Gathered around a polished wooden conference table on the mezzanine level of Northville’s Water Wheel Centre Building, Detroit-based Brooklyn Outdoor Advertising President and CEO Candice Simons led a staff meeting with employees Emily Nelson and Kiersten Hausmann one afternoon earlier this month.
Within shouting distance from the sharply-focused trio of advertising experts sat nurse/entrepreneur Cat Golden, ear buds engaged, laptop balancing on her criss-crossed legs, sunlight illuminating her from a nearby floor-to-ceiling, building-length window.
As jazz tunes flowed from strategically-placed speakers, a visitor could quickly conclude that the massive, open space was way too hip for a library and a little too laid back for a typical office setting.
Welcome to Amity Coworking, a two-month-old business that is thriving thanks to its pleasant work-away-from-work environment.
Coworking spaces like Amity and The Village Workshop, its neighbor two blocks south, are booming due to the millennial-generated rise in remote working.
For a monthly fee based on the member’s level of usage, everyone from entrepreneurs, start-up developers and even employees who already have a dedicated office (like Brooklyn Outdoor Advertising) can substitute a chair in a crowded coffee shop or the loneliness of their kitchen table, while ramping up their productivity alongside other like-minded people in a place too cool for words.
According to coworkingresources.org, the number of coworking spaces in the United States has grown from 4,528 in 2016 to 6,219 at the end of 2018 — statistics that don’t surprise Amity operations manager Gabrielle Guthrie.
“So far it seems like each day is busier than the day before,” Guthrie observed. “Just in the last two weeks, we’ve been growing rapidly, which I think is partially due to the fact that we’ve been stepping up the marketing.
“The younger generation doesn’t want to necessarily work in a traditional office setting all the time, which makes places like Amity appealing,” said Guthrie. “With coworking spaces, you can pop in occasionally or work remotely out of.”
Providing ‘a need for flexible space’
Located at 455 E. Cady St. in Northville, The Village Workshop’s eye-catching features include a cafe, event space and a maker’s space that allows members to get their hands dirty with metal and wood projects, work on cars and design objects with state-of-the-art technology.
“Independent contractors and remote workers are a huge, growing segment of our workforce,” said director of operations Tracey Fors. “The owners of our place noticed a need for flexible space, and when I say flexible, I mean people don’t want to exclusively go to a traditional office because they want to socialize more. That is why the coffee shops are so busy.
“Every time we would go to a coffee shop, they were packed. A lot of times, you can’t even find a place to sit. That’s when we started going with the trend.”
The Village Workshop offers three membership packages: a one-year, paid-in-full package that runs $1,419 and provides for full-access ID key and 50 percent off all classes held at the facility (not including costs of materials); a similar one-year membership that allows members to pay monthly; and a $189 month-by-month payment plan.
The energy flows
There’s usually a under-the-radar buzz flowing through Amity’s open floor plan setup thanks to the variety of professionals who are generating a noticeable energy.
“It’s cool to be able to meet different people doing different things,” said Guthrie, who said her members range from architects, developers and owners of clothing lines. It’s a great place to network and build connections.”
Amity memberships are divided into four tiers:
- Resident ($425/month), which includes a dedicated desk is an assigned work space that is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week;
Wayfarer ($210/month), a package that offers unassigned flex-seats that are distributed throughout the space;
Sojourner ($50/month), a drop-in-as-you-need-it membership that offers full access to the space six days a month; and
Visitor ($20/day), a day pass that appeals to professionals who need a moment to break away from routine or access extra resources.
Golden said Amity is a perfect setting for her series of entrepreneurial projects.
“It’s the space, it’s the natural light, there’s a really good energy and I can be creative here,” she said. “It’s calm enough that I don’t feel stressed, but lively enough that I feel really energized.”
Jesse Beeker, the founder of start-up Simple Tech Innovation, said the coworking concept came along just in time for him.
“I look at this place as exactly how I want to build my offices once I get going,” said Beeker. “It’s a very modern environment and a good working atmosphere.
“I’m at the advanced stage of my business, so having a good infrastructure with a low cost is important. I’m not spending a lot of money before I start bringing in revenue. I’m looking to use space more as I bring investors in to showcase some of the technology I have. The mezzanine is a great venue to host special events.”
All three Brooklyn Outdoor Advertising employees live in Northville, which makes Amity that much more appealing as a remote meeting place.
“The office that we work out of downtown (Detroit) is occasionally rented out for different things, so it’s nice to be here and have a place where we can gather to work remotely,” said Candice Simons. “The design is gorgeous; it’s an inspiring space for creativity. It’s always important to be inspired.
“I love the accessibility, too, that Amity offers. It’s easy to get in and out, there are a lot of nearby restaurants and coffee shops we can walk to — although the coffee is great here.”
For the right price, members can add storage lockers and have access to the space 24/7 via an access card.
“We have three meeting rooms along with events space upstairs that seats six,” Guthrie said. “We also have rooms that seat as few as two people comfortably.”
Guthrie said all of the members have been amiable.
“It’s actually really cool watching the members get to know one another, interacting and introducing themselves,” she said. “I’m planning a mixer so that everyone can come together and connect.”
Contact Ed Wright at email@example.com or 517-375-1113.
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