Co-Working Spaces Fill a Variety of Needs For Home-Based Professionals
By Edie Fossey
You’re working at home on a hard deadline, and the network goes out for the fifth time. At the local café with your team, there’s not a chair to be found. An important conference call is interrupted by jackhammers in front of the house. Working from home has its drawbacks. These are the type of issues co-working spaces solve.
Co-working spaces provide small businesses, independent professionals, remote workers and teams the office spaces and amenities they need for work. Located near commercial and financial centers, major corporations and universities, co-working spaces have taken off in the Boston area in recent years. Their locations make them ideal for freelancers and independent entrepreneurs to collaborate with members of an organization when they don’t work with the same space. And being located near public transportation or highways in most cases gives members easy access.
The workspaces earn revenue through memberships, similar to a gym – not all members are there all the time. Memberships may be determined by length (monthly, weekly or daily), frequency (full time, partial weeks, work hours only or 24/7 access) and the desired amenities (private office, shared desk area or multi-person office). Some have multiple locations, a few are very large and offer services around the world and others are regional.
Most workspaces hold events to attract new members and foster community among them. And they offer their event spaces for member use as well. One such entity offers the shared workspace for free, relying on its event space bookings for revenue. Organizations can also join and offer their members the amenities. One such is the Institute of Career Transitions, which works out of the Workbar in Danvers. Each of its 12-week sessions meets there, and members can use the facilities for the duration of the program. There are also industry-focused workspaces in the advertising and marketing industry, kitchen facilities for food innovation, labs for software startups and energy and clean-tech startup spaces.
Configured to suit a variety of work styles, these workspaces are outfitted with a variety of amenities such as conference rooms, offices supplies, printers, large computer screens for sharing, electronic work platforms with project management software, CRM and databases and cafes.
Carol Costello, who was the space and community manager at Workbar Arlington when it opened in 2016, says the facility offers a flexible, inspiring, professional yet casual work community as well as a congenial, positive vibe with regular social events. “The magic in co-working is people you wouldn’t otherwise meet can collaborate and feed off each other’s energy and ideas,” she said.
In trying out a Workbar for myself, I found there is a sense of belonging to an entity as if being part of a business, and the people there were very friendly and helpful. I was invited to join a group for lunch even though I was only visiting.
Here is a sampling of workspaces in and around the Boston area:
Workbar has locations in Boston near South Station, and in Arlington, Cambridge, Somerville, and inside Staples stores in Brighton, Norwood and Danvers. Cost is $350 for a month of full time open space, $400 for a dedicated desk, and other offerings. A calendar of events brings members and nonmembers alike to startup pitches, lunch-and-learns, expert panels and networking events.
WeWork has over 226 locations in 53 cities. Prices range from $350-$400 per month determined by location and amenities needed, and each space is unique. In addition to brainstorming rooms, phone booths and terraces, they offer credit card processing and health plans at lower rates. Boston-area locations include Fort Point, South Station, St. James Avenue, Portland Street and Mass. Ave. in Cambridge.
Alley sponsored by Verizon, recently opened an office in Cambridge at 10 Ware St. near Harvard Square, with other locations across the country. It’s said to have emerging technologies powered by Verizon. Alley offers a nursery for new and expectant mothers. Other amenities are similar and priced accordingly.
Hall at 44 Gloucester St. in the Back Bay offers shared space for $70 per week and has a “feel at home” space with Sunday through Thursday evening meals. Deep comfy chairs or standing counters, Wi-Fi and an app to add guests are some of the offerings of Hall. Balanced dinners are included in the cost. Three different areas set up to work, socialize or meet.
Social Innovation Forum formerly Next Mile Project, at One Congress Street near the North End, ranges from $250-$350 per month. It is a co-working community for nonprofits providing social impact. It can be considered an accelerator for nonprofits.
Artisan’s Asylum located at 10 Tyler St. in Somerville costs $150 per month for unlimited access, and $1.75 per square foot weekly in the makerspace with fully equipped machine shop and flex space. It’s a co-working space dedicated to teaching, learning and practice of fabrication.
LearnLaunch Campus at 281 Summer St., South Boston, charges $400 per month for a private desk, with shared pricing unlisted. Boston’s only Edtech co-working space aspires for entrepreneurs to collaborate and transform education through peer events, visits from strategic industry experts and educators.
Cove in Kendall Square’s Barismo Coffee building (295 Third St.), is a co-working space with the perks of a high-end coffee shop. An app connects members and tracks real-time availability. It has call boxes for soundproof video or phone calls, Wi-Fi, printing and scanning and low-cost meeting rooms. It offers night and weekend packages as well as all access high-amenity and low-amenity offerings ranging from $89-$249 per month.
Geek Offices, 1035 Cambridge St., east of Inman Square, offers daily ($35) or monthly ($75-$250) rentals with 24/7 access, conference rooms, free Wi-Fi and a resident geek to help with day-to-day issues. Members can receive correspondence and packages by mail and overnight delivery.
Liquidspace offers spaces to rent or lease consolidated from multiple sources, does connect to workspaces, but also leases offices throughout Massachusetts.
Edie Fossey, a marketing graphics traffic manager, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.