Three of the P-IRIS partners presented their lessons learned on establishing co-working spaces at the P-IRIS final conference 11th of February. At the conference, the P-IRIS partners presented our key messages to our Managing Authorities. One of our suggestions - was to establish co-working spaces and this theme got a lot of attention from the MA representatives receiving our recommendations.

We have asked Danijel Bertović (PINS), Igor Košir (DCHS) and Maria Timo-Huhtala (Central Ostrobothnia) to make a summary of the challenges and the main lessons learned.

Challenges of establishing and running rural coworking spaces, P-Iris approach

There are many differences between rural coworking spaces and coworking spaces in big cities. The most significant differences are:

  • The average age of coworkers in rural areas is usually higher than in big cities;
  • Encounters of different age groups give young rural coworkers an opportunity to share their skills with new technology and more mature coworkers an opportunity to share their career experience and networking;
  • Coworkers in small towns use their coworking space less often than those in larger cities because they have more space at home, many have families who occupy their time, there is a lack of public transport in rural areas;
  • During COVID19 pandemic a lot has changed, remote work and rural areas are on everybody’s lips but some coworking spaces have been closed as co-working & remote working spaces have not been considered safe. For this reason, it’s important to have in mind people safety and organisation of work within these spaces. The main challenges that P-IRIS partners identified are: how to attract more young people, and how to keep users on the right track – motivate them to visit and use coworking space more regularly.

The main lessons learned in running rural coworking space are:

  • Rural coworking spaces – are mainly used for networking, socializing and education of entrepreneurs, less for traditional distant work to avoid commuting
  • Physical visit to location is important due to a better understanding of benefits for users;
  • Promotion and prompt PR in the local community is vital (digital channels and word of mouth);
  • Multifunctional space in rural areas – combining with some other services (Caffe, drop off point, on-line market place, pop-up store…);
  • Further equipping of coworking spaces with some smaller items (e.g. 3D printer, the Laser engraver, software…) – reaching a higher position on technology readiness level (TRL) scale;
  • Creation of rural-rural and rural-urban connections;
  • Local municipalities get the body who can help to grow micro-businesses and start-uppers;
  • Local public sector (municipalities, county, library, schools etc.) can generate some demand for products produces by the members in coworking spaces;
  • Public support for rural coworking is needed for starting and working in the first 3-5 years period.

Rural coworking spaces create stronger and committed local community and because of new remote-working and studying culture rural areas can benefit in the future.

More on establishing rural co-working spaces and lessons learned in the presentation by Danijel Bertović in our Library.


Prepared by P-IRIS project partners: Danijel Bertović, Igor Košir, Maria Timo-Huhtala 

Danijel Bertović (PINS) presenting lessons learned on establishing rural co-working spaces

Co-working space developed in Slovenia as a pilot project