In the wake of the global economic troubles of the past few years, various alternative thoughts centered around collaboration and sharing have sprung up around the world. These movements loosely coalesce under umbrella monikers such as “collaborative consumption” and “the sharing economy,” and they run the gamut to include tool libraries, hackerspaces, community gardens, local currencies, clothing swaps, free schools and more. One of the most prolific new models is that of the co-working space — an office environment shared by independent workers. Co-workers in any given space get the advantages of frills such as printers, copiers, conference rooms and the like without the disadvantages of financing and managing that sort of overhead.
Earlier this year, Josh Addison jumped on the co-working bandwagon with Connect Ventura. He had a building on West Main Street that “needed human energy to move it in the right direction. Space goes derelict fast, and the best antidote is positive human experience in the space.” So he set up the city’s first co-working space, then started renting desks and offices. While there were some takers, the building provided more square footage than the coworkers needed. Addison noted, “There were two possibilities: The co-working project could grow to fill the space — a big ask — or it could find its footing there and settle somewhere else, if the space proved too large for the project, as has been the case.”
When Patagonia came knocking at Addison’s door wanting to lease the whole space long-term, Connect Ventura stayed light on its feet and found a new home at the WAV through the efforts of Katrina Maksimuk. Like minds make for great company, and Maksimuk aims to have what she calls her “dream team” come together organically through Connect Ventura — and it seems to be happening. Having only opened its new doors recently, the scaled-down Connect Ventura already boasts a wide variety of workers pulling up chairs to the shared desks, including graphic designers, web developers, entrepreneurs, artists, writers and programmers.
Connect Ventura isn’t the first co-working experience for Jordan Thomas, a computer programmer with Everyvine.com. He previously logged some time at Davis Co-working in Davis, Calif., so he understands well the merits of the model. Thomas explained that, not only is renting a co-working desk less expensive, but “shared workspace introduces me to new potential clients, subcontractors and friends. Often, talking about a problem I’m stuck on helps me see it from a new angle, so it’s nice to have people around I can chat with. Many of the co-workers I have met have encountered the same kinds of work problems I have, things that come up when you work for yourself, work remotely, manage clients, etc. I used to feel like I was the only one who had those kinds of problems.”
What the future holds for Connect Ventura is still uncertain but, as Addison observed, “The beauty of co-working is that the people who choose to be part of creating the shared experience get to help shape that vision. At its core, co-working is about people having the opportunity, in a shared space, to grow creatively together, to work on their own but not alone. It’s definitely not a top-down deal, but rather very horizontal, with expanding horizons!”
Connect Ventura is located at 175 S. Ventura Ave, suite 103A, 253-8333. For more information, visit www.connectventura.com.