Behind The Scenes At GCUC London: A Q&A With UK Producer, Tim Devitt

GCUC UK promises to leave attendees with a plethora of valuable insights and takeaways, covering topics from the future of work and proptech, to the place of coworking within the larger CRE industry
  • The UK edition of the Global Coworking Unconference Conference (GCUC) will take place on Monday 23rd September in  London. 
  • The event will address proptech, the future of work, and the evolution of coworking and its place within the wider CRE industry.
  • An afternoon  session titled “Defining the New Way of Working” promises to be an insightful one, aiming to help coworking operators understand the true (and changing) needs of coworking members.

The UK edition of the Global Coworking Unconference Conference (GCUC) lands in London on Monday 23rd September 2019, featuring a stellar lineup of speakers and panellists from the worlds of coworking, technology, hospitality, and more.

Keynote presenter Antony Slumbers will open proceedings with a presentation on proptech, innovation and the future of work, which will set the scene for further discussions on the evolution of coworking and its place within the wider commercial real estate industry.

Ahead of the conference, Allwork.Space took a peek behind the scenes courtesy of Tim Devitt, GCUC UK Producer, to find out how preparations are coming along and what attendees can expect from the three-day event.

Allwork.Space: With just 4 weeks to go, how are plans coming along for the big event?

Tim Devitt: I’m pleased to say that everything is under control and coming along nicely! We’re very excited to be delivering our second UK conference, we have a great lineup and some very interesting topics on the agenda. We have an excellent keynote to look forward to with Antony [Slumbers], his topic is ‘The Winds of Change’ and he’s going to be talking about coworking, space-as-a-service, the opportunities and challenges for operators, and what the future holds for our industry.

Allwork.Space: You’ve had a steep learning curve since signing up to GCUC. Tell us a little about your background.

I came to GCUC from the diamond industry, where I’d completed 25 years working in client relationship management and international business consultancy. I was based mainly in London with lots of travel overseas, particularly India and Hong Kong, and I was looking for a fresh start and a new challenge. I was introduced to the coworking sector by my friend of 30+ years, Justin Harley, who produced GCUC UK last year. He offered me the opportunity to take over the event as he was taking up a new position at Yardi, so the timing was perfect.

I pretty much dived straight into coworking there and then. The diamond sector is very traditional, while coworking is still quite embryonic. I find coworking people very friendly and willing to discuss ideas and challenges, to work together to solve issues. There’s an amazing energy in this sector and it’s great to be a part of it.

Allwork.Space: Aside from the keynote, which presentations are you most looking forward to?

I’m really looking forward to the afternoon session moderated by Oliver Marlow from Studio Tilt, ‘Defining the New Way of Working’. They’re going to be exploring the changing needs of people who are using coworking spaces. The aim is to understand which ‘needs’ operators must focus on to keep their members happy, and which ‘needs’ are actually more like fads. For instance, wellbeing is incredibly important in the workplace, but some elements of wellbeing programmes are transient. I’m really looking forward to that session.

We’re also going to have a fascinating discussion with brokers, hosted by Chris Davies from Uncommon, talking about the future role of the broker. How will their role change? What is the impact of technology? How is their service offering evolving? Will fees go up or down?

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Speaking of brokers, we’ll have some interesting insights from Instant, who will share data on the growth of flexible space in secondary markets. One of the key things about GCUC is that we have a broad church of attendees. It’s not just about London. Our industry covers the entire country and I’m keen to represent the challenges and opportunities in the regions.

Another one I’m looking forward to is the session featuring Niki and Giles Fuchs. They’re going to talk about the highs and lows they’ve shared over the years. The Fuchs family built the UK’s first business centre and of course they’ve experienced a huge transition with many peaks and troughs. They’re here to tell the tale. That session will be moderated by the fantastic Mat Oakley from Savills – back by popular demand!

Allwork.Space: Hospitality is big on the agenda, and you have an interesting panel featuring Matthew Bell from hotel brand, citizenM. What do you think of the relationship between hotels and flexible space?

There are a lot of similarities between the two sectors. We also share a lot of challenges. For instance, hotels are working out how to create a better business proposition for their guests; they see a lot of people using their common spaces as hot desks and they’re keen to understand how to monetise it. Likewise, the coworking sector wants to find ways to attract hotel users into their spaces. It will be a very interesting panel.

Allwork.Space: What topic are you hoping to see on the board for the Unconference?

Good question! As a first time organiser I’m intrigued to see what’s going to be up on the board – hopefully nothing about WeWork!

The Unconference is an opportunity for delegates to drive the itinerary themselves. Learning from past events, this year we’re launching a brand new session called ‘Ask an Expert’. It’s a new addition to the GCUC format and it’s a chance for operators to get one-to-one advice on business rates, software, tech, brokers, management contracts, and content marketing. These sessions are free and attendees can book a session in advance from the website.

Allwork.Space: Which space are you looking forward to exploring on the London tour?

All of them! Particularly The Ministry at London Bridge. I’ve heard amazing things and it looks like a great space. Also I’m looking forward to seeing Uncommon at Liverpool Street. I’m new to the sector and there are so many places I have yet to visit. Especially as the market is growing so fast, it’s getting harder to keep up!

Allwork.Space: Anything else you want to add?

Yes – get your nominations in for the GCUC UK coworky awards. It’s new to GCUC UK this year and it’s a great opportunity to honour your favourite coworking space, or person, or supplier.

One last thing. At the heart of GCUC is coworking, community and fun… and a little provocation! We do what we do to help people learn and provide lots of usable takeaway knowledge, to help spaces and brands improve and grow. Come and see what we’re about – no matter how much time you’ve been in this business, or how little, I promise you there’s always something new to learn.

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