Not so long ago, Igor Dzhebyan, our CEO and co-founder as well as vice president of the Ukrainian Coworking Association, was invited for a friendly talk at the Coworking Values podcast.
For almost half an hour, Igor and Jose Antonio Morales were discussing the questions that stir the minds of everyone related to shared workspace culture. Therefore, apart from the unknown details of Igor’s personal life, from this episode, you will get to know what is a coworking space in a wide philosophical sense. How can the adoption of the shared workspace behavior model help in resolving crisis situations such as the war in Ukraine? What are the most unexpected consequences of the war in terms of coworking? How does the global coworking community support Ukraine and what are the country’s needs and hopes for the future?
The hot questions highlighted above are just the tip of the iceberg to give you a hint that the podcast is definitely worth a listen. A lot of mind-changing ideas are waiting underwater to be discovered by you. Feel free to plug your earbuds in and listen to the audio right here or on the London Coworking Assembly page, where it was originally published.
This is Igor from andcards and Ukrainian Coworking Association. I've been living about half of my life outside Ukraine, although I'm originally Ukrainian. For the last several years I've been moving between different countries as a digital nomad.
Jose: Igor, there's something that you mentioned that captured my attention when you were going through this process of exploration and traveling. You were looking for yourself. What did you find?
Igor: I think I was looking for some values that are important for me in my life. What defines me as a person, what is important for me, what is important for society, and the causes I believe in. So I think throughout this journey, I found my values, something that I laid as a foundation of my company… Transparency, responsibility, honesty, and tolerance, this kind of values that are not typically a part of a business model but that are important to us as human beings and societies.
Jose: I would love to know, how did you end up in the world of coworking?
Igor: I distinctly remember the first time I ended up at a coworking space back in 2016. I realized that it is something very close to me in terms of the system of values, not only daily tasks to be done. The idea of community collaboration is so great to build on, and create value out of it. It resonated with me on multiple physical and emotional dimensions and I loved it…
Jose: I'm curious to know, what's your definition of coworking?
Igor: I think that first and foremost, coworking is the system of values. A lot of people tend to define it as something related to physical space or something about collaboration within communities. But I believe this is more like a philosophy. As one of the coworking space founders that I met in Poland said, it's a state of mind rather than a business.
I believe that coworking is actually a potential answer to a lot of issues we have in the world if we treat it as a more general kind of philosophy. Because, you know, in such a polarized society, people always tend to draw a line, this is mine and this is yours. Or the worst happens when I decide that yours is mine and vice versa. And the concept of coworking is actually when you say, this is ours. Like cooperating over something. So I think coworking is actually an answer to a lot of problems we have in the world when it comes to this polarization and divisiveness such as the war in Ukraine or the Israel-Palestinian conflict…
Jose: What is your experience with the Ukrainian coworking association and what is going on in Ukraine with the war in terms of coworking?
Igor: The time is so fast. It feels like we lived through two years in the last two months. We basically hacked into the global coworking movement, and we hacked into the Ukrainian Coworking Association because it has become such a unifying factor for all of us there. It has been so much faster even from the point of view of technology adoption. Before the war, I would say only three out of ten spaces had a strong online infrastructure or payment infrastructure. But once this happened and the spaces realized the need to accept donations or give members the ability to book online ten out of ten signed up.
I think everyone in Ukraine and Ukrainian Coworking Association realized that the values of coworking are the same everywhere—in Ukraine, in Europe, in Peru, and all over the world.
Jose: What can the global coworking community do to support the Ukrainian people and the Ukrainian reconstruction?
Igor: Of course, first is taking a stance, defining the values. A lot of businesses are motivated by money. So for them, it is harder to take a stance because they have thousands of shareholders behind their backs. They have to always turn around and be guided by what they think. And not everyone has the same values. So that's been one of the advantages that we have here at andcards. We've always built the company around sustainability, kind of being self-reliant. So we can afford ourselves the luxury of standing out with the values that we think are important to our families, coworkers, and customers.
I absolutely agree that reconstruction and recovery are basically the light at the end of the tunnel. If coworking is all about co-owning, collaboration, and doing together, I think what’s next for Ukraine is all about reconstruction, rebuilding, and renaissance.
Igor: We've all heard about this case where people on Airbnb have been booking apartments in Ukraine in the affected cities to support the house owners. Pretty much we could demonstrate that the sharing economy has its bright side as well. Booking a desk in some of the affected coworking spaces in Ukraine, just spending 25 bucks on supporting them may to some feel like a drop in an ocean. But what is an option if not millions of dobs?
I really hope you enjoyed your listen and got a refreshed view on many things. Now please help us spread the word about this podcast, and give it a shout-out on socials to attract more ears to the content.