Professionals Thrive More At Coworking Spaces

Feb 24, 2016

A group of programmers for app company Ustyme collaborating in their "team room" at the Reno Collective.

Researchers are finding that people using coworking spaces are more satisfied than those in traditional offices. Reno Public Radio’s Anh Gray stops by one spot downtown to find out why.

“This is an example of a team room,” Reno Collective Co-founder Colin Loretz is showing what his coworking space has to offer. “We give them the space and the desks, and they go to town on what they want it to be.”

Collaborating in that room is a group of programmers for app company Ustyme.  

“When I go to the collective, it feels like I’m actually going somewhere; I’m actually doing something,” programmer Taylor Coleman says. “I have a three-month-old daughter at home so working from home is kind of difficult.”

Coleman says coworking gives him access to, well, other tech geeks.  

“Let’s say you really know Mongo DB or you really know JavaScript as a web developer, some of these guys out here are doing some really advance stuff,” Coleman says. “There’s a gentleman outside who’s doing a bunch of  C ++ algorithms, based on the physical properties of light.”

A self-service coffee bar is one of the amenities offered at the Reno Collective.

Coleman is describing that feeling of being part of a larger professional community, and that’s what's driving more remote workers to join collaborative work spaces. That’s what University of Michigan business professor Gretchen Spreitzer points to in her recent Harvard Business Review article.

“We’re seeing more and more individuals working independently,” Spreitzer says. “These people are looking for work communities instead of working out of a home office or working out of a coffee shop.”

And, Spretizer says that people in this type of environment seem to be doing quite well. She surveyed several hundred people who use coworking spaces in the U.S., and they reported an average of almost six on a seven-point scale for thriving: defined in the study as having meaningful work, job control, and feeling part of a community.

“The thriving scores that we’re seeing in coworking spaces are quite high, much higher than traditional work environments,” Spretizer says.

Coworking spaces popped up on the national scene about a decade ago, the first in Reno was a smaller version of the Collective started in 2009. It has since evolved into the current two-story, almost 6,000 square-foot space with wall-to-wall windows, hence it’s nickname as the “fishbowl.” Co-founder Colin Loretz who was giving me a tour earlier  says the Collective gives a broad range of professionals options.

Open spaces provides a variety of spots for people to work.

“With us, you have a membership similar to like a gym, so that flexible model will allow you to go month-to-month,” Loretz says.

But Loretz, admits coworking isn’t for everyone.

“It can be distracting,” Loretz syas.We’ve had some authors come in, and say, ‘we can’t write a book in this environment.’ That’s fine, if you need a Walden Pond type thing, go and find that.”

But many people are choosing the Collective and Loretz says they have about 120 members, and 30 or 40 people show up on a daily basis.

“We’ve had some people completely working on their own separate things decide that they work really well together on one project and start a company together, raise money from investors, hire other people, and like most startups do fail, that one did fail,” Loretz says. “But that they’re seeing that happen is important because for every 10, one or two of those is going to be successful.”

Rob Armstrong is hoping that Bombora, his business marketing startup will make it. He recently relocated to Reno from New York.

“I was going to move to the Bay Area, but it’s so expensive—not only cost of living but hiring people, retaining people—that I thought, ‘let’s try Reno for a year because it has a startup scene that’s growing,’” Armstrong says.

Bombora is a business marketing startup. Co-founder Rob Armstrong relocated to Reno from New York.

Armstrong briefly worked out of his home then joined the Collective. His company now works in what’s called a “team room” a designated spot for just one company. He's since hired four people to join him.

“If you’re starting an office for the first time, there’s a lot of details that are daunting if you haven't done it before,” Armstrong says.

Being in a coworking space, Armstrong says, frees him from the stress of taking on a long lease or buying office furniture. This way, he can focus on growing his startup.

For public relations freelancer Rachel Kingham, she credits networking for helping her grow her business.

“Probably half of my clients have been referrals from people I’ve met and spoken with here at the Collective,” Kingham says.

As a mom to two kids, one who’s under a year, Kingham says another perk is that she’s been able to fit some mommy duties into her professional life.

“One of the little things that I carry around with me because I’m still breastfeeding my nine-month-old is I carry around a pump, a breast pump,” Kingham says. “And I’m not the only one. There’s private spaces that you can just tuck away in. It’s not what the Collective is known for but it’s something that makes it absolutely flexible.”

Like Kingham, many workers want to find that elusive work-life balance. And with more people working remotely, the coworking trend is growing. In Reno, the Collective is one of a handful of others, and they’re becoming more specialized, with some targeting business incubation or even the beauty industry.