I don't want this to be a business advertisement or anything, but I realize I'm treading a fine line. I've been having a hard time finding good sources to talk to for information on these kinds of things though, so I figured I'd take to the interwebs and talk to you guys about it. If this is too much of a "don't bring work to the party" kind of thing, feel free to let the thread die.
I'm involved in a real estate company, and we've been toying with the idea of turning one of or properties in downtown into a coworking space. If you guys aren't aware of what that is, they're a new-ish office concept that's taking off on the coasts (LA, San Fran, NY, Boston, Philly, etc) and has been spreading through bigger cities all over the country. The general idea is this: if you don't want the overhead of owning your own office, but are tired of working out of your house or a coffee shop, you can join a shared workspace. You can have a dedicated office or single desk that you rent by the month, or just get a membership that allows you to come a couple days a week and set up shop. They provide conference centers to hold meetings in if you have clients come, give you a physical mailing address in an actual office, and other amenities you'd normally have to give up when working solo.
So my problem is this: none of us have ever actually experienced one of these. It's one thing to read about them and see youtube marketing campaigns for them and all that, but it's hard to know what to actually expect on a day-to-day basis. I know we have quite a few posters who either live in or have lived in other cities - has anyone ever been a part of one of these? How was your experience?
That would be part one. Part two, for everybody else: could Toledo make use of something like this? There seem to be varying levels of popularity with them based on your form of employment. Anyone working from the home, free lance artists/journalists/etc, small startups, marketing companies, etc, are good candidates. But the one consistent thread has seemed to be software/computer tech companies, which to my knowledge, Toledo doesn't have much of, so it makes me wonder if there'd be enough interest to really get it to support itself.
This is what Regus does. They have such an office at Arrowhead Park.
Check with UT, they kinda have something like that near their Comp Sci department. Forget the name of the building but it's basically a think tan/place for entrepreneurs to rent space on par with what you're doing.
I used to have this arrangement for office space in Arrowhead Park also. Do not remember if it was Regus, but I thought it worked real well for me.
Sounds like a pretty good idea- especially if located Downtown. Ideal for start up companies who cannot afford huge rent, new layers, etc... Depending on location- I may even be interested in a rentable space like this eventually....
About 12 years ago, I used a set-up like that for an office I ran in Livonia, MI.
Sounds very similar to what you're saying - I had a smallish work station, but then we had the opportunity to use many of the amenities of a larger office (conference room when we needed client meetings, etc).
It was a great concept. Sometimes working out of a home office just won't do for client purposes, but you don't need to rent a large office space for yourself.
INC mentioned something at UT, but I don't think its quite the same thing. If I recall correctly, the space at UT is more of a business incubator for technology oriented firms, and they have larger space for R&D type stuff, etc. As opposed to what you're proposing could be used by someone in nearly any industry that just needed some physical office space for more desk oriented type work.
P.S. Don't worry, I don't think anyone would interpret this as a spam-ish post on your part. You're looking to see if there is an unmet need in the Toledo area (which is on topic), and you also contribute here regularly on a variety of topics.
IMO, a regular user asking a relevent question (even if it could ultimately be used as a business idea)is different than someone who only drops in occasionally for free advertising. :)
That is essentially what most sole-practitioner lawyers already do.
Fantastic idea for downtown. Where would it be located?
I never actually knew what Regus did. And after looking them up, I never realized they're actually a big time company. I don't know why they aren't listed in any databases out there on coworking, flexible / shared workspaces, etc.
I knew UT had their thing going, but like mom2 said, it's more of an incubator than office space provider.
The downtown aspect of it is the most appealing part to me. I'd like to be able to do anything to steer more business down there, and hopefully help develop more of that walkable urban community kind of thing. We have a few different candidate properties we're considering, but I'm pushing for one in the warehouse district. A lot of these (blankspaces in LA for example) have a trendy/artsy kind of feel, and I think the warehouse district would be the best place to nurture that kind of thing.
Johio83.....send me an email - heysteve8587 @ gmail.com. I know about 3-4 people who are currently working on putting this together downtown so it sounds like there is common interest. I'll give you their contact info. Maybe you all can work together.
