December 11, 2015
As part of a distributed work force, I spend a lot of time working in and out of coffee shops around town. Now, it's really no different than working in my own home office except that it's inherently more social, I get some sunshine (San Diego), and the food/drink combos are great. When I tell people about my job…well this picture sums it up pretty perfectly:
All jokes aside though, there's something lacking no matter where I choose to work. And, that's a sense of community: I don't have other people I can brainstorm ideas with, there's spotty WiFi more often than not, and nobody cares if I sit in a shop for hours or leave after 30 minutes.
I'm not the only person to feel that burn. In fact, a lot of entrepreneurs and startup companies without a dedicated office space feel it. It's what's given rise to the coworking space in recent years. However, according to Phil Tadros, that element of community still isn't present at all coworking spaces.
When Tadros founded his company Doejo, it was built as a digital agency that works with brands on web and mobile design and development. Given his mindset on coworking and community, a little over a year ago Tadros had an idea to open a special coworking space in downtown Chicago called, well, SPACE.
SPACE was destined, from square one, to be a supportive and collaborative community paired with a coffee shop miasma. After all, Tadros is a total coffee pro and wanted to bring in some of the positive elements of coffee shop work to SPACE. So, if the overall goal of SPACE was to heighten the Chicago community of startups, Tadros would need to lower the barrier to entry for coworking in general. Step one to doing that is to build a list of epic perks that SPACE offers their coworking members:
- Like-minded people, with access to private, semi-private and open collaborative space;
- Beautiful loft offices just steps from the Chicago River, easy access to the CTA;
- 24/7 access access to the building and space for extended hours, events, and moonlighting;
- High-speed fiber Internet;
- Unlimited coffee from our friends at Bow Truss, to make sure your mornings start fresh;
- Special guests, workshops, and classes to drive innovative conversations;
- 6 conference rooms with 55 inch Chromecast enabled TVs and BYOP conference phone dock;
- Brand new RICOH copying suite allows members to print, copy, scan, staple, and collate into the night – services available through PrintWithMe;
- Incoming and outgoing mail;
- Always a keg on tap of locally brewed Aquanaut, for victory laps and happy hour; and
- They keep things clean with a professional crew on site twice a week or as needed.
Entrepreneurs and companies interested in desks at SPACE can choose from a variety of options to best suit their tastes as well. A private office runs you $750 a month, a dedicated desk $364, and a shared desk space is $250. SPACE also offers options for virtual offices for only $50 a month as well. And if you can't pay…well, that's alright. SPACE will subsidize the cost of a desk for a startup or entrepreneur until they have the actual capital to pay for their desk. You see, this is what I'm talking about when I say it's a different kind of coworking space that actually cares about its companies and wants to engage the community.
I know, I know – SPACE is awesome and there's no denying that. And if you think the community engagement is on point, just wait until you see the interior aesthetic of SPACE. The team offers tours of the rental space for people who want to go in-person, but I realize the wind chill in Chicago might be so low you can't step outside without freezing these days. Fret not, I've prepared a virtual tour of sorts so that everybody can check out SPACE. Note – they have two different offices in Chicago at the moment:
I could tell you about how awesome SPACE is until the cows come home, but perhaps you'd rather hear it straight from the people who actually work out of SPACE. To that end, I asked five different SPACE coworkers why they chose the office and what some of their favorite perks are. Included in the group is one of our own, distributed Tech.Co team members who calls SPACE home.
Despite the fact that everybody was asked the same questions, the responses were pretty varied. Oh, except for the parts about coffee. Everybody at Space is obsessed with Bow Truss Coffee (which is understandable, because you get as much of it as you want for free – and some claim it's the best in the city).
Rudy Cordero, Director of Operations / Wholesale & Retail at Bow Truss Coffee Roasters
“I choose SPACE because of the ability to work from a location that is in the heart of Chicago. This allows me to be on the go, at a moment's notice if need be. It is also a great place to meet clients for wholesale meetings. I also appreciate the ability to host large events. We routinely use the offices for Retail GM meetings and vendor follow ups. As our team grows, our ability to host large meetings becomes key to our communication standards.”
Victor Saad, Founder of the Experience Institute
“The location is great. The team is awesome. The community is smart and kind. The environment is clean, quiet, and accessible. Not to mention the Bow Truss coffee, Great WiFi, Conference rooms, and event space. It's all run by an awesome staff that genuinely cares about the Chicago community too.”
Jonathan Treble, CEO of PrintWithMe
“There are many reasons why I chose SPACE, but foremost among them is their flexibility in allowing me to add desks even rent a private office as our company grows. Also, Madison and Genevieve are extremely helpful and genuinely interested in each company's success.
Some of my favorite perks include: signing for packages, brewing fresh and free Bow Truss Coffee regularly, and organizing a weekly happy hour for all members. I can reserve conference rooms easily and always find a quiet space for a phone call.”
Kristan Saloky, Campus Commander of General Assembly Chicago
“Before we moved into SPACE, we held a few events and workshops there. From the start we felt connected to the friendly, community based atmosphere. We also felt a kinship to the rustic brick and industrial steel aesthetic, and we were excited to share a space with some of the most exciting, innovative start-ups in Chicago.
As an education-based startup, one of the best perks has been the ability to work with some of the other tenants in SPACE, who have graciously and excitedly led workshops, given talks, and contributed to our community at General Assembly. Plus, the combination of Bow Truss coffee and the Friday “beer o'clock” keg of Aquanaut is a perk that can't be beat. They've even brought in a brewer from time to time to chat about what they have on tap that week — which is always awesome!”
Fran Rugo, Marketing Manager of Tech.Co
“The actual coworking space is a perfect amount of quiet and human interaction with the wonderful people working from SPACE. It's also a great location to meet with the internship team in the loop since it's surrounded by many universities.
Madison and Genevive are by far my favorite perk – they are the most helpful, cheerful, supportive and will always listen when you're training for a marathon or talking about your latest project. Oh, and let's not forget the unlimited Bow Truss Coffee, duh! Best coffee in Chicago, hands down. It's also nice to have amazing friends at General Assembly to say hello to and collaborate with.
The flexibility on space – no pun intended – is great: the conference rooms have big windows for when the sun is out, lounge areas, and my private office space are all amazing. Plus, the art makes it a fun workplace and the Lego wall is super cool even though I haven't had a chance to play with it yet.”
This article is brought to you in partnership with SPACE.
Image Credit: SPACE PR Team
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