Meet Your New Co-Worker
Group Work Spaces Pop Up
Southport’s B:Hive work spaces, which overlook Sasco Brook, offer an alternative to home offices.
According to a 2017 Gallup Poll, 43 percent of employed Americans work remotely at least some of the time. Not only has this percentage increased each year, the amount of time spent working remotely has also increased. Distractions, isolation, and unreliable Wi-Fi are just some of the reasons professionals have sought space outside the home in which to work. If Starbucks or Panera are not your idea of a productive work environment, enter the era of shared “coworking spaces.”
Walk through the door at B:Hive, and you feel transported to the type of cool, modern office that only seems to exist in movies or the Silicon Valley. The space is the brainchild of two couples, Luke Scott and Marcella Kovac, plus Madeline Rhodes and Jordan Rabidou, all of whom come with marketing and design backgrounds. “We wanted to create a place that facilitates a sense of community,” says Scott. In 2013, after acquiring the 2000 square foot space in Bridgeport’s Bijou Square, they set out to create a modern, functional workspace for “solopreneurs” in all industries, including writers, accountants, artists, and consultants.
The original Bridgeport location was outfitted with both “flex space” consisting of open workspaces members use for the day, or even by the hour, and also several dedicated desks reserved by the same people each day. There is also a conference room completely wired with all the tech needed for multimedia presentations.
When demand increased, the foursome began looking to expand. In January, B:Hive is moving to the larger, renovated Mechanics and Farmers Bank building in downtown Bridgeport. Located one block from train, ferry, and bus transportation, both commuting and client meetings will be a breeze. The art-deco space will have a “vintage corporate sophistication” while also feeling urban and fresh. “We are fashion forward, design friendly,” Scott explains. In addition, a new Southport location just opened in the Old Mill Building next to Shake Shack. Adding more dedicated desks, more flex space, and more conference rooms, this location overlooks the bucolic falls of Sasco Brook.
For solopreneurs on a tight budget, the Office Labs at Hotel Hi-Ho offers the opportunity for free weekly coworking. Every Wednesday, the completely renovated second floor lobby is available from 11 am to 6 pm to both hotel guests and travelers alike. “We really wanted Hotel Hi-Ho to be seen as a welcoming, community-oriented space,” says Hi-Ho General Manager, Rick Emery. “Our lounge is great, but it didn’t have much traffic after the complimentary daily breakfast, so we created Office Lab at Hotel Hi-Ho to offer a creative space to work, relax, recharge, and of course, network.” Another bonus—rotating artwork from local artists adorn the walls, and Shearwater coffee is brewed throughout the day to keep everyone on-pointe. For those needing to host a meeting, the hotel’s sister Fairfield property, The Circle Hotel has tech-savvy meeting rooms available for a fee, which can accommodate 20 to 50 people.
If coworking is not your cup of tea, look no further than the Fairfield Public Library. “Since the library was built, we have always offered meeting spaces, says Town Librarian, Helene Murtha. Both the Main Library and the Fairfield Woods Branch have “study rooms” available to reserve at no cost, for up to two hours per day. The Main Library has five private study rooms accommodating from one to twelve people. All have whiteboards and markers, and one of the larger rooms, called “ShareSpace” also has a flat screen, four keyboards, and mice all attached to a PC computer. At the Branch Library there are an additional three study rooms. Reservations for the study rooms are done online and can be reserved up to seven days in advance. For larger meetings ranging from 15 to 125 people, there are six large meeting rooms booked by reservation.
“It can be isolating at home,” says Luke Scott. “Co-working provides the next step toward growth because you’re working with others.”
BETTER TOGETHER Fairfield Emerging Leaders Organization (FELO) is a professional group within the Chamber of Commerce. FELO provides opportunities for professionals to connect and enhance skills. fairfieldctchamber.com/felo