Reprinted with permission from Atlanta Parent Magazine
When Adrian C.M. Van Deusen’s family grew, his home no longer had room for an office. The owner of ITALLIS Communication and the operations director at BrainDx decided to try coworking at Alkaloid Networks. “The coworking environment puts me in that office space mentally and physically. It also allows me to create a clearer distinction between time to produce and family time,” he says.
Atlanta has coworking spaces for small businesses, companies, remote workers, solopreneurs, entrepreneurs and freelancers. If you’re a remote worker or a parent ready to go solo in the business world, here are five reasons why coworking might be the perfect fit for you.
1. Helps business owners
Jesse Triplett, the owner of Three Creative Search, a boutique recruiting firm, started his business a year and a half ago. At first, he worked from home. “There, I was pretty heavily distracted by life in general, taking away from the focus on business,” he says.
Triplett has been a member of Alkaloid Networks in Atlanta for six months, where he has experienced an increase in productivity and profit and a decrease in stress. “It’s a place where I can focus on work,” he says.
Eric Sharpe, the CEO and owner of Digital Envy, a digital marketing company, uses the coworking space at Strongbox West in Atlanta, along with his wife, Carrie Curtis, the founder of Post Provision. They have a 16-month-old daughter. With 24/7 access, they can work whenever they need to.
“Having a space for your office allows you to clear your head, lock the door and knock out work,” Sharpe says. “Sometimes, it can be hard to do at home when you have to be a parent and get ready for tomorrow’s activities, and your mind just can’t settle down on work.”
2. Keeps work at work
Andrew Stein works for a startup company focused on doctor and nurse teamwork. Before joining a coworking space, he worked from home and from coffee shops. He joined Alkaloid Networks about a year ago, and now, he works there and uses the conference rooms to meet with his Atlanta colleagues.
“It’s a reliable place where I’m not going to be distracted, since I’m surrounded by people who are also working,” says Stein, who is a parent to a 3-year-old son and 1-year-old daughter. “By going to an office, when you leave you’re done. I want to be able to turn off work and be present with my kids when I’m home.”
Jamie Bennett is the owner of The LifeStyle Group, a company that provides home organization and life coaching. She is the parent of a 15-year-old son and has been coworking for three years. She uses JoyCo, a coworking center in Norcross that opened in May.
“I became interested in coworking because I needed to get out of my home office. Additionally, I needed to establish boundaries for my family who never quite understood that I was working and couldn’t run quick errands with them,” she says. “This provides a clear separation between my work life and personal life. It has somehow formalized for everybody that I am actually ‘going to work’ when I head to JoyCo.”
When Adelle Magsombol started freelancing after giving birth to her son, she found working from home hard to do. She tried working in coffee shops, but if she had a conference call, she would often have to step outside and leave her belongings in the shop.
“Coworking makes everything really convenient for you, and there are no distractions from home,” she says. “I have dedicated this time that I’m here to work. As soon as I leave here, I’m done with work and can be a parent. You can make that distinction, which is much harder at home.”
3. Encourages collaboration
Kelly Glass, a user experience designer for Avanade, a professional services company, has a 19-month-old son. The company moved into FlatironCity in Atlanta two years ago. Before that, she worked remotely or on client sites.
“You’re isolated at home, and it can get very quiet,” she says. “You can bounce ideas off of people, and be around other people from other companies, so it’s socially engaging.”
Triplett meets with a legal recruiter who also uses Alkaloid to discuss their plans for the day, since they work similar jobs but in different markets.
“The office culture is great – being around other people that I can talk to about things, the stuff that’s hard about owning your own business and the successes,” he says.
Sharpe was intrigued by coworking spaces, as it had the flexibility in terms of growth potential as his business grew. But the collaborative environment also has been beneficial for his company.
“The sense of community can sometimes lead to referrals. The environment is a lot more relaxed and collaborative, usually less siloed, and I often hear plenty of laughter and people chatting,” he says.
4. Less corporate culture
Katharine Chestnut started Alkaloid Networks four and a half years ago when her daughter was 12 and had started attending a hybrid school, which is part academic classes and part homeschooling.
“I needed to be able to spend time with her and take her to class,” Chestnut says. “Coworking gave me, as a parent, the flexibility to do what I needed to do.”
Triplett’s daughter is in first grade, and the flexibility afforded to him at a coworking space allows him to pick her up from school.
“I can catch up on the school day for my daughter. It’s great for me to be active in her life, and I can allow myself to be present in the now,” he says.
Stein worked in the corporate world for more than six years, and he is currently the COO of 1Unit. He enjoys the relaxed atmosphere coworking provides. He also appreciates the flexibility of creating his own schedule.
“You don’t have to be there every day, but you can go when you need to. If you are a parent that works at home, you should try it,” he says.
At Launch and Go Workspace in Peachtree City, Magsombol has been able to book a conference room, so she could work and watch her 6-year-old son at the same time. She also appreciates that there is no dress code, as she can dress up or wear casual clothes.
5. Networking opportunities
Center for Civic Innovation in Atlanta hosts Leadership Breakfasts. SharedSpace in Dunwoody and Smyrna hold Lunch & Learns, weekly happy hours and community yoga classes. The community app allows members to post on message boards. Atlanta Technical Village has an It Takes A Village Pre-Accelerator program for startups led by women and people of color. The Women + Tech program supports women through networking, teaching and community.
As a member of JoyCo, Bennett appreciates the members and the sense of community. JoyCo holds happy hours, Zumba classes and more.
“I decided to join coworking for the sense of community and structured work environment. We have several events throughout the month where we learn from each other, celebrate our wins and get assistance troubleshooting challenges,” she says.
Magsombol has been coworking for four years, and she has benefited from the available networking opportunities. While living in Amsterdam, she worked at a WeWork, and she was able to find a designer through the member network who she could meet with in person if she needed to.
Magsombol met her co-founder through networking at Launch and Go Workspace. The two immediately clicked, and they founded BirdsNTrees, a media company. At members-only events, she has been able to network and find clients looking for marketing services.
“You can find someone in the building who already does things – marketing, bookkeeping – a small business needs. It can help bring you new business for your business,” she says.
What is coworking?
Workers, often from different companies, share office space, equipment, utilities and services. Spaces can be accessible 24/7, so workers don’t have a set schedule.
Memberships include a variety of options and are offered monthly or yearly.
- Some places offer day passes, ranging from $15 with Elevator Factory to $45 with Alkaloid Networks for three days. “Hot desk” memberships allow you to use whatever free desk is available and cost from $79 with Axis Replay to $149 with 3411 Coworking a month.
- A “dedicated desk” membership means you have a reserved desk and may come with a lockable filing cabinet for your belongings. These memberships range from $257 at Strongbox West to $425 at Atlanta Tech Village.
- Purchasing a private office membership gets you your own personal office for $500 at 3411 Coworking to a private suite at IgniteHQ for $2,000.
- Membership levels often include credits toward printing, guest passes and other perks. Pricing varies depending on the option you choose.
- A space dedicated solely to work helps keep you more focused on your tasks, rather than working from home or a coffee shop.
- Many spaces have special members-only events or trainings to help you meet new people and improve your skill set.
– Emily Webb