EAGLE — Faced with the challenges of operating her freelance marketing business, Taylor Slaugh of Eagle ultimately decided she needed to get out of her house every now and then.
She didn’t need an office, just a desk located in a professional setting with access to a conference room and other business basics such as internet and a printer.
“It was more about needing the human interaction and missing working around other people,” she said. “Then one day I stumbled across an article on coworking and I said ‘Bingo — that’s what we need in Eagle.’”
Slaugh’s discovery is something that’s happening all over the country. Coworking provides an office space that various independent workers, usually not employed by the same organization, share. The concept has become popular among to work-at-home professionals, independent contractors and basically anyone who ends up working in relative isolation.
From her former position as administrator for the Eagle Chamber, Slaugh knew there were a lot of people like her in the community — lone eagles who could benefit from a coworking option. She presented the idea to Eagle Chamber President Mike Daly, who agreed that she was on to something.
“We needed to find someone with the vision who could provide the space,” said Daly. Luckily, the chamber didn’t have to look too far.
P.J. Berg of Roadhouse Hospitality is an active chamber member and she was intimately familiar with some local vacant office space. Roadhouse is the parent company of The Dusty Boot in Eagle, and for a few months now, the second story of the Eagle Ranch restaurant building has been looking for a tenant. She brought the idea to owner John Shipp, who gradually warmed up to the concept. From there, Eagle’s Simpati Coworking was born.
Berg noted that while there was finished space on the second floor of the Dusty Boot building, the environment needed some TLC before it was ready for coworking client.
“There was office space, but it didn’t have life or a heartbeat to it,” she said. “We put paint and pictures up and spruced up the space a lot.”
In his research of successful coworking offices, Daly said the participants want vibrant and flexible options for their professional space. The Simpati Coworking has addressed this issue with various service/pricing options and premium shared space.
The Simpati Coworking model offers a three tiered option — settlers, pioneers and nomads. Settlers rent private office space in the larger work environment. The monthly office rent starts at $575, with additional costs for larger, premium offices. Settlers pay $325 to rent a designated desk space in the Simpati Coworking office. Nomads pay $150 per month to set up shop at any vacant desk in the office.
In addition to the space, Simpati Coworking provides wifi service and other amenities including access to a conference room equipped with a 55-inch television set up for presentations, a shared office kitchen and printing/copying/scanning services.
“I am totally psyched that it happened as quickly as it did,” said Slaugh. She rents as a nomad and she loves having the option of using the conference room when meeting with new clients. Slaugh said the inviting environment at Simpati Coworking helps project a professional image for her business.
“Plus it can be an incubator for a new business. As your business grows, you can go from a desk to an office or even to your own office space somewhere else,” said Slaugh.
But Berg noted that the biggest benefit users find in the coworking environment isn’t the space but rather the atmosphere.
Work based collaboration
Berg noted that people participating in coworking report up to a 50 percent increase in productivity.
“Working at home is distracting,” she said. “We think of this as a place where you can go to get away from the interruptions.”
Sharing an office space also gives workers a sense of collaboration that can be lost when they work in the isolation of their homes, she said.
“Coworking is about more than just the space,” said Daly. “This really is going to improve small business vitality in Eagle.”
While the concept is new, its positive initial reception has the Roadhouse Hospitality group looking to expand on the model. Berg said the seven office spaces currently available have all been booked and planning is already well under way for phase two of Simpati Coworking. The operation is expanding into the currently unfinished space in the Dusty Boot building and will bring on additional offices and desks for prospective coworkers.
As the operation continues to attract clients and eyes expansion, Berg noted the office name is a play on the Italian definition of “simpatico.” She said in Italian, the word means to come together and that’s a fitting description of what is happening at Simpati Coworking.
“It’s a really cool atmosphere and people have said they get so much more accomplished while they are here,” she said.
To learn more about Simpati Coworking, contact Berg at 970-328-0144.
For downvalley humans, it’s pretty cool when elk decide to hunker down around Eagle for the winter. For the elk, it’s more of a lesser-of-two-evils situation.