In the age of Airbnb and Uber, people are sharing their homes, their cars, and now they’re sharing workspaces. Chicago has seen a boom in “coworking spaces” due to the rapidly growing rate of remote workers, creative professionals, startups, and people who can work from anyplace with a solid WiFi signal.
Coworking spaces provide a solution to the isolation and distraction of working from home, offer an escape from fighting for a table at Starbucks, and are more affordable than renting your own office. Additionally, coworking spaces are known to be breeding grounds for cross-industry collaboration and networking that happens naturally due to daily interaction with other professionals.
Yet coworking is not a one-size-fits-all industry. Coworking spaces, like neighborhoods in Chicago, each have their own unique personality, environment, services, and amenities. A space’s ownership, location, and partnerships can also play a role in its offerings