With the recent opening of Ottawa’s newest co-working space, the city might be seeing an emerging trend towards shared offices.
Julie Myhre, Centretown News
Ian Graham (left), founder of The Code Factory says his company provides opportunities to network.
Currently, there are two co-working spaces: Freedom Café, which opened last month, and the Code Factory, which opened in May 2008.
A co-working space is a business that rents office space to individual consultants and different startup companies in a specific demographic.
For example, Freedom Café in Westboro targets the sales industry, while The Code Factory, located at Bank and Queen streets, caters to the technology sector.
“Not very many people know about these places because the concept is still pretty new,” says André Olivier, an employee at Freedom Café.
One of North America’s first co-working spaces opened in San Francisco approximately five years ago.
Toronto, Montréal, Boston, New York, Philadelphia and parts of Europe have since opened similar businesses.
“I think we’ve done a good job at raising awareness in the technological community but we’re also looking at branching out into the more creative fields too, like graphic design,” says Ian Graham, founder of The Code Factory.
The Code Factory has rented rooms to about 10 new companies and 100 independent consultants.
At present, no startups have grown enough to move out and operate from a space of their own.
Since last month’s opening, three startups have rented workspaces from Freedom Café.
Pricing for the two locations vary.
The Code Factory charges a minimum of $4 an hour or $20 a day, while Freedom Café operates on a member rate and a non-member rate.
Members pay $100 per month for 20 hours of use and non-members pay $30 an hour.
Facilities include workstations, internet access, printers, fax machines, photocopiers, scanners and refreshments.
Even though the entrepreneurs work independently, there’s a strong sense of community since they all specialize in the same field, says Graham.
Darren De Jean, vice-president of sales at Strategic Clean Technology Inc., says his company has been operating from The Code Factory for about 18 months.
He says one of the benefits of participating in a co-working space is the ability to connect and exchange ideas with other entrepreneurs.
“Most people here are going through the same thing you are . . . there’s a whole bunch of information transfer that takes place here that you can’t get if you’re working (in your home).”
De Jean says he thinks these co-working offices provide today’s new companies with a “great working environment.”
He says he remembers being confined to his basement when he was starting up a previous company 11 years ago.
Now with the advent of co-working spaces, there are more resources that are available to newcomers of the business world, says De Jean.
“I really use it as a place where I can scatter the desk, connect to the Internet and work away in a very quiet environment,” he says.
“I usually work out of my home office but I have two kids at home so it’s a little crazy there most days.”
De Jean says he thinks Graham’s business model will influence additional co-working spaces in Ottawa.
Scott Annan, co-founder of Startup Ottawa, an online community for local startup entrepreneurs, says he believes the growing trend towards entrepreneurialism could mean co-working spaces will replace traditional cubicle-style offices.
He points to Starbucks as an example, which he describes as being packed throughout the day with individuals typing away on their laptops.
“The ideal office space is informal,” says Annan.
“People are going to those places because they don’t like the traditional cubicle, the traditional working hours . . . so it’s almost like creating that coffee shop environment as a social working space.”
Annan says he predicts co-working spaces, perhaps catering to the architecture or business industries, will open up in the city within the next year.