Coworking Spaces in Chapel Hill Offer a New Way to Work
Coworking is the new working from home.
It’s a way for entrepreneurs, remote employees and freelancers to find the collegiality and structure often missing from a home office, without the commitment and headaches of leasing their own space.
And in Chapel Hill, it’s booming.
The Launch Chapel Hill business incubator features coworking as a big benefit for its startups. Franklin Street Yoga’s The Well offers coworking memberships exclusively for women. Perch Studios, just down the street in Carrboro, is home to freelance and remote workers who want a daily routine.
The appeal for coworking space to entrepreneurs is clear, explained Dina Rousset, director of Launch Chapel Hill. When founders of small businesses and startups are working to realize their vision, they want to be as unrestricted and free of interruptions as possible.
“Coworking spaces are kind of the new way real estate is done for companies,” Rousset said. “A lot of companies don’t want to have to deal with signing a long-term lease, and getting furniture, and figuring out bathroom supplies.”
Business forecasts predict a 28 percent increase in the number of coworking spaces in the year 2017. Renting a traditional office requires, on average, a five-year lease. A small business or startup either has to start in an office that’s too large and hope it grows into it or rent an office it grows out of long before the lease is up. Coworking spaces allow for either a month-to-month membership or shorter lease terms.
Launch Chapel Hill
Launch Chapel Hill recently expanded their space in downtown Chapel Hill. Photo by Lindsey Moureau
The coworking space is just one of the services Launch Chapel Hill provides for promising businesses and startups through its business accelerator program. The 22-week program provides access to marketing, accounting and legal resources, individual mentorship, entrepreneurs-in-residence and a collaborative office space.
Tiffany Devereux, founder of Jury X, a jury-consulting firm, says the business accelerator program increased her understanding of how to run a business.
“I enjoyed everything about the process,” Devereux said. “It reminded me of being in school a little bit just because there was a lot of flexibility; however, there were lots of resources available.”
Previously, Devereux had run her business out of her home. She says Launch provided her with a space and resources that helped her expand Jury X. Working in a space with other businesses helped her learn how to better manage her business. “Being present and being able to talk to people is a great tool in being able to further a business,” Devereux said. “I kind of miss that.”
Quantworks, a company that provides data monetization, analytics solutions and more to both established and early-stage companies, also started in the business accelerator program at Launch.
“Launch was established as a way of bringing together the county the town and the university,” said Managing Principal Nick Ghitelman. “I think that, to us, is the most important piece about it. It truly is an accelerator designed for this community.”
Perch Studios in Carrboro also has a private office suite for startups and small businesses that features 24/7 access, a conference room and a phone booth. Several small businesses use the space, including a boutique web business and a local plumbing business, owner Betsey Elbogen said.
Perch Studios also rents private offices and space at communal tables to remote employees and freelancers.
Kelly Bodie, a member of Perch Studios, works remotely for a nonprofit. Coworking is a better fit better for her than working from home, she said.
“I needed the tradition of get up, leave my house, go to work, put in quality time at work, leave, go home and unplug,” Bodie said.
Freelance copywriter Adam Green said he’s more productive in the coworking space at Perch. “Working in a coworking space eliminates a lot of distractions that tend to pop up at home,” Green said.
Elbogen schedules activities for Perch members to create community. The movie nights, potlucks and a weekly happy hour at Steel String, a local brewery allows people in the space to know each other, she said.
“Not only do people use each other’s skill sets here, but also there’s friendships,” said Elbogen. “I think that’s just as important: friendships are developed here.”
Franklin Street Yoga
The Well was opened by the owner of Franklin Street Yoga. Photo by Aramide Gbadamosi.
There is also a coworking space exclusively for women. The owner of Franklin Street Yoga recently created The Well, a social club, coworking space and boutique for women a couple doors down from the yoga studio..Membership includes access to the coworking space, unlimited coffee and tea and a weekly yoga class.
Lori Burgwyn, owner of both the coworking space and yoga studio, opened The Well because she wanted to create a safe space for women to work.
“By being women-only, it kind of became a safe space where women felt more protected,” Burgwyn said. “Also, when we come together as women, we’re more open, so when we have these events like resume building, or, I had one earlier this year where business-women talk about mistakes and how they recovered from them, I find we’re just more open to sharing.”