This is not specific to Toledo, but here's some info about coworking from a June 2010 thread.
Interesting coworking space located in Ann Arbor called the Workantile Exchange.
...could Toledo make use of something like this?
Maybe. It depends on the amenities. Two things about downtown to consider are security and parking. If you have free, secure parking so your car doesn't get trashed and good building security, that's a great start.
The people involved make a huge difference. I was approached with something like this many years ago and turned the whole thing down with a request that the organizers lose my phone number permanently. Screen the renters and it would likely work out well.
Great idea, but to work in Toledo it'll need to be inexpensive. Compared to NY, LA and even A2, space is often the cheapest part of doing business in Northwest Ohio.
My company has had space at the UT incubator and I've looked at Regus.
I would not characterize those spaces as anything more that office space with little to no interaction with the other renters.
I think one primary selling point of this kind of space is an area where professionals can work in a open comfortable environment.
The examples of this that I've seen were built for work at home type people, who worked for different companies, where they are able to have a place to work and socialize. They also shared what they're doing and bounced ideas off each other.
I've been on and off work at home for 15 years and it can get very isolating at times. I'd be interested in this space if it's what I've described.
I think bobo's right about the open office environment. I have heard of similar places that share the expense and services of a receptionist, someone who can answer multiple phone lines (if for some reason a tenant wants a client to reach a friendly human voice instead of voicemail). With the right person up front, it can really foster a community feeling rather than being just a bunch of anonymous business spaces.
I think your idea has come at the right time -- more than once, I've had to move away from a table in a coffee shop because people were engaged in very earnest (and shoulda been) confidential discussions. Those are the kind of folks who used to have offices to go to! :-)
I imagine a space with about a dozen people tapping on their laptops, having coffee, talking about work and kids and every so often some says, "Hey, quite! I need to take this call."
i wish my spelling was better
Yeah, that's exactly the kind of space we have in mind. One that blends the coffee shop layout into the work place. I guess I'd call it grown up study hall. A big open area for people to get their work done, while still being able to interact with other people. Then another section with more secluded office-style spaces, for those that want a little more privacy.
I guess I should point out that at this stage in the game, we're really just at a fact-finding level, trying to get as much info on it as we can to determine if this is a path we should attempt to go down. My "win the lottery" plan is taking longer than I'd expected though, so... (kidding, kidding!)
Youll need some solid ground rules to keep harmony - things like security against theft and no kids will def be a point of interest. What about competitors or business theft taking place in the office space...?
- About - Web designers, developers, strategists, branders.
- Contact - Toledo, Ohio
- Excerpts from a January 9, 2012 Spoke blog post
At long last, Spoke is pleased to announce the creation of Toledo’s first space — Seed.
What is coworking? We’re glad you asked. Coworking is a style of work which involves a shared work environment. Most importantly, coworking creates a community that helps designers, developers, independent contractors and creative professionals flourish.
Seed Cowork will be located in historic St. Clair Village in Downtown Toledo. Our doors will open in the Spring. We’ll announce a Kickstarter campaign which will allow like-minded folks to support our project.
We’ve also provided answers to common questions to help you learn more about the project:
Read blog post for FAQ. Here are a couple questions and answers:
Q: Is this just renting office space?
A: Seed is just a place where creative people work. It is not about the space. It is about the community. Yes, you have a membership, but the value comes from the members within the space. Renting office space is just about the space.
Q: Who is behind this?
A: The founding members are three independent business owners from NW Ohio: Gene Powell, Jamie Wright and Don Miller. All supporting members will have a vote and voice for where Seed goes in the future.
Spoke Twitter feed.
Jan 17, 2012 tweet
Join the #Toledo StartUp community :: Thursday, January 26 at 6:30PM :: Manhattan's in Uptown
I think it's a great idea if you can price point it right. I've kicked around a similar idea after reading an article in INC or Fast Company. I toured Regus but was less than thrilled with their location in Arrowhead. The business' located at that site also are not the type I think you are targeting and the site doesn't foster much interaction that would lead to innovation.
Haha Molson, good one! I can't wait for that phrase to go away. What's wrong with just using "price" anyway, here and in all other uses? Sorry, it's my pet peeve. A real Peeve Point, that is.