Shared workspaces are cheaper than a traditional office and offer a chance to interact with like-minded individuals, potential customers and even investors. These advantages drove a 16% rise in the number of co-working spaces in the U.S. last year and a 36% increase around the world.

Below, a guide to five niche Canadian co-working options.

The Workaround
Amanda Munday had two kids and a job in the tech sector. She struggled to find a co-working space that catered to working parents as well as affordable and flexible childcare options. So she founded the Workaround, a shared workspace with breastfeeding suites and childcare.

Located in Toronto, Munday says The Workaround solves a number of problems for working parents, particularly mothers. “Women really have these feelings of being torn between leaving their job and staying at home to care for their kids,” she said. “The Workaround is able to keep women in the workforce while also keeping their children in good care.”

The space is increasingly popular. Since its opening back in Oct. 2018, more than 300 members have used it; more than half are now paying monthly members. 

Make Lemonade
Make Lemonade founder Rachel Kelly used to freelance out of coffee shops, but missed the sense of community that came with a traditional office setting. Feeling dissatisfied with the other co-working spaces she had frequented across the city, Kelly decided to open up her own space. “There was something else that I needed and wasn’t able to find it in the city, so I decided to create it.”

After opening in 2017, Kelly says progression was a slow in attracting a steady membership, but in the months since building the space and sharpening their marketing strategies, she says the space’s membership has grown to include just under 200 monthly members. Putting an emphasis on the community aspect has also been a big motivator in attracting more members. 

The Hive
Located in Vancouver, The Hive is a non-profit for socially conscious business owners. The space was founded by Eesmyal Santos-Brault and Jeremy Murphy, business owners working in the energy and sustainability sectors who wanted to house their companies in something other than a conventional office setting. After a series of volunteer-led renovations and paint jobs, The Hive came to exist.

“If you think you belong at The Hive, you probably do,” says Melissa Hope, director of operations at The Hive. “The people here want to make the world a better place.”

Since its opening back in May 2011, the facility has gained around 200 paid members representing more than 150 different companies. Hope says they’re focused on “providing the best community we can” for their members. 

The Fold
Opened in 2015, The Fold caters to the needs of interior designers, architects and landscapers in Toronto. Co-founders Vanessa Fong, an architect, and Ryan Taylor, also in the design industry, identified this gap in the co-working market. 

Creating a space that is accommodating for design-focused entrepreneurs has involved careful planning. Taylor said they’ve invested in custom-made desks with large square footage. They also offer ample storage space for  wood samples, tiles, windows, and paint chips designers use as samples for their clients. Another feature differentiating the space from competitors are the high-end, quiet and professional areas available for meeting with clients. They provide an alternative to the “hustle and bustle” of other co-working options, Taylor says.

While it took about a year to grow its membership, it’s been filled to its 16-member capacity for the past two years. 

The Amp
The Amp’s membership consists primarily of social enterprises and non-profit organizations. The members are working towards “the greater good” as the space’s community manager, Anna Collingridge, describes it. Although not all of the 90 or so permanent and part-time members using the space are social enterprises and non-profits, Collingridge says that around 90% of its membership base is. Those that aren’t still share the space’s vision of creating positive change, and addressing some of the economic, social and environmental problems in Vancouver.

Unlike other shared workspaces, The Amp doesn’t have any hot desks for outsiders to drop in. Its permanent desks for members are designed to foster a sense of community among the “change-makers” that frequent the space. And with the facility currently packed at 90% capacity, they’ve managed to create that close-knit sense of community. Collingridge says. The Amp doesn’t yet have the capital it needs to expand and grow into a bigger space but hopes to in future. 

Source: Canadian Business