Imagine you’re looking for commercial space for your start-up or free-lance business. What would be your impression of an opportunity if the words “kindness” and “inclusiveness” were listed at the top of the list of selling points? If the landlord included a private nursing-mom breakroom, an onsite book club offering, and the chance to mentor female high school students hoping for a career in business, would those benefits appeal to you?
Co-working is practical for solo entrepreneurs of all genders because it transforms the fixed cost of a long-term office lease into the variable cost of a monthly membership fee. It also fosters collaboration and allows for physical space growth at the speed of market success. Membership prices usually range from $75 to $350 a month, depending on usage, the square footage wanted, and equipment access needs. Private offices cost more, though they are usually priced well under comparable rentals.
The upside of women-only co-working sites is that they are intended to speak to the female heart as well as her analytical business mind. There’s nothing second-rate about the space; design is mindful of gender-specific needs and preferences including a collaborative open floor plan with high ceilings, lots of natural light, and comfortable furniture. The Hivery in Mill Valley, California is one example. Out of 10,000 submissions from the US and Canada, The Hivery won Best Office Space at the Wayfair Tastemaker Awards with judges from HGTV.
In addition, developers consider women’s business challenges. Memberships may even include in-house advisers to help members gain access to capital. The Hivery’s business description: “The Hivery is a beautiful, inspiring women’s co-working lab that is creative, collaborative and invigorating.” In the past year, memberships have gone from 28 to nearly 250, with a couple thousand women using the site at least once in 2016 to work, collaborate, or attend a workshop. Recent offerings included a movie screening of the movie “Human”, a branding workshop, and a writer’s circle open to all. There’s a monthly membership meeting to explore new ideas, and some member businesses are marketed on The Hivery’s Facebook page.
Sharing a workspace and equipment is now a bonafied way of doing business for entrepreneurs and freelancers in the new gig economy. Small Business Labs/Emergent Research, provided a 2016 co-working space count of 11,100 sites. Its U.S. growth projections call for site growth to 26,000 spaces, with 3.8 million members by 2020. In the global marketplace, membership in a co-working site is expected to include as many as 3.8 million users. Inside all those figures is a strong emergent trend: women-only workspaces.
Professional business success is obviously top priority for any entrepreneur, but spiritual growth, personal satisfaction and business inspiration are increasingly valued, too. These intangibles are just what many co-working members see as the real benefit of sharing space. Ariane Trelaun commented, “One of the greatest things about my 2016 was joining The Hivery. Working there regularly, developing new friendships and collaborations, and just generally being inspired regularly by the beauty of the physical space and the vision of its founder – wow. All have improved my business immeasurably, and my life, too.”