbps Fibre with free coffee or tea, if that’s your thing, for less than that per month and still have spare change for beer!

    Kinda makes sense, right?

    January 22, 2016
    Africa Business Cape Town co-working community coworking Entrepreneur flexoffice hub Not for Profit Shared Office SouthAfrica Uncategorized workcation

    Time flies

    capetownoffice

    It’s been an exciting couple of months here at CTO. We had the crew from Touch Foundation visit from Tanzania who decided on Cape Town as a go-to workcation destination. They took full advantage of all that the Cape has to offer visitors during their 7 week stay and I dare say the experience is one that will leave a lasting impression. Always lovely to see this beautiful place we call home through the eyes of visitors…reminds us of just how lucky we are!

    It was an absolute pleasure getting to know Karin, Renae, Andrew, Dancho, Sarah, Vallerio and Massi who do such amazing work in the health care sector in Tanzania.

    Never heard of Touch Foundation? Well here’s a little snippet:

    Touch Foundation is a secular, non-profit organization committed to improving the health of the Tanzanian population by strengthening the health system across the different levels of care. Touch expands its impact by sharing the acquired knowledge with the local and international public health community.

    So here we are with less than 5, yes … 5 weeks till the end of 2015 and I can’t believe how time flies. It’s been an incredible year for CTO and there’s so much to talk about that I’ve decided this year to write a proper Directors’ Report with the highs and lows of coworking life at CTO which I’ll publish in the coming weeks.

    If you’re starting or thinking of starting a new business in 2016, get in touch. We’re always looking for cool, creative and inspiring entrepreneurs to join our clan.

    Have fun!

    November 25, 2015
    Africa Business Business Plan Cape Town co-working Collaborate cowork coworking Entrepreneur Entrepreneur Network networking SouthAfrica Start-up Uncategorized

    CTO Member Spotlight: October

    AfricanDreams

    African Dreams

    So I’ve decided to dedicate one post per month to a member’s business here at Cape Town Office and so ladies and gentleman may I introduce you to African Dreams.

    African Dreams is the brainchild of Danielle who arrived at Cape Town Office a few months ago after more than 10 years of living and working in Hong Kong. In that time she built up an incredible network of businesses in China through her company, Guanxi Connections, providing Event management | Design | Marketing services, just take a look at what some of her clients had to say, www.guanxi-connections.com/testimonials.html

    But, like any entrepreneur, she quickly saw that there’s an opportunity for her here in South Africa to bring China a  little closer to Africa and indeed bring Africa closer to China through African Dreams. She has carefully selected a diverse range of African products such as Organic food supplements, Specialty teas to Eco-furniture available via the website.

    So spread the news far and wide folks and help this entrepreneur get this business off the ground in style!

    To contact Danielle and chat about importing/exporting goods to China, you’ll find her here.

    Twitter: https://twitter.com/BuyDanielle

    Email:  info@guanxi-connections.com

    WEB: http://www.africandreams.co/

     

    October 15, 2015
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    Coworking Africa – Cape Town – 23 & 24 July 2015

    Announcing the 1st Coworking Africa conference!

    More than 5.500 coworking spaces operate worldwide. Now, the Coworking wave has hit Africa. For the first time, the African coworking community is invited to gather in Cape Town, on July 23th and 24th 2015.

    Day 01: Insightful keynotes and panel discussions on the latest trends and inspiring stories from the Coworking community from Africa and beyond.

    Networking cocktail at The Design Bank coworking space.

    Day 02: Unconference – A whole day of barcamp which attendees choose and facilitate participatory workshops to celebrate collaboration and to share best practices. We will make sure there will be even more collaboration, interactions and meaningful encounters this year.

    Cape Town Coworking Tour

    At the end of the Barcamp/Unconference, on the second day, groups will leave for a guided tour of the Cape Town Coworking scene, across the city. The tour will end at the cocktail/party venue.

    Closing party at Cape Town Garage coworking space.

    Get a discount on the regular price !

    Two days left for booking your Coworking Africa conference Early Bird ticket. It will be available only until April 15th. Register now ! (http://coworkingafrica.com/book-now/)

    Feel free to call me or mail me if you have any questions!

    Lizelle – lizelle@capetownoffice.com / +2771 7620960

     

    Not sure what to expect? Check out highlights of the 2014 Coworking Europe Conference.

    Banner Big CWA 2015

    April 13, 2015