Saturday 08 August 2020

Amsterdam city proposes sharing meeting rooms

Share and share alike: the city of Amsterdam is starting a limited trial of sharing its office space next week.

Nanette Schippers, programme manager of the ‘sharing economy’ drive told journalists on Thursday that Europe’s first self-proclaimed ‘sharing city’ will be loaning unused office space to charities in need of a meeting room.

‘We also say practice what you preach, and if you are a sharing city, you have to share yourself as well,’ she said on Thursday. ‘We are now in a pre-trial phase: we want to share our meeting rooms. On Friday afternoon, weekends and other times it’s not that busy, and they just standing there doing nothing. And we know that a lot of people are looking for meeting rooms.

‘So we want to open up these spaces for foundations that want to have a social impact in Amsterdam.

From next Monday the trial begins with one organisation taking a regular meeting spot at the city’s offices in central Amsterdam.

Competition?

Schippers admitted that the idea has been hard to put into action, and that she has had proactive meetings with other office rental firms. ‘Because we are a government, we have to cover security issues and can’t have our economic activities competing with professional meeting room businesses,’ she said.

‘For us it’s also a trial to see when they leave, if we have to clean up, what the questions are during the day, can we just open up for them and leave again – it’s a very practical learning curve. If it works, we will expand it and more meeting rooms will be opened up and we will probably find a nice sharing platform [website].’

Amsterdam launched an initiative to encourage start-up companies, larger businesses, social organisations and individuals to share resources, knowledge and services – freely, and for cash – after research by Pieter van de Glind suggesting that 84% of Amsterdammers are willing to share.

Last year, it ran a meeting for international deputy mayors on the subject and other aims include offering dedicated space in an underground car park for people willing to share their cars and linking up the Stadspas city pass with sharing initiatives as a general service for all – discounted for the elderly or those on low incomes.

Cooperate

Harmen van Sprang, who co-founded the shareNL networking organisation with Van de Glind, told DutchNews.nl: ‘[The office sharing pilot] is quite an interesting attempt by the City of Amsterdam to unlock idle capacity.’

He said it wouldn’t provide unfair competition for commercial shared office spaces, but that co-working spaces such as Seats2Meet might well be willing to cooperate with the city using their technology.

‘[The city] is willing to learn from this and to adjust where needed to maintain a level playing field,’ he added. ‘The Amsterdam approach is to collaborate between public and private parties and as long as every stakeholder is prepared to participate in and learn…we will all benefit.’

A spokesman for Regus office space provider was contacted for comment.

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