Coworking spaces which are a part of the Coworking movement are often characterised by five core values, namely collaboration, openness, sustainability, accessibility, and community. These values form the foundation of a thriving coworking community. They provide veteran entrepreneurs  and newcomers alike with a way to work, connect, and grow together. The pace of Innovation and addition of tech to business real estate is increasing, and so is the desire for human connection for users of shared and coworking spaces.

This is where soft services come into the picture. Hard services are those things we do to the building itself and its physical maintenance. Soft services are the human part of our work, like catering, receptionist services, events, workshops, and so on, and can be part of community development. This is why De Kamer has begun a pilot project to develop its services with an eye to tapping into the diverse skills and talents of community members. Through this pilot, De Kamer aims to create a coworking marketplace of services to foster a culture of collaboration and reciprocity. 

Legal and technical aspects

Uniquely in Europe, the Netherlands defines providing a business address along with “additional services” can lead to classification as a Trust Office. This type of classification requires a licence. Because the laws and regulations are rather unclear, sometimes companies in coworking and shared office are hesitant to offer any services at all for fear of inviting this kind of regulatory attention.

However the definition is not so unclear, it says : Providing an address or postal address and performing ‘additional activities’ such as record-keeping or preparing and filing tax returns (domicile plus) means you are offering trust services.

If no additional activities are performed, or the additional activities consist only of ‘receptionist work’ – putting through telephone calls and forwarding unopened mail and parcels – this service qualifies as ‘domicile only’. This then, not a trust service. 

Additional activities include:

  • Advising or assisting object companies, with the exception of receptionist work only
  • Preparing and filing tax returns.
  • Compiling, reviewing or auditing financial statements
  • Performing any activities related to the compilation, reviewing or auditing of financial statements
  • Record-keeping
  • Recruiting directors

It is a good thing to have extra regulatory attention to professionals who are providing such services or who are in other ways assisting with the actual decision making and running of a company. 

In De Kamer we have the “next-door neighbor rule” for whether a service is offered or not.  That is, if you could ask your next door neighbor to do a thing while you were out of town, it is not the kind of service which should lead to additional regulatory controls.

It is crucial to recognise the importance to entrepreneurs in a global marketplace of having local relationships to deal with the local business climate. Especially when operating across borders. 

In essence, coworking spaces can serve as facilitators of collaboration and business growth. They act as matchmakers to connect individuals with complementary skills and services – and if they can do this within the community, the whole community flourishes as a result. For instance, when a coworker expresses a need for a website, the Community Manager plays a role in introducing other members who can do that. This matchmaking function enhances the value proposition of coworking spaces. Furthermore, it fosters a culture of mutual support among members. Soft services act as a means for collaboration. They encourage space to empower coworkers to share their talents and resources in the coworking space.

A heart of service

At the end of the day coworking spaces exist to rekindle a sense of community. They spark collaboration and make the workspace more accessible. When creating soft services for your space remember these words from De Kamer’s founder, Jeannine van der Linden

“Coworking was born out of hospitality. It was born out of a heart of service; community coworking tends to have a heart for service. One of the things that coworking spaces should do more often is support entrepreneurs in the things that they are doing.”

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