SHERIDAN — Just a decade or two ago, many employees likely would have jumped at the chance to work from home. The ability to be productive while sitting in pajamas without a boss breathing down your neck beckoned.
Now, though, more people are leaving their home offices for cowork spaces, or shared office spaces where individuals from multiple businesses can engage in work. They don’t typically work for the company or on the same projects, but share space and access to things like high-speed, secure internet access, conference rooms and more.
Members of a shared workspace often pay a monthly membership fee, though each cowork space operates a little differently.
According to Forbes, in 2007, there were only 14 documented coworking spaces in the United States. Now, there are more than 11,100.
Donna and Dave Kinskey opened CoWork at the Montgomery in mid-June with flexible options for those who use the space. Membership options include a dedicated desk, open desks, a dedicated office and day passes.
Donna Kinskey said her son-in-law introduced her and her husband to the idea. The Kinskeys did some research and visited other cowork spaces before opening the downtown office in Sheridan.
Aimee Bolton is an architect for her firm Evolve Architecture LLC. She recently worked on the updates to the Sheridan Senior Center. She has a dedicated office in CoWork at the Montgomery.
Bolton said she has lived in Sheridan for about nine years and opened her own company about two years ago.
Initially, she worked from her home office as the business became established. Working from home gave her the opportunity to be home with her children and keep overhead costs down for her business.
“But I was getting to the point — I was ready,” Bolton said of her move back into an office setting. “I always worked in an office setting, for 20-plus years, so I was looking forward to having other people around me.”
Bolton said working from an office allowed her to be more productive, develop a camaraderie with the other CoWork members and leave work at work.
“At your house, you start to feel isolated,” she said. “If you’re at the house all the time, you never leave; you don’t get to interact. It’s also good to leave work at work and when you do get home, it helps you be more present. It helps separate that.”
Bolton isn’t the only one with the urge to get back into an office.
Kinskey said the trend toward CoWork spaces isn’t necessarily new, but it’s growing. She said the industry has been around for more than a decade and it stretches beyond U.S. borders.
The local cowork space has seen visitors in town for just a couple of weeks or even shorter timeframes.
Tetiana Kobzar and Alexey Shikov of the Ukraine stopped through the space over the summer. Shikov started her business in a cowork space in Ukraine, and while they were in the United States, they would drive a day then work a day, seeing the country along the way.
A steady number of members and the mix of passersby make the cowork space interesting and creates opportunities for networking that wouldn’t exist in a traditional office.
Kinskey also noted that people often report being more productive in the space. In a home office, distractions of home — laundry, chores, Netflix, for example — can keep you from getting much done for your job.
“When people are doing productive things around you, you tend to be more productive,” Kinskey said. “They put their heads down, get to work, have a few minutes of conversation and then get back to work.”
While the kind of space is new to Sheridan, according to Forbes, experts expect big growth in the cowork industry with more than 26,000 spaces hosting 3.8 million people by 2020.