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Why coworking is a hit for telecommuters and entrepreneurs

Jen A. Miller | July 2, 2014
Telework and mobility are driving the popularity of coworking spaces, with close to 800 locations in the United States alone. Entrepreneurs, telecommuters and freelancers use the spaces the most, with local political consultants and 'creatives' occasionally joining them.

Cowerks started with 700 square feet and no private offices. Today it occupies 1,600 square feet, with an open floor plan for desks, four private offices and a conference room. Wi-Fi and printing services are included.

Clients run the gamut and include writers, designers, developers and attorneys. Many are solo entrepreneurs, but Cowerks' clientele also includes telecommuting employees. Some work remotely from corporate headquarters; some drop in a few days a week; some live at Jersey Shore for the summer. Cowerks had four day traders last year at its beach town location; this year, it'll have six.

Price points appeal to both solo entrepreneurs and telecommuters who want a community office space. Typical rents in the region range from $800 to $900 per month and require long-term leases, but monthly memberships at Cowerks cost $250 and are signed on a month-to-month basis. Drop-in rates cost $20 per day, $85 for a five-pack and $150 for a 10-pack. The conference room is available for $25 per hour.

Nebula was the first coworking space to open in St. Louis (in 2010). "We had a lot of people who were just looking for work space," Nebula owner Jason Deem says. "A commercial storefront was generally too big for them, and people were reaching out asking for just an office or a desk. We thought there might be a demand."

Nebula started with a handful of members and now has more than 100. Its space has expanded to 15,000 square feet and includes eight Wi-Fi hot spots as well as more than 50 Ethernet ports. Nebula started with a lot of "creatives," says Deem, though clientele has grown in two directions: Technology and political consultants, plus messaging firms.

"I think we're getting some political people because they want to be connected to the small business and tech community," he says. "They want to be in touch with what's going on, and the coworking space provides that."

Nebula prices run from $50 to $175 per month, depending on what services a person or company wants. More expensive memberships include things such as 24/7 building access, kitchenette use and lockable storage.

The traditionally employed still make up a small percentage of members of co-working spaces just 9 percent, according to the NAIOP report, compared to 53 percent freelancers and 14 percent entrepreneurs. But NAIOP predicts that the co-working movement is just getting started and will take traditionally and non-traditionally employed in a new kind of workplace direction.


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