Co-working space is often attractive to members of the knowledge economy, and offering access to these types of facilities can help regions grow this sector.
I work from home and have often considered whether a co-working situation would make me more or less productive. I’m not quite sure I want to give up my “commute,” and I do like my current early morning work routine, but I took notice when this article was bouncing around social media last month.
The article talks about the invaluable connections that can be made at co-working spaces and how successful co-working operations not only provide space but also promote a sense of community. The article cites a 2006–07 survey conducted by Laura Folano, an assistant professor at the Illinois Institute of Technology, who asked participants (independent workers, consultants, and entrepreneurs) why they chose to work in public places such as cafés, parks, and libraries. Some of the reasons the participants cited include:
- Network of people to talk to
- Found ambient noise to be helpful
- Need to escape distractions at home
Operators of co-working spaces have found that reasons that workers cited in that study are some of the same reasons that draw people to co-working locations. The discussion surrounding this article reminded me of a webinar I took a few months ago that was hosted by the Northeastern Economic Developers Association (NEDA) that highlighted some successful co-working locations in Connecticut. The co-working locations that were highlighted include:
- The Grove in New Haven, CT – The Grove features access to a variety of spaces ranging from The Study, which accommodates two people and is good for phone calls or private meetings, to The Clubhouse, which can fit 45 people and has a ping-pong table, interactive whiteboard, refrigerator, and flat screen monitors. The facility boasts bike racks, local coffee, a mailing address, storage space, reduced rates for downtown parking, fast WiFi, and other benefits. It also offers regular meet-ups, lunch-and-learns, and other types of social events.
- AXIS901 in Manchester, CT – AXIS901 offers a variety of workspaces including private offices, a main co-working room with desks and tables, larger meeting rooms, and a break room. AXIS901 offers regular networking events and unique value-added services such as office hours with a “business pioneer, entrepreneur, and inventor” who can help co-working members advance their companies.
During the webinar the representatives of the co-working spaces offered some basic advice about how to create a successful space:
- Good coffee: what else do small businesses run on?
- Phone booth: no one wants to sit next to the guy shouting into his cell phone
- Comfy chairs: for a change of scenery from the desks
- Nice décor and furniture: to make it inviting and a nice place to spend your days
- Automated management: to reduce costs and make it easy for users
Co-working space is often attractive to members of the knowledge economy, and offering access to these types of facilities can help regions grow this sector. There are many ways for economic developers to get involved in co-working locations including helping to find and finance the space, managing and/or operating the space, and helping to create social and educational events.