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Co-Working spaces may become the new normal workplace

The Grand Rapids Chamber of Commerce just re-opened their co-working space to members.

GRAND RAPIDS, Michigan — Co-Working spaces were gaining popularity before the pandemic hit.

Simply put, the spaces are a communal concept where remote workers, entrepreneurs and community groups can gather to network, and have access high speed internet and conference rooms. 

And compared to brick and mortar downtown business spaces, the cost for it all is dirt cheap.

The Grand Rapids Chamber of Commerce has now re-opened their ‘open floor’ work café to its members.

They added sanitation dispensers, masks, and technology that reads body heat and lets you take a health survey on your mobile device, before entering.

Vice President of Marketing and Communication Omar Cuevaz says prior to the pandemic it wasn’t rare to see the work café full of members both working and networking.

“Our thought process was if we build it they will come, and people came and so now we had to pause for a moment but slowly we are building that back up again," Cuevaz said.

West Michigan Counseling Center Therapist Emily Taylor says your most productive work environment is based off of your personality type.

“People that are self-motivated, I haven't seen productivity be a big issue. Now, when you are dealing with people that thrive off of praise from colleagues, those people are being less productive at home,” Taylor said.

With her clients she has seen the coping problems and behavioral changes first hand.

“This morning I got off a telehealth call with a client who has been having trouble being present with his family.”

Taylor said due to constant access to his works server, even when he was off he would think of more things he needed to do.

She recommends building a mental barrier between work and home, even if you work at home. She advocates for home offices because that creates a physical barrier, which helps sometimes.

"I come in here a couple hours of the day, grab my free coffee which we get from Ferris, and I just stay focused in my spot unless I have a team in here with me and we reserved one of the work rooms," Cuevas said about his spot in the work café.

Co-Working spaces serve as a physical barrier, giving people the same commute of a workplace environment but in an office that they choose with peers that work in different industries.

“Well, what we did here is we created this space to target those businesses that are no longer thinking about Brick and Mortar, and are now looking to work a little differently," Cuevas said.

Local Co-Work company, The Factory, unlike other spaces only closed very temporarily after the first shutdown in the spring of 2020.

The Factory has been a co-working space now in Grand Rapids for over ten years, switching owners

They quickly changed pace and kept evolving their procedures as COVID-19 restrictions kept changing.

To access their space they charge as low as $20 for a day pass, to around $350 a month for a pass to access the facility 24/7.

The Grand Rapids Chamber of Commerce give their members access to the café for free. Their membership fee is around $750 per year.

Renting your own physical office space, alone without all the amenities, is easily over $300 per month. An average office suite can be over $3,000. Property owners usually charge per square foot and length of time.

Other co-working spaces have changed to a niche type of affordable private offices and rooms to maintain business throughout the pandemic. All of the spaces we spoke to agreed that the pandemic  completely wiped out business for their open floor communal spaces.

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