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By Drew Truitt
Associate Editor 

Trendy Area Coworking Venues: A Place to Work, Make Connections and Lower Overhead

 

Last updated 8/27/2019 at 4:33pm

Drew Truitt

The Lodge projects manager Meghan D. Young shows off the comfort and cleanliness of their coworking space

THE LODGE, Winter Haven

"Right now we have two levels of office space-private office, and there's 10 of those-or you're a general coworker, and you can use any of the common areas that aren't being used at the time," relates Meghan D. Young, special projects manager with SixTen LLC, the real estate developer who has recently opened The Lodge, http://www.thelodgewinterhaven.com, at the former Elks Lodge site, hence the name, to join the many new coworking businesses cropping up in communities large and small around Florida and the U.S.

Sharing the structure with a business advertising agency Black Oak Creative, The Lodge is a one-story modern, cutting edge collective that provides "a more flexible workspace for remote workers," says Young.

"I like working here, too. My office is a few blocks from here, but sometimes I'll come down here for a change of scenery and it's nice and quiet," adds Young.

The concept of coworking, or office sharing, originated in San Francisco in 2005 by Brad Neuberg, but the power of coworking was first documented as far back as 1628.

After nearly 15 years since its California revival the reason the arrangement has continued to expand exponentially is because the concept is working, especially for small businesses which account for over 95% of total. Many large companies began to experiment with the concept for their own workers, but from 2010 to 2013 the number of coworking facilities jumped from 600 worldwide to over 3,000, and that number is growing most of whom have one or two locations.

Young says that "technology and connectivity have changed the way people can and want to work. People recognize the value that comes from getting out of the home office and being part of a community where they can interact with and learn from others," states Meghan.

"That's the need that we're trying to fill with The Lodge, our new coworking space in downtown Winter Haven," adds Young. "Appealing to many different types of workers-free lancers, startup entrepreneurs, or creatives-the space allows them to be productive and successful at a price that's affordable," says Young.

Ultimately the benefits derived from having a physical address, place to go for

work or to meet with customers and prospects, and simply getting out of the house and taking a business to the next level are determined by the member. Coworker environments are becoming more popular and locations are springing up literally everywhere, and the primary reason is supply and demand are growing simultaneously. Office leases can be expensive for small companies. On the supply side, real estate owners see the value in taking vacant, not fully productive or difficult to lease properties and make them income producing by marketing shared space to multiple tenants in a coworking collective layout.

Businesses like Lakeland's My Office & More and Catapult Lakeland have been in business longer and are in a larger population to draw members from, and they have a coworking track record.

Winter Haven's The Lodge, and Lake Wales' Park Avenue Executive Suites will be the testing the popular concept in smaller communities, and they will be noting what attracts and inspires new memberships in their office sharing enterprises to build on.

Young relates, "Right now we have two workers [who work] remotely for companies out of state, two realtors, a mortgage company, a self-employed business owner, and two people who work for a church so it is an interesting mix."

"There's more options now for work than there ever have been, and at the same time, people recognize the value that comes from getting out of the home office and being part of a community where they can interact with and learn from others."

Meghan will gladly brew up a cup of coffee (always free to members), and show you around by scheduling an appointment. The Lodge is located at 375 Ave. A SE in downtown Winter Haven. The phone number is 863-354-5017.

MY OFFICE & MORE, Lakeland

In 2015 when Kate Lake opened her coworking business, My Office & More, she was exiting a rollercoaster career in the corporate world. Today as she enjoys the many advantages of being her own boss she also provides a place for others to grow, prosper and prospect.

"From an idea I planted a seed and now I can live and work in my own community," says Lake.

Coworking locations in many cities for business people like hers are a growth industry fueled by a group of forward thinking people who realize that by reducing overhead they put money back in their own pockets.

According to her website, http://www.myofficeandmore.com, "Kate's vision is to have a place where entrepreneurs, freelancers, road warriors, remote employees, and small businesses can benefit from having the same types of business tools and productive atmosphere as larger companies without making large capital commitments."

You can tell that Kate has found her passion from the excitement and enthusiasm in her voice. As a business owner she now controls the use of her time after many years of answering to others and having been required to be on someone else's schedule. But her background of working at high level/high stress jobs has provided her with the experience and knowledge to share with others seeking independence to do their thing without the stress of paying high rents and/or utility bills.

"Everything is virtual today. Businesses that have a physical presence give the consumer confidence they are real," says Lake. "And through the sharing of resources they can do it less expensively."

Drew Truitt

Meghan D. Young, Special Projects Manager for SixTen LLC, discusses their coworking venue, The Lodge, recently opened in downtown Winter Haven.

Lake's website highlights a dozen benefits gained through joining her coworking platform, the last of which states: "I need a business mailing address."

Top on the list is "I need to be connected with others." The next benefit is the obvious "I need a place to work."

Others are "I need a professional place to meet with customers and vendors;" "I need to increase my productivity;" and my personal favorite, "I need a place without the distractions of home."

Lake's business model has been singled out in many area publications including the Business Observer, The Lakeland Ledger and Tampa Bay Business Journal. In the Business Observer, Lake was quoted as saying "Find out what makes you passionate. You have to study yourself."

There's no better place to achieve both personal and commercial success than My Office & More located at 122 E. Main St. in downtown Lakeland. The phone number is 863-333-5120.

 

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