Co-working on the rise in Ottawa

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Tom Pechloff
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The ninth annual International Co-working Day falls on Saturday, and while Saturday may not seem a typical workday, it is reflective of the co-working environment, said HUB Ottawa managing director David Fleming.

David Fleming, Managing Director, HUB Ottawa

HUB Ottawa, however, and many other co-working spaces will be closed Saturday.

“When we originally opened, we were open on Saturdays and I think a future version of HUB would be more of a 24/7 because one of the things we recognize, especially with co-working is a significant amount of what happens through a place like this isn’t necessarily 9 to 5,” said Mr. Fleming.

Another thing that can easily be recognized is the growth of the co-working phenomenon. Mr. Fleming said HUB Ottawa had around 180 members last year and are now at 300.

Mr. Fleming said the success of co-working environments can be traced back to the beginnings of society.

“In isolation, we are not as powerful as we are in groups,” he said.

Around the city, there are a number of other organizations offering space and office services, ranging from small startups to international companies.

Regus started in Belgium back in 1989 when its founder, British businessman Mark Dixon, was sitting in a coffee shop, realizing how much business was being done there because people clearly didn’t have any other space to do it.

Fast forward 25 years and Regus has 1,800 offices in 100 countries around the world, including two offices in Ottawa. Regus takes up two floors at the Chateau Laurier where it has been for about five years. It’s second location, on Preston Street, has been open for about a year.

Barry Weighell is one of the original partners in the Canadian arm of the business, launched 14 years ago, and is now VP of operations.

He said the Chateau Laurier location has been at capacity a few times over the years and the Preston Street client base continues to grow.

Mr. Weighell said Regus hopes to eventually have three to five locations in the city.

Regus had its doors open all week so prospective clients could see the benefits of the co-working environment, as well as the business services it offers.

Mr. Fleming said there are similarities between an organization like HUB Ottawa and Regus. But the main difference, he says, is that while Regus will maintain your office needs and provide office services, HUB Ottawa is working on maintaining the community.

Still, Mr. Weighell says you can get a community within the Regus space too.

“It’s a huge opportunity for networking and like-minded businesses to work in the same area to share and grow and develop their own businesses that way,” he said.

He said Regus can offer its clients a global network larger than anyone else, although the HUB is growing internationally.

Mr. Fleming said another difference is HUB Ottawa wasn’t really created because there was a need for more co-working space in the city.

“It’s more around the idea of a community of folks that are working on creating more efficient social good,” he said.

Just down Bank Street from HUB Ottawa is @the space, a startup company that is looking to help other startups on their road to success.

Co-owner Blair Kilrea said there are a lot of co-working spaces in the city and they all offer different things to different clients so he doesn’t really see the other facilities as competitors.

Mr. Kilrea said @the space and HUB Ottawa have a good working relationship and regular refer clients to each other depending on their needs.

He said @the space differs from HUB Ottawa because it offers more business services, which puts it more in line with Regus, although cheaper because as Mr. Kilrea said, startups don’t have any money, but they still need the space.

“We kind of act like a transition,” he said. “People that normally work from home would be a member here. Once they step up, and get bigger, they can continue to work here, or they may move into an actual brick and mortar office of their own or they may go into a place like Regus or somewhere else.”

@the space launched in March and has 25 clients but Mr. Kilrea said the future is bright. He said his company is also working on a 24/7 model and is hoping to expand to Kanata, Orleans and Barrhaven in the future.

Organizations: Regus

Geographic location: Ottawa, Preston Street, Belgium Kanata

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