Working at home can be great, until a client shows up and the kids are yelling or the dog wants to go for a walk – now.
It is a common complaint in Squamish: the lack of meeting space, not just for work-from-home entrepreneurs, but also for members of charity boards, organizations and businesses without a brick-and-mortar facility, as well as academics and freelancers.
Coffee shops offer no privacy and are not geared to help people focus on work.
Two local women have come up with what they say is a solution to this predicament — the Aligned Collective. Squamish municipal Coun. Susan Chapelle and urban strategist Zanny Venner are opening the community co-working space.
“You have a mixture of academia and city builders and urbanists, as well as startups, entrepreneurs, and small to medium-sized businesses being in one space together,” said Chapelle.
The more than 3,000-square-foot, not-for-profit collective will open at the end of October at 201-38085 Second Ave. in Squamish’s downtown core.
The space will include dedicated private offices for small to medium-sized businesses, co-working workstations and a community hub where regional municipalities, companies, not-for-profits and others can rent space for gatherings, events or workshops. Some desks will be available for day rentals and others will be longer-term dedicated desks for a monthly fee.
“When there is no space for people to gather and connect then we are going to continue to work in our silos,” said Venner. “There’s a continuing emphasis on single-family townhomes being built, but I think that is going to contribute to the bedroom community of what Squamish is… This is just one space that will hopefully prove to government and the community itself that we are actually stronger when we are working together.”
Chapelle said the opportunities for experts in their field – of which there are many in Squamish – to teach health care initiatives in the space is central to the plan. Chapelle, who is also a registered massage therapist and academic researcher, said she was recently teaching a class to students in Argentina by Skype from her basement and was interrupted by her children twice. A more professional space could serve others like her, she said.
The space also addresses the issue of how a municipality can create a healthier community for its citizens through collaboration. Without such a space, collaboration is limited, according to Chapelle.
“How do we create a space for urbanists and health care providers to figure out better policy and better ways to integrate health care with urban policy and planning?” she asked. “There’s nothing available in our community currently that offers good technology, [such as wifi]. When I bring people to the community, I want it to be a nice space.”
Chapelle said she is putting her own capital into launching the collective.
Any profits will go into future community and economic development projects, she said.
Similar spaces have been launched in communities around North America. Chapelle visited co-working spaces in Vancouver, Victoria, Montreal and Quebec City for ideas and inspiration.
For more on Aligned Collective, go to their Facebook page.