If you’re a solo entrepreneur or freelancer working remotely from home but looking for more company and stimulation on a daily basis, hooking up with a local coworking space might be a perfect fit. In fact, there’s currently a boom in the number of spaces popping up around the country. Here are a few that really stand out for their creativity and sense of place:
If you’re the type of person who enjoys keeping active during the workday, then Brooklyn Boulders' second location just outside Boston may be your dream come true. The 40,000-square-foot facility includes a 120-ft. long, 22-ft. high climbing wall on top of which sits an "active collaborative workspace." Even if climbing is not your thing, you'll find stand-up desks with built-in pull-up bars, balance balls, treadmill desks and plenty of open spaces designed to stimulate innovation and creativity. There’s even a weight room, sauna and yoga studio. “The whole premise of the facility is to blur the lines between work, life and play,” says Jesse Levin, co-founder and "senior cultural chameleon."
For a monthly memberships starting at $300, Link offers its members ergonomic furniture, outlets at every seat, snacks and coffee, and even a covered outdoor space. You can even pay extra to use Link’s mailing address for your correspondence or hire a “Linktern” to help you get your work done. “When I couldn’t find a clean, modern, professional and open coworking space I wanted to work in,” says founder/owner Liz Elam, “I decided to make one.”
If the more male-dominated tech-focused coworking spaces don’t work for you, you might consider Hera Hub, a female-centric workspace that founder Felena Hanson calls, “spa inspired.” The 4,000 to 5,000 square-foot spaces have an ambiance fueled by running water, the scent of candles, gentle lighting and plenty of art made by female artists. “We want people who are appreciative of our space and who want a collaborative way of doing business,” says Hanson, noting that prospective members have to apply and be approved before joining. There are three Hera Hub locations in the San Diego area. Hanson recently got approval to franchise her concept and hopes to open 200 new spaces nationwide in the next five years.
Grand Rapids is experiencing an ongoing revival where more and more people want to live and work downtown – which is exactly where The Factory, a collaborative 5,000-square-foot workspace, is located. From white boards and Skype rooms to community events like Beer:30, The Factory is a busy place some 700 members make use of every month. “We fit into this bigger trend where people want to choose who they want to work with,” says founder Aaron Schaap. “We wanted to create a sense of place and a community that would be like the show 'Cheers,' where everyone will know your name.”
PARISOMA was started by FABERNOVEL, a French innovation consulting company, to serve as a platform where startups and large companies could work side by side and grow with each other. The 8,000 square-foot lofted space also serves as a community hub for the community, hosting classes on topics ranging from Ruby on Rails and Photoshop, to immigration law. Part incubator, PARISOMA has served as a launching pad for several successful startups like QuickPay and VidCaster. “We want to support our members and help them leave us because they are doing so well,” Melanie Duve, startup services and events director.
Located downtown in the historic Guiry/Schillestad building, Makers Space is a 7,000-square-foot space filled with the amenities any entrepreneur or working professional would love: conference rooms, wireless Internet, printers, projectors, event space, telephone booths, a large kitchen, and a comfortable lounge area. Makers Space has proven so popular, its founders, Caitlin Agnew and Lana Morisoli, have a new 3,700 square-foot expansion underway that will add room for another 50 desks or so. “Our space is really warm and has great light,” says Morisoli, who is also an interior designer. “We're focused on how people function and how do they want to work.”
The city of Atlanta is emerging as a major hub for tech startups, and the Atlanta Tech Village (the Village as it's known) coworking space is doing its part to fuel the thriving ecosystem. Opened in 2013, the space continues to expand and will eventually hold up to 700 members, have more than 50 conference rooms and breakout spaces, 60-plus modular suites, a large events center that holds 300 people, as well as a video production lab complete with state-of-the-art cameras and editing equipment. When members aren’t working, they can play ping pong and shuffleboard, sample free organic snacks, and have their choice of tasty beverages. “The Village is now the largest entrepreneurship center in the Southeast and one of the 10 largest in the country,” says founder David Cummings. “Our goal is to create 10,000 new jobs over the next 10 years.”
While oil (or maybe the Cowboys) might be the first thing that comes to mind when you hear the word Dallas, it’s also becoming a hub of entrepreneurial talent. A great place to find many of the city's creative professionals is The Common Desk located in the Deep Ellum neighborhood. More than 100 companies call the 7,500 square-foot space home. And with a 4,500 square-foot expansion coming in 2014, which will include a tree house and a cave-like member lounge, The Common Desk's appeal will continue to surge. “We have to be functional from a design standpoint,” says owner Nick Clark. “But being different is important, as well. We’re always transforming the space so it continues to feel alive.”
Occupying 33,000 square feet at the top of a historic building just blocks from the White House, 1776 is a kind of high-tech space the founding fathers could never have dreamed of. Donna Harris and Evan Burfield created it as a hub specifically for startups operating in sectors that are heavily influenced by the government. Not only is the space itself stunning, there are the people you’ll meet there, who include: governors, mayors, heads of state, university presidents, and CEOs of major companies, all who frequent the space to attend events and provide mentorship opportunities. “The people drawn to 1776 are those looking to tackle the biggest challenges of today’s society, in a city that is uniquely positioned to help them do so,” says Harris.
Whether it’s the original 7,500-square-foot space on Park Avenue in Manhattan or its larger 14,000-square-foot partner on Broadway, Grind offers its members an escape from the bustling streets of New York City. With access to high-speed WiFi, and high caffeine coffee, “Grindists” as they call themselves, get access to a highly-productive space that includes all the features you’d expect from a cutting-edge co-working space, including comfortable furniture that is also recyclable and biodegradable. In fact, the Grind model is going viral, as they’ve just opened up a third location, this time in Chicago. “Like Free Radicals, Grind is intelligent,” says co-founder Ty Montague. “It learns, adapts, and evolves as people use it. It's a space that will keep getting better, a space that gets to know you, a space that feels like you own it.”
The coworking trend has even begun to impact large
“We wanted a place that would encourage entrepreneurial behaviors similar to what we see in any startup in the world,” she explains. The space is home to a 3-D printer and has hosted a series of Startup Weekend events where Coke employees collaborate on new product ideas, like a bicycle-powered cooler that made its way around the country during the college football season.