Downtown co-working trend moves to south Edmonton

Remote workers and small business owners can pay to use the desks, private offices and meeting rooms in a new shared workspace in south Edmonton.

A Beaumont couple created a shared workspace in Summerside for remote workers

URBN Cowork is a new co-working space in south Edmonton. Remote workers and small business owners can pay to use the desks, private offices and meeting rooms in the workspace. (URBN Coworking)

Libraries, coffee shops or home offices — small business owners often work in unconventional settings.

While they seem like a glamorous part of the entrepreneurial lifestyle, those public workspaces have their limitations. Many entrepreneurs have turned to co-working offices as an alternative place to do business. 

A Beaumont couple has found success by jumping onto this trend.

After launching URBN Cowork in Sherwood Park last year, Heather Quist and her husband opened a second location in south Edmonton at the beginning of January.

"We knew there was a large small-business base in Edmonton," Quist told CBC's Edmonton AM. "There's lots of entrepreneurs out there, you know, working out of coffee shops … and wanting to grow their business to the next level, but don't necessarily have the space to do so."

The city's newest co-working space at 22nd Avenue and 90th Street features dedicated work desks, private offices, meeting rooms and mailing and printing services. The amenities can help remote workers increase their productivity by avoiding the distractions of public places, Quist said.

Freelancers and people who are self-employed can pay a daily, weekly or monthly fee to use the space, which is open to members 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

"Instead of taking on a long-term office lease right out of starting up, they can come to us and they can pay month to month," Quist said.

Co-working spaces are offices that small business owners can rent. (URBN Coworking)

A collaborative community

Entrepreneurs can meet clients and collaborate with other business owners in co-working spaces, Quist said.

These types of offices exist downtown, but Quist said there was a need for a flexible and affordable business space south of the city's centre.

"There's a lot of homes being built on the south side and there isn't as much space for small businesses to grow," she said. "So we wanted to build a community down there."

You're an entrepreneur. You're by yourself, but the actual environment means you're not alone.- Heather Quist, URBN Cowork owner

The community is comprised of people who work for themselves, but not by themselves.

"You're an entrepreneur," she said. "You're by yourself, but the actual environment means you're not alone."

Quist said members develop "water-cooler" friendship with other professionals in the shared space, which is home to artists, teachers, lawyers and other professionals. She said many members share their skills among each other.

The first URBN Cowork location opened at 150 Chippewa Road in Sherwood Park in May 2017. With 15 to 20 people working there every day, Quist said there's a demand for these types of spaces.

She hopes to expand the business across Alberta as the trend grows.

URBN Cowork owner Heather Quist says there's a demand for co-working spaces in south Edmonton. (URBN Coworking)

Listen to Edmonton AM with host Mark Connolly, weekday mornings at CBC Radio One, 93.9 FM in Edmonton. Follow the morning crew on Twitter @EdmAMCBC.