Affordable workspace options for small business owners and freelancers in Columbus

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The coworking movement is creating quite a buzz in Columbus. Coworking is a cafe-like community/collaboration space for developers, writers and independents. It’s sometimes known as collaborative coworking. Tina Goodman runs Sandbox, a coworking space in the Short North area of Columbus. She says the coworking movement is popular on the west coast. “Cities like Seattle probably have 20 to 30 spaces and it’s very common and they range in size and its just gradually made it’s way across the country and there are actually a couple of spaces in Ohio, but not, we’re very new to Columbus.” Neal Roberts opened a coworking space called Qwirk last week in German Village. He elaborates on the coworking concept. “Coworking is the first entity really designed specifically to serve those types of people who need a long-term viable, affordable, fully equipped solution to run their legitimately professional company.”

Roberts predicts that small business owners will see the upside of this arrangement as the economy continues to change. “More and more people are working from home or entrepreneurs or start ups or telecommuters. Have been looking for a more viable option, or should I say a more viable alternative to working from home. Or a solution for when their home environment, their home office, isn’t working ie. The kids are at home on a snow day, the power outage; something along those lines.”

Freelancers and small business owners often meet at coffee shops and delis offering free wifi. But collaborating with others is a draw for Brian Jones. He attended Qwirk’s open house last week:

“It’s a great opportunity especially as an independent consultant who works by himself a lot come out and socialize, meet some people, get some work done and just bounce ideas off others.”

Even though coworking appears to be trendy, Jones says it’s a much needed resource. “It’s a trend now, but when you think about it, that needs been there for a while. I mean, people have been working out of their homes more and more and more over the past eight, ten years or so, probably more than that. And so there’s been this need to be social and not have the isolation and finally someone addressed it with something that’s affordable.”

Uses for coworking space varies an attorney might utilize the facilities to take depositions as opposed to using an expensive hotel room.

Coworking spaces generally have everything you need to be productive in a work environment. There’s parking, coffee and beverages, a copy and fax machine, a projector for presentations, free wifi, conference rooms and, of course, people.

The cost for using space at a coworking location generally runs about $250 a month. Weekly and daily rates are also available. The rent is reasonable compared to an executive suites price. Though you don’t get all of the bells and whistles of an executive suites that’s just fine for Roberts. “I simply just need a place where I can go that’s got a desk and a chair and all the productivity stuff I need. And that’s it. That’s all I need.”

Meanwhile, Jones says he’s thrilled that Columbus is making its mark in the coworking industry. “I’m really happy that Columbus is taking advantage of these things and Columbus is really making their mark as finding innovative ways for people to work and produce a lot of value.”

By the end of April, there should be two fully operating coworking spaces in the Columbus area.

Kim Fox, WOSU News.

Additional resources:

Sandbox Columbus

Qwirk

Dublin Entrepreneurial Center

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