- 17 May 2013
In simpler terms, let us point out two things:
Since the end of the 20th century, we have seen changes in the way work is done, such as telework, business incubators, business centres and, urged on by the recession, experiences based on making profitable free spaces in which all the professionals present share the expense.
More recently, a new approach has arrived from the United States, one that goes even farther and that is based on the ‘co’ philosophy: sharing knowledge, collaborating and setting up synergies, creating partnerships with which to do business and cooperating to compete. This is coworking, a form of working through which professionals find new opportunities for growth, both on a personal and professional level.
This formula allows the self-employed or entrepreneurs to share in the fixed costs of an establishment (rent, etc.), keep from being isolated and avoid the distractions that go along with working from home (telework), and broaden and enjoy a network of professional and, most importantly, direct contacts, all the while maintaining the material conditions necessary to serve their clients.
Coworking is still a new and little-known activity in Catalonia, although its future prospects are more than encouraging. Over the last 4 or 5 years, various spaces have been started, made more or less dynamic by their promoters, some specialising in professional sectors (mostly architecture, audiovisual production, plastic arts, and so forth), where a mostly foreign population carries out their business activity while enjoying the city’s good climate and tourist and cultural sites.
Coworking has not just appeared out of the blue, completely disassociated from the current economic situation and job market; instead it can be seen as the evolution of other consolidated forerunners such as telework, business hotels and business incubators.
The growth and consolidation of this new type of work, understood as the evolution of a reality we know full well, must not go unnoticed. What’s more, it must be used as yet another element with which to reactivate the economy, which goes hand in hand with technological development and evolution. That is why we venture to say technology and economic crisis are the progenitors of coworking here in Catalonia.
Here you can see a report from a programme of the Local Television Network (XTVL), which will give you a better idea of what this new of way of working means.
A total of 12 managers, organisations and projects from the Catalan ICT Point Network (XPT) are entering the 1st Global Telecentre Awards, organised by the Telecentre.org Foundation. This prize, recognising the work of Internet access and ICT centres throughout the world, will particularly value aspects such as public participation, social innovation and sustainability.
Telecentre.org is a foundation that promotes the creation and sustainability of telecentres at international level as places for promoting public access to the Internet and to information and communication technologies (ICT). For this year’s awards, the organisation has received a total of 261 proposals, which can be seen at the following link and which the public can vote for online during April. The three winning projects in each section will then be assessed by a committee of specialists, who will choose the winners. During the SPARK 2013 Global Forum on Telecentres, which will take place in Granada on 28 and 29 May, Telecentre.org will announce the 6 winners and will present the corresponding prizes.
Representatives of the ICT Point Network will have a chance of winning four of the six different categories into which the awards are organised.
These are the entrants, by category:
o Teb Youth Association Òmnia Point, Barcelona
• Telecentre manager:
o Jèss Zomeño, La Font dels Capellans Residents’ Association Òmnia Point, Manresa
o Mercè Fort, Santa Bàrbara ICT Point Infocentre
o Alexandra Bozonet, Sant Pau-Santa Creu Library ICT Point, Barcelona
o David Picó, Grupo Unión Òmnia Point, Sant Adrià de Besòs
o Pascal Cousseran, Sant Roc Community Centre Òmnia Point, Badalona
o Marc Pascual, Casal dels Infants Òmnia Point, Barcelona
• Telecentre network:
o Lleida Telecentre Network
o ICT Point Network
• Telecentre innovation:
o Social innovation ICTs in using and improving electronic administration, from the Ribera d’Ebre ICT Point
o Platform for social uses of NICTs, from the Sant Roc Community Centre Òmnia Point, Badalona
o Enterprise and digital social innovation centres, from the La Torre del Roser ICT Point, Sant Feliu de Llobregat
Although it is not presenting any entries in the categories recognising the best initiative and best information access centre, the participation of the Catalan ICT Point Network in this competition is very considerable, with entries that have real chances of winning the various awards. The presence of a manager from the Catalan Government’s Directorate-General for Telecommunications and the Information Society, Sergi Marcén, as a member of the jury is also an important feature. A win for any of the entries presented would involve new recognition of the work done at Catalan telecentres, which was already highlighted in 2012 with the presentation of the award for the best European manager to Esther Collado, of the Òmnia-ICT Point at the L’Escorxador Community Centre, La Seu d’Urgell.
Begun in 2002 as a joint project between the Ministry of Enterprise and Labour and the Ministry of Social Welfare and Family of the Government of Catalonia, the network brings together different initiatives—the Òmnia project, teleworking telecentres, libraries and other associations or municipal centres—offering all members of the public and groups the opportunity to access the knowledge society. There are now more than 700 ICT Points working in two basic core areas: promoting technology among the public and the socioeconomic fabric of Catalonia and improving the quality of life and autonomy of people.
Success in achieving these aims depends largely on the role of the manager: the agent who detects the area’s needs, supports members of the public in their first steps in the digital world and turns the points into centres for information, training, community work, employability, participation and innovation, as well as economic driving forces.