LIVING GREEN for Aug. 23, 2012

For Weekly SurgeAugust 20, 2012 

Sharing work space trend comes to Myrtle Beach

How many times have you been to a coffee shop to try to work only to find that all of the plugs are occupied and the best table is next to the rowdy crowd?

Then for taking up space, you feel guilty and inclined to purchase one of those $8 coffees. So then you try to work at home and you get 15 minutes in when the doorbell rings and its your chatty neighbor wanting to tell you about their day. Then the family comes home and dinner starts cooking and televisions are turned on. You feel isolated, distracted and trapped. You have nowhere to work or study without constant noise and distraction and your creative flow has been clogged up.

You are not alone.

A solution to this typical dilemma that has been quickly spreading worldwide as more people become mobile workers with the advent of mobile technology has made its way to Myrtle Beach. This concept is called co-working, which is an environment that involves a shared working space and independent collaboration. Game designer, Bernie DeKoven of Wisconsin, originated the term “co-working” in 1999 to describe computer-supported collaborative work. In 2005, Brad Neuberg used the term to describe a physical space, such as the live-work loft site called the “Hat Factory” in San Francisco. Since then and even before, co-working has spread throughout the world.

Co-working is basically like a gym membership, according to Paul Reynolds, president of Cubic Phase Inc., who helped to start the Cowork MYR facility, which will be located on the first floor at 601 21st Avenue North in Myrtle Beach (the former BB&T building right between the First Citizens on Oak Street and the Santee Cooper Credit Union on 21st Ave.) and is presently under construction. With the membership, you can select a plan based on the hours you want to work and your credit card gets billed monthly. There is no obligation unless you seek 24-hour access to the space and a workstation just for you. Co-working spaces offer office-like amenities such as conference rooms, high-speed Internet, and secured access. According to the press release from Cubic Phase Inc, co-working also has an emphasis on collaboration and community that creates an environment that is very different than traditional shared offices. Established co-work spaces have proven themselves as hubs of creativity, innovation, and entrepreneurialism for their communities.

Co-working is a sustainable concept, perfect for our sharing economy. Not only are costs saved in overhead business charges and electric bills, but also a central location for multiple independent workers helps bring together collaborative networking to the next level. The physical space doesn’t have to be huge and several members can work at any given time. A 2011 survey found that most coworkers are in their late 20s to late 30s, with an average age of 34 years. Two-thirds are men and a little more than half are freelancers.

Going a few green steps further, Cowork MYR has commissioned a community bicycle from Red Bluff Re-Cycle Works, which was built mostly from reclaimed parts and any member can use it to ride around town. The interior design partner, Commercial Interior Solutions, has selected furniture made from recycled and sustainable materials. The idea for Cowork MYR came after hosting successful happy hour networking events for the local tech and creative community. “Independent consultants and freelancers like myself are how more and more work is getting done these days,” said Reynolds. “But working from home can be hard to manage. You start missing the opportunities that come from interacting with your peers.”

Reynolds has personally worked out of co-working spaces in California and has seen the power of being around really smart and creative people. “I felt like our area deserved to have a working space of our own and I was pretty much the only one crazy enough to try it,” said Reynolds. “I’ve been pitching and planning various approaches to opening the co-working space for over 18 months. I finally found the right partners and location that seemed to stick.”

Cowork MYR hopes to open in early September, and memberships are still available.

For more information about Cowork MYR, visit www.coworkmyr.com online or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/coworkmyr.

You can also e-mail Reynolds at paul@coworkmyr.com

Jennifer Sellers is the sustainability coordinator at Coastal Carolina University and offers her eco-views at her blog, mygreenglasses.com. Contact her at jen@mygreenglasses.com.

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