An interview with Nacho Rodriguez, founder of CoworkingC, The Roof, and Nomad City

I’ve met young people who don’t even know what it’s like to work for someone else.

To them, remote work is the norm. It’s all they know.

There are developers, designers, and creatives in my coworking space who are Millennials and Generation Z. They’ve never kept a standard schedule in an office.

There’s also people from older generations who are just starting to work remotely. After spending their entire careers working from an office, remote work is an adjustment.

It’s challenging to get used to a more flexible schedule and overcome the feeling of loneliness.

But there are some solutions. Traveling slowly for one, and working from coworking spaces as part of a productive and inspiring community.

And while there are challenges, the freedom that comes from working remotely is worth it.

the roof

How did you get into coworking?

Three years ago, I was working for a family business that relocated to an office in Gran Canaria.

We didn’t know at the time that coworking was a ‘thing’. But people started knocking on our door and asking if they could share our office space.

We started focusing on attracting more people to our coworking space from all over the world. 

Today, I run coworking and coliving spaces in Gran Canaria called CoworkingC and TheRoof, and an annual conference for nomads called Nomad City. I’m a multitasker!

How is remote work changing?

I see more and more people coworking – not only recent graduates and young entrepreneurs, but people from the corporate space. Traditional companies are learning to become more flexible, thanks to the tools we have today.

Nomad City is an annual event we launched to promote the Canary Islands as a great place to work. It’s a big tourist destination in Europe, with over 12 million tourists yearly.

But it’s much more than that. Gran Canaria is a great place to live like a local and grow your business.

Last year, we brought hundreds of people together to attend Nomad City. Our content focused on solopreneurs and digital nomads.

In our surveys, we found that there’s a large subgroup of remote workers that actually aren’t traveling intensively. They’re usually based in a city or like to travel more slowly.

They’re more integrated in the local community. It can be stressful to move around so quickly, so they have a home base. They may freelance or work remotely for a more traditional company. Some of them even run their own company remotely.  

This year, we’re creating content at Nomad City that’s focused on this subgroup – on remotely distributed teams, company culture, and location independent workers.  

coworking

How can remotely distributed companies create a sense of belonging?

I don’t think you need to be part of a company, and go to an office every day, to feel like you belong.

You can be part of a company and feel alone.

Read: What Does it Mean to Belong in Today’s World?

It depends more on the culture. How you interact, how the leaders manage the teams, how people relate to the values of the company. That’s much more important than sharing an amazing space.

No matter where you work, if you don’t believe in the company values and what you’re working on, you’re going to feel unmotivated.   

There are teams that put effort into building relationships through tools, in-person offsites, team-building projects, and more.

If people have an impact and their voice is heard, they’ll feel like they belong.

What’s something that surprised you?

Remote workers come from all types of industries. You might think of freelance developers, designers, marketers, and online business owners.

But last year, I met three guys from an American pharmaceutical company at Nomad City who are fully remote. I was quite surprised, because the pharmaceutical industry is more traditional, outside of the tech industry.

This space is changing quickly. And a lot of traditional companies are adopting this movement, especially in the US.

Any other success stories?

My friend is a senior developer at Trello. Only four years ago, he was first remote worker from Trello.

He currently works from Hawaii.

Today, over 65% of Trello employees work remotely. In such a short amount of time, the company opened up remote work to its employees.

I see this trend everywhere.

I see new projects changing the way the corporate world works. There are corporations now that allow workers to work from coworking spaces part of the week, not only their headquarters.

People are starting to open up their homes and invite others to cowork with them. Hoffice is a new startup that helps you find home offices nearby.

In the future of work, this you’ll see these changes accelerate. People are redefining what work can mean to them – and corporations that don’t become more flexible will fall behind.

What does success mean to you?

Success means feeling right about what you’re doing in life. For me, it’s making an impact on my community and making it sustainable.

It’s the freedom to pursue my passions and the impact I want to create in the world.

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