Yesterday morning was one of those rare moments in which I traveled to a meeting outside of Groundwork! My destination? The brand-new Workbar@Staples location in Norwood. I was excited to check out the latest in coworking innovation in the flesh (er, concrete?), and I also got to work on a video project with a Workbar member.
Groundwork! joined the Workbar Network because we believed in the incredible value and convenience it would add to a Groundwork! membership. And while I appreciate this as a coworking operator, it was enlightening to don my freelancer hat and see what it’s like to leverage the Workbar Network as a member.
Networking Made Easy
I’m not alone in the ranks of coworking operators who have side gigs. When your workplace provides you with a endless supply of leads on fun projects, it can be hard to say no. So I connected with Mary Adams, a Workbar Boston member, on a video editing project for XPX: Exit Planning Exchange. XPX is a community of professional advisors who help business owners plan an exit strategy.
We needed to stage a video training session with Mary and some of the XPX Chapter leaders, so we decided to convene at the new Workbar@Staples in Norwood.
Coworking in the Burbs
The new Workbar at Staples locations are innovative because they bring coworking to the suburbs. Surely, if folks in big cities need to get out of their homes and coffee shops for a more professional and social work experience, folks in the suburbs have this need too.
Additionally, there’s a huge benefit for me and anyone else working with clients in Boston: the Workbar@Staples locations offer a central place to meet, with free and ample parking and no need to battle city traffic.
The Workbar@Staples space has an urban-sleek look and feel, similar to the Workbar Hub locations in Boston and Cambridge. The conference rooms are outfitted with the latest technology, and ours featured a fancy digital whiteboard. Parking was SUPER easy, and the community manager Devon was very friendly and welcoming.
This space just opened in August, so we will see how this experiment grows. Groundwork’s location in a “tier 3” city (in terms of population) means that we face many of the same challenges a coworking space in a suburb will: educating people and getting them to shift their idea of what an office should look like.
This challenge is also the greatest opportunity of coworking outside of major cities: we get to bring cutting-edge facilities and a new work mentality to people who might not otherwise have the access or exposure.
Although my role at Groundwork! demands me to be here in New Bedford on most days, I will continue to get out and meet people in the network whenever I can. In the two years we’ve been operating in New Bedford, I’ve come to appreciate just how important a role in the community a coworking space can play. I predict that in the not-too-distant future spaces like ours will play a central role in every town as centers of connection and thought, like taverns did back in the days of Paul Revere. And if we can network our coworking spaces together, imagine what kinds of modern-day revolutions we can launch?