Shared offices a sign of the economic times for young entrepeneurs

Imagine sharing the office coffee pot with not just co-workers, but employees of 50 different businesses.

New King Street offices offers flexible work spaces in a 'coworking' environment

CoMotion is a new kind of office space aimed at millennials trying to make their own way in the modern workforce (Photo supplied by CoMotion)

Imagine sharing the office coffee pot with not just co-workers, but employees of 50 different businesses.

That's the plan at the CoMotion offices on King Street East, the newly-opened and largest coworking space now in southern Ontario. The floor of office space boasts 10,000 square feet for various businesses, entrepreneurs, freelancers and all kinds of different people looking for a place to work— for a day, a week, once in a while or longer term.

And it couldn't have come at a better time.

Hamilton, like many cities, is going through a major transition when it comes to the workforce and job types. More and more people are becoming entrepreneurs, freelancing or working temp jobs. 

In fact, according to a recent release from the Beareau of Labour Statistics says that "40 per cent of the workforce will be freelancers, temps, independent contractors and solopreneurs by 2020."

And the CoMotion offices are getting ahead of that curve by offering spaces for those kinds of workers.

Their current members are "all over the map," including people in social media, photographers and media consultants, says co-founder Ryan Moran said. They're even attracting smaller branches of bigger businesses.

CoMotion aims to host small-to-medium sized businesses, where people can pay one of a variety of membership packages for access to shared offices, boardrooms, desks and more all on the same floor of the old Spectator building on King Street East.

Why shared spaces?

But what motivates an entrepreneur to take his or her fledgling business out of the house and add the extra cost of a shared office space?

Apparently lots, according to studies on shared workspaces by Officevibe.com.

Some of the stats listed by the site:

  • 64 per cent of coworkers are more able to complete tasks on time
  • 90 per cent of coworkers said they felt more confident when coworking
  • 70 per cent felt healthier than they did in traditional office settings
  • 78 per cent of coworkers are under 40 years old

"A lot of it comes down to productivity and focus," Moran said. "And there's a certain comfort there."

The last statistic was a particular motivator for Moran and his partners, all millennials who can empathize with the current work climate.

"(Our partners) have all, at one time, been entrepreneurs."

Hamilton's precarious job situation

Hamilton's workers have been seeing the effects of this transition.

An earlier story in June by CBC News reported on the "precarious work" situation in Hamilton, where nearly 60 per cent of Hamilton workers lack job security, benefits or regular scheduling.

The CoMotion Offices, a service that provides members with shared work spaces for small-to-medium businesses, has opened on the third floor of the former Hamilton Spectator building at 115 King Street. (CoMotion/Faceboook)

The report came from a study done by McMaster University, which stated, "Workers in less secure employment, regardless of their household income, are twice as likely to report that uncertainty over work schedules has a negative effect on family life."

That's one aspect, among many, that the CoMotion offices hope to change in Hamilton.

"They're really excited. They like it a lot," said co-founder Ryan Moran of the office's new tenants.

"I haven't really heard anything negative from them so far."

Community's Response

Moran said the community's response to the coworking space has been "increasingly growing" since the launch party back in July.

Going into that day, they were at 25 per cent capacity, he said. After the Sept. 1 opening, they were sitting at over 40 per cent.

Moran said he and his partners looked at Hamilton and saw the city's lack of corporate office buildings as an opportunity for shared workspaces.

"In Hamilton, you'll find economically there's not a lot of attraction of headquarters like in Toronto," he said.

"Here there's actually much more of a motivation to start your own business."

As for prices, membership costs can range from $500 for a private office to $100 for a "commons membership," where you can enjoy the space but don't have your own desk or office.

But all members can still enjoy the coffee.


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