Compiled by Austin Anthony
Trendy lighting and large comfy seating areas. Calming architecture. A coffee bar. Cool artwork. No, this is not a modern home.
This is a place of employment (or a place of work getting done, at least).
A growing number of traditional office buildings in Chattanooga are being transformed into stylish, collaborative workplaces called coworking spaces. They're joining the global trend of catering to individuals and companies that want relaxed work environments in a shared space.
The popularity of the coworking space concept has risen steadily over the past decade, and by 2020, it's estimated that more than 26,000 spaces will be in use globally, according to Small Business Labs, which tracks trends in small businesses.
In the past few years, coworking spaces have blossomed in Chattanooga, offering a host of advantages for startup businesses.
Like always, we've saved you the trouble of perusing the web by giving you inside information regarding coworking spaces, courtesy of Waterhouse Public Relations and Southside Creative.
What is unique about the E|SPACES concept?
E|SPACES offers a traditional office environment in a modern, high-tech space without the overhead of owning or leasing an entire building. Our flexible range of office spaces from collaborative workspaces to dedicated offices to meeting space creates a community of professionals that network with each other. You have mobile tech entrepreneurs alongside project teams from large corporations, which leads to using each other’s services and collaboration. At E|SPACES you also have access to all of our locations, which allows you to do business or hold meetings in other cities with ease.
How would you describe E|SPACES to someone who isn't familiar with coworking spaces?
E|SPACES is a place for the modern professional, for corporations to expand capabilities, for entrepreneurs who are just starting out and for small businesses who are ready to grow. We accommodate all of these under one roof with amenities such as Wi-Fi, IT support, video conferencing equipment, printing, free parking, 24/7 access, snacks and coffee, mailbox and a dedicated location manager to meet your needs. Visit espaces.com to set up a tour and see for yourself.
Why do you think it's important for cities to have coworking spaces?
The innovation economy and resurgence of urban downtowns is changing how we do business. Places like E|SPACES provide a professional environment for mobile tech professionals who need a space occasionally to work or meet with clients or partners. By having corporate teams alongside entrepreneurs and small businesses, like our model at E|SPACES, we are opening up the possibilities for collaboration and economic growth in cities.
Do the majority of your members stay for a while or for a briefer period?
The flexibility of our range of workspaces allows professionals to stay for a short time to complete a project or reserve a dedicated space that is solely their office for as long as they need it. We have professionals and small businesses that set up shop in our furnished offices, which are dedicated spaces. Then, we have groups or corporate teams that are only looking for meeting space by the hour, and we have collaborative, shared workspace, where professionals come and go as they please.
What advantages does a coworking space provide a business over leasing a traditional office or working from home?
E|SPACES provides all the amenities of a traditional office without the overhead so you can focus on getting work done in a cost effective way. Our community network of professionals is an added bonus in allowing people to network and use each other’s services. E|SPACES also programs networking events and interactive presentations on other businesses services to help facilitate collaboration.
Who are ideal members for E|SPACES?
We are a space for everyone, including freelancers, entrepreneurs, small businesses, companies in transition, universities, organizations and corporate teams. You can choose from shared, collaborative workspace, meeting space, a dedicated office or a combination.
For more information about E|SPACES, visit their website or their Facebook page. E|SPACES offers a special rate for Chamber members. For more on the discount, contact Derek Rende at 423.661.7440 or [email protected].
Society of Work
Gray Gill of Southside Ceative sat down with Kelly Fitzgerald of Society of Work to learn more about the company's coworking space.
How would you describe Society of Work to someone who is not familiar with coworking spaces?
Society of Work is flexible shared office space. But the biggest thing that I always tell people is that our most important asset is our people. We did a survey recently and found that 80 percent of the people who work in the space had worked together. 70 percent of those people did not know each other before they joined Society of Work. So, we see a lot of cross pollination, and people utilizing other’s skill sets that they might not otherwise have direct access to. They come to Society of Work and connect with someone on a personal and professional level and they do business together. Essentially, coworking is a space that brings people together in a social way that leads to professional connections.
Why do you think it’s important for cities to have coworking spaces like Society of Work?
From a business perspective, as new people move to Chattanooga we tend to be the first stop for a lot of people trying to get plugged in to the community. And this size city can be challenging to get your foot in the door. We’re a conduit. Whether they join Society of Work or not, we want to connect them with people in the city. And it kind of becomes that front door for the small business, entrepreneurial ecosystem. But at the same time, we have a lot of companies that have a remote office in Chattanooga—they’re based in San Francisco or Chicago or wherever, but they’re able to have a presence in our community. And I think that’s super important because we’re helping to foster community for these remote locations and grow their team. And we are very intentional about helping them do that.
What are the advantages of having a space at Society of Work rather than leasing an office space or working from home?
As far as another office downtown, we are definitely for the smaller teams that are continuing to grow. It is the flexibility we offer—they can sign a six-month lease and after that it is month-to-month, so there is no pressure on them. We have seen teams start with two people and then grow to five or six and then go sign a traditional lease outside of Society of Work. And we love seeing that growth take place. But Society of Work is also ideal for small teams that might not have all the skillsets they need. Here, they have access to a whole community of people you can bring on as contractors to help out with a piece of your project. It’s also great for feedback when you can't get out of your own head. And with working from home, you miss out on that community. Plus, it is just nice to have the credibility for your business that comes from working at Society of Work. You have a professional space to have meetings and a downtown address.
Who are ideal members for Society of Work?
I would say ideal members for us are people who are invested in Chattanooga, or in the place they live. They want to be part of something bigger than what they are doing. Our members value a flexible schedule, being able to walk to lunch or grab coffee or meet another colleague downtown. And, we are not just for individuals and small teams. EPB currently has a corporate membership allowing employees to use Society of Work as flex space. So we have corporate members, as well as individuals. We have everyone from Hamilton County government entities and insurance companies, to nonprofits and small businesses, to developers, designers and other creatives. And that is the beauty of the community—diversity is what empowers Society of Work.
As highlighted in the interviews, coworking spaces are becoming viable long-term options for many businesses.
But, this wouldn't be a true Friday Five post without a concise, easy to digest top five reasons to give coworking spaces a try:
As your company expands, it becomes easier to create (unintentionally) an insular “bubble” around your employees. A coworking space brings together a diverse range of professionals in a variety of fields. This gives your business more opportunities to meet new talent, find business partners, investors or drinking buddies.
Very few businesses today are chained to their desks; a modern, globalized economy necessitates companies to be geographically nimble as they grow. Coworking spaces offer a variety of member plans to suit every kind of individual and business.
Inside coworking spaces, you’ll find all kinds of amenities to help you work hard and play hard. High quality coworking spaces, like E|SPACES and Society of Work, not only provide workspace for your team to collaborate, create and grow, but offer full service amenities that ultimately eliminate the hassle of managing workspaces.
By simply breaking the monotony of one’s desk space, employees find more meaning and inspiration in their work. Coworking spaces provide inspirational design and furniture elements that are specifically geared to accommodate a variety of work functions, from collaborative shared spaces to quiet, insulated rooms for individuals.
Every business dreams of having a downtown, high-rise office, but high rent costs are a major obstacle to startup businesses. Coworking offices offer a more financially feasible alternative to this dilemma.
Businesses transitioning from startup to enterprise inherently encounter a plethora of unique challenges and tough decisions.
But, with the evolution of coworking space, choosing a workspace isn't one of them.