Small Business Month: Cowork is blooming in Penticton

Community is the heart and measure of Cowork Penticton's success

Cowork Penticton co-owner Jennifer Vincent (left) said partnerships with organizations and collaborations on projects provides a richness for their client’s experiences.

Cowork Penticton co-owner Jennifer Vincent (left) said partnerships with organizations and collaborations on projects provides a richness for their client’s experiences.

The founder and co-manager of Cowork Penticton says a reason for its success comes from it being a home away from home.

Jennifer and Nicholas Vincent said since opening four and a half years ago, it’s experienced members starting businesses, shifting directions, changing jobs, having babies, falling in love and even selling houses to each other.

For those unaware, Cowork Penticton is a professional workspace designed for independent workers such as entrepreneurs, freelancers, remote workers, academics and micro-businesses. “We offer work spaces, business amenities, meeting spaces and social spaces,” said Jennifer Vincent. “The nature of coworking is that it provides the tools that a business person needs, when they need it.”

Read more: Ditch the dungeon and Cowork instead

Jennifer pointed out that community is the heart of Cowork Penticton, and the measure of its success.

“We firmly believe that coworking spaces are a critical aspect of mental health for their members,” she said. “Working in isolation is hard. The dream of spending the day in your pyjamas at the computer with your laptop isn’t always ideal. Cowork Penticton is a space that can be a home away from home.”

In addition, members also provide a support network for one another, and meet up each week over a beer to unwind, babies and all. Cowork’s success, said Vincent, can be measured by the numbers of people through the doors but they prefer to measure the depth and richness of their experiences here.

“Nothing grows in a vacuum and we believe that coworking spaces excel when they are integrated into the business eco-system,” she said. “We are proud to have partnership with organizations that support entrepreneurship such as Startup Canada, Futurpreneur, Small Business B.C., and Community Futures. We have collaborated with the City of Penticton on several projects, and wherever possible we like to partner with local businesses to enhance our events or reach broader markets.”

Read more: Building a working community gets Top 40 nod

Memberships vary from daily drop-ins to fully secured offices, and there is a special rate for not-for-profit organizations who use it their home base, and some have mailing addresses with them or use one of the meeting rooms when they need extra space and professionalism.

“Our meeting rooms have seen any kind of business gathering you can imagine, from investor pitches to AGM’s, to video conferences, and recruitment interviews,” she said. “Coworking is also about the incidental knowledge sharing that occurs between people who end up working near each other, something we call ‘accelerated serendipity.’”

Each month about 40 people and businesses are invoiced and since forming, they’ve worked with about 275 businesses and individuals, that features a varied customer base, including: start-up businesses, remote workers, freelancers, professionals and hobbyists. They work in areas such as law, marketing, architecture, hydrology, academia, viticulture, wearable tech, graphic design, healthcare, web development, event planning, oil and gas, custom guitar manufacturing, and journalism.

Jennifer said Cowork is well-suited for Penticton.

“We have a population of professionals, freelancers, and entrepreneurs who choose to live here because of our incredible outdoor amenities and great climate,” she said. “Now that coworking has gained some maturity in the market, people are more familiar with it. New residents and travellers to our city now expect to find a coworking space, just as one would expect to find a library or a supermarket.”

Coworking spaces are revolutionizing the way people work from their laptops, said Jennifer.

“By providing plug-and-play work stations in professional environments, the coworking movement has enabled the at-home worker and the coffee-shop cruiser a third option for getting down to business.”

The combination of Cowork and technology is causing a shift in the typical workforce from sitting in an office to renting space out of the home. Not only is technology making work more mobile, it is closing physical distances to enable teams around the world to collaborate successfully.

“We have many members who support remote clients or connect with their teams in cities scattered across the globe,” said Jennifer. “The follow on from these options for workers is that people are starting to seek flexible terms of work; particularly the younger demographic. They are able to envision a workstyle that enables them to travel, or to work around their own lifestyle choices. Some members work on weekends or at night while others only use our space when they have current contracts.”

Jennifer said it is great Cowork is being associated with Small Business Week.

“It has been my honour to witness the development and growth of our members’ projects and passions,” she said. “I am fiercely passionate about our city and region and believe that we are so fortunate to be here.”

“Small businesses are the backbone of the provincial economy and here in Penticton, those with less than five employees make up a huge percentage of employment. This week, we tip our hats to everyone involved in supporting small business, from customers, to employees, to founders. You make our landscape rich, resilient, and diversified.”