A recent article in the Chicago Tribune about the rising trend of “co-working” space (shared space where the self-employed or telecommuting employee can plug in to work) got me thinking again about the benefits of such a space for Northfield. Is there a market?
The local coffeehouses are serving this function now, but I believe there may be an additional need for a place more conducive to work which still provides the social benefits. Shared work sites across the country have similar features – generally an open room with desks, some meeting rooms, maybe a kitchen; most are in the $150-300/month range.
From the Sept. 8 article:
…co-workers have included computer programmers and Web site developers, road-warrior salesmen who need a quiet place to make sales calls, a graduate student writing his doctoral dissertation and even a woman who runs a dog-walking business.
That’s a typically broad cross section of the people who use coworking sites, part of what author Daniel Pink calls “Free Agent Nation,” the independent contractors and freelance workers who can work anywhere as long as they can plug in a laptop, use their cell phones and hook up to the Internet.
As an indication of how big that nation is becoming, the U.S. Census Bureau reported that the number of single-person businesses increased from 16.5 million in 2000 to 20.4 million in 2005.
For more details on this trend, see coworking.info.
Let’s pretend that we had an appropriately configured space here in Northfield. Are there those who would sign up at $150/month? Is there even a need for such a space? I think yes, knowing a large number of self-employed and entrepreneurial types who don’t have dedicated office space.