Jennifer Vincent wants entrepreneurs to emerge from dungeon home offices, uninspiring kitchen tables and stop juggling coffee and a laptop on a small cafe table.
She has a vision of a hive of activity and creativity where entrepreneurs share office space, but aren’t necessarily in the same business.
“Sometimes in a home office it can be hard to focus and it is isolating. Here we are offering affordable workspace that is about meeting other contacts and support,” said Vincent, director and community manager for Cowork Penticton. “When you are around other people so focused and motived, the energy can be contagious.”
Located in the shell of an old church on the corner of Ellis and Eckhardt Avenue, Vincent pushes tables and chairs around an old piano left behind by the last tenants. Office chairs are moved here and there, as she maps out the potential of what configuration this open spaced room with light beaming in from the large windows has.
“I think I am just going to leave the piano right there, you never know,” she shrugs inferring that perhaps someone might want to play it.
Vincent can see graphic designers, video production crews, environmental consultants, accountants, other professionals and travelling business people chatting on couches she plans on putting in one of the downstairs rooms as they take a break from work and grab a coffee from the full kitchen.
The space is immense, it was once used for dance and fitness classes, and Vincent sees opportunity for small and home based business owners to hold workshops or community groups to hold meetings and events.
“We want to see lots of community support and see people embrace the idea. We think it could be a great community resource. It is also in a great location close to downtown. We have lots of parking but we want to encourage people to ride their bikes here because everything is so close by,” said Vincent, who pointed out the building also has a shower for those who work late or feel the need to clean up after biking there.
The Cowork idea is a new concept for Penticton, one that encourages comingling and collaborating. There is short term rental, plans for two private offices and space to hold large or small meetings. Vincent said the idea was spawned in San Francisco in response to the technology community who were mainly working from home and wanted the social aspect that telecommuting was lacking. The idea spread and now coworking spaces are found in many metropolitan areas around the world.
Vincent said coworking doesn’t have a competitive aspect to it. Ideally the space isn’t to be used for recruiting clients, but it is a spot to share resources and even collaborate on ideas.
“Cowork members are loyal and it is really like building a family when you are here,” said Vincent.
It also makes office space affordable as workers do not have to sign leases, buy a printer/copier/scanner, pay for cleaning or maintenance or even pay for utilities. Drop in fees for the day are $25. That gets you a desk, internet and coffee or tea from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. There are three membership tiers for those who want to be a regular part of the community that range from $300 to $500 offering different perks and 24/7 access.
Vincent is aiming to have Cowork up and running by April 1. They currently are waiting to see if the City of Penticton will pass their rezoning application.
For more information on Cowork Penticton visit their website at www.coworkpenticton.com.