St. Paul co-working spaces catch on as employees head back to offices
As employees begin to head into the office again, some companies and entrepreneurs are rethinking the traditional work model as industries branch out beyond the fluorescent lights.
During the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, employees and business owners were working from home out of necessity. Now it seems workers and employers are opting for a more flexible work environment, turning to co-working spaces for day-to-day operations.
Thomson Reuters, a global publishing and media firm, proved the industry is shifting when it announced last month that it will sell most of its Eagan campus and look to relocate more than 4,000 employees after a survey revealed workers would rather take part in the hybrid work model, splitting their time between the office and home. The publishing firm’s goal is to create an energized work environment to align with hybrid working and attract top talent, said Paul Fischer, president of legal professionals for Thomson Reuters and co-site lead for the company’s Minneapolis-St. Paul campus, in an email.
“Not everyone will need a desk five days a week,” said Emma Burns, director of operations for St. Paul Downtown Alliance. “In general, people are rethinking how they work differently and it may be possible that more people take jobs that are remote,” she said.
Workers in St. Paul are taking advantage of co-working spaces like Wellworth and The Coven that offer community and a distraction-free workplace for employees that are a far cry from office-style cubicles.
The audience for co-working spaces is diverse, said Alex Steinman, co-founder of The Coven, in downtown St. Paul at 165 Western Ave. N. “Our members are freelancers, entrepreneurs and self-identified side-hustlers,” she said, noting that half of The Coven’s membership is self-employed.
In some cases, companies with satellite offices will pay membership fees for their employees to work from a co-working space, said Jamie Rissi, operations manager at Wellworth. “They want their employees to meet up in a space that isn’t someone’s living room,” said Rissi.
Wellworth, in downtown St. Paul at 428 Minnesota St., spans 7,500 square feet and offers different levels of membership depending on what a worker is looking for, said Rissi. There are part-time memberships, dedicated desks, or private offices to choose from.
Burns, who has been a member at Wellworth since 2018, said although she is an introvert, she loves working out of a co-working space because of the community it offers. “They’re not my coworkers,” she said, “but I see them every day, we bounce ideas off of each other, and I am able to get real-time feedback.”
In addition to collaborative work environments, co-working spaces can offer amenities for their members. At Wellworth, members have access to a gym in the neighboring building as well as conference rooms and printing and office supplies, Rissi said, noting that the manager of the facility is also a notary.
At The Coven, Steinman said leadership development programs are available that allow members to learn from experts in their field and carry out actionable steps. The Coven also has a digital platform that allows teams to work together, which Steinman said gained a lot of interest during the early months of the pandemic.
Co-working spaces have become so popular that The Coven is working on franchising and expanding to “underdog markets,” Steinman said. Currently The Coven is the only co-working space to offer locations in both Minneapolis and St. Paul, said Steinman.
One of the best parts about working in a space with folks outside of your company is the variety in community, Rissi said. “It doesn’t matter where you’re at in your business or career, in a co-working space, someone has been there and can tell you what their experience was.”