A relatively new and rapidly growing workplace concept is coworking, a membership-based workspace or office comprised of individuals or companies operating independently—often in completely different industries. The pendulum swung from formal corporate cubicles with requisite business attire to home offices cuddled in pajamas, and then swayed to the middle—the result is coworking. South Minneapolis offers a range of coworking options. Each generous space varies from cozy house settings and urban-style lofts to elegant corporate sites. All offer comparable basic features, including common working and lounge areas, private office space and phone booths, conference rooms, mother/wellness rooms, front desk reception, full kitchens, WiFi and, of course, hot coffee and fully-stocked bars. Depending on the location, outdoor space is provided and dogs may be welcome, too. The list of amenities and business services vary by company and membership level. Educational and promotional events, social hours and fitness classes are offered weekly, contributing to the cohesive community. Members are encouraged to host presentations to share information regarding their experiences, industries and trades.
Fueled Collective is found in the unlikely location under a CVS pharmacy on West Lake Street. The unassuming storefront contrasts with the expansive sunlit loft-styled space. Fueled Collective has locations in Chicago, Cincinnati and New York, and is expanding in the Twin Cities. “This business is moving more toward lots of private, lockable suites, which we have as well, but still something about the open commons where people bump into each other and, like, reconnect and share ideas is, I still feel, the heart of why this is cool,” chief social officer of Fueled Collective Don Ball says. Fueled Collective can customize its memberships or the space to fit member needs. For example, Ball describes “The Garage” as a brainstorming room, often renting the 2,500-square-foot space to local corporations. “We can rearrange all the furniture. We have all these white boards and pin boards. We’re able to set it up for people to be like this great little think tank, basically.”
Flock is a curated historic home in the Whittier neighborhood, near internationally delicious Eat Street. The 6,000-square-foot space is divided into intimate and unique rooms. Casual and comfortable, a series of nooks and crannies afford privacy, and open, spacious areas invite group interaction. “There are so many options within this coworking space,” Flock community manager Laura Sowers says. “We have our main three membership levels, but I get people all the time that need different things and we are able to be flexible to find something that works for them and their situation.” Flock capitalized on a quiet basement space by creating a podcast studio.
Flock member Angie Durham of AD Greenroof has found her workspace priorities met at a coworking space. “Flexibility. To be able to come in and out as I need to. Get out of my home office and communicate with other independent professionals,” she says, describing her priorities. Durham also enjoys the networking opportunities coworking offers. “After completing work productivity, I can then go to the kitchen and chat with someone,” she says.
WeWork is expanding fast, far and wide. “Our members are based in one location, but they have access to more than 250 locations around the world,” Megan Dodds, general manager says. “If you have a membership at one location, you have access to any of the other locations, and that’s a huge kind of perk in terms of [a] coworking type of model,” she explains. WeWork offers a high-rise location in downtown Minneapolis in the Capella Tower. Three floors of private offices and common areas with breathtaking views will impress any job candidate or customer. A new location is coming to Lagoon in South Minneapolis, but if you travel to Barcelona, Hong Kong or Jakarta—to name only a few major cities—you will have convenient access to familiar coworking space. “The goal was to really build more than beautiful shared office space but really to build community,” Dodds says. Matt Catanzarite, team manager of Real Life Sciences, appreciates the technological, administrative and social support provided at WeWork locations. Catanzarite describes WeWork as a partner devoted to helping grow his business, not a landlord collecting rent.
The Future of Work
The demand for coworking continues to grow because the workforce continues to change. The ubiquity of electronic devices affords us the freedom to work from literally anywhere. People expect more control of their work life and environment, Ball explains. “You didn’t get to choose your coworkers because they were thrusted upon you,” he says. “Now, I feel like we’re used to choosing everything, so part of it is like, okay, I choose coworkers that I actually want to have.” The value of sharing experiences is recognized and appreciated. Sarah Kemp, assistant account executive of Schuler Publicity, is a member at Fueled Collective and she believes in the importance of industry diversity—cultivating relationships with people doing both similar and different things.
The workforce within coworking spaces has evolved. Initially, coworking was considered a work style for self-employed, technically savvy millennials and startup companies, but there is no type of member. “More than 25 percent of our WeWork members are from enterprise companies, and the way we quantify that is a company with more than 1,000 employees,” Dodds says. At Fueled Collective, Ball gestures to a table of women and men, and says, “As far as the variety of people that show up in these spaces, it’s kind of crazy.” Ball describes the individuals representing a public relations firm—a salesperson, a language translator and a group building apps for startups. Although the fields are completely unrelated, they influence and inspire each other. A series of partitioned offices represent a marketing firm, a burger restaurant chain and a group of individuals advancing robotics. Without a company supervisor monitoring time cards, Sowers says, “There is no one type of person or industry, but they are motivated, driven and self-starters.” Fueled Collective member Grady Hannah was familiar with the concept after years in San Francisco, the birthplace of coworking. “I like being at the office,” he says. “Working at home can make you feel isolated. There’s community here.”
Coworking allows members to choose or create a compatible and comfortable work culture to increase productivity. “Basically, what all this runs on is caffeine and WiFi,” Ball says, laughing.