Coworking movement takes hold in Evergreen

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Work-at-home employees seek shared space

By Beth Potter

Evergreen resident Jack Holbrook had a typical work-from-home job — he talked with customers on the phone and worked on his computer for his job at the Electrical Construction Co. in Hawaii.

The problem was, Holbrook didn’t really like working from his home. He went from working at a busy office in Hawaii to working at home in Evergreen, and he wanted to interact with co-workers. He also wanted to be able to meet with people and socialize after work.

Holbrook apparently is not alone.

Nationally, about 7 percent of people worked from home at least one day per week in 2010, according to U.S. Census Bureau statistics. While statistics are hard to come by in Evergreen, anecdotally, Holbrook said he knows more people who work from home than work from an office, including three of five neighbors.

Holbrook recently met Evergreen resident and Web developer Dave Cadwallader at an Evergreen Lake Summer Concert Series event, and the two started discussing how to create a “coworking” community in Evergreen. 

In general, coworking spaces are offices for individuals in high-tech fields who work independently rather than in a company office. The coworking concept has become popular in certain areas of the United States in the last couple of years — including in places like Denver and Boulder.

Cadwallader created a website, www.evergreencoworking.com, to see how many people might want to join a coworking community in the region. In the past week or so, 16 people have signed up, mostly to find out about his vision.

In the meantime, Cadwallader and Holbrook rented office space at 27902 Meadow Drive in Evergreen with Realtor Doug Pike. Pike has not been involved in the coworking discussion so far, Cadwallader said.

Even with the new office space, Cadwallader is still on the hunt — both for a space that might feel more collaborative to users and one that might lend itself more to a sense of community for workers who work independently. Coworking areas often are open, warehouse-style spaces with shared kitchens and conference rooms.

Next on the agenda for Cadwallader is to hold a meeting for people who signed up so everyone can discuss what they might want in the coworking space. 

In the future, the group may set up a crowd-funding campaign at www.kickstarter.com as well, Cadwallader said. Crowd-funding is a relatively new concept in which a business or individual can raise money online from supporters. Kickstarter funds could be used to buy things like furniture and computers in a possible new coworking space. Coworking members would put money into the project and could potentially get their money back if they didn’t need or want the space, according to information on the website.

“In terms of Evergreen, I’m thinking it’s independent individuals who are feeling isolated and craving community,” Cadwallader said. “We’re looking for all ideas on whatever people want to say.”

High-speed Internet is one issue that independent workers in Evergreen complain about, Cadwallader and others have said. Cadwallader expects that whatever coworking space the group decides on, it will have better and potentially faster Internet connections than he has at home.

“Coworking is so much more than sharing real estate. It’s about building a community and a collaborative open, shared space,” Cadwallader said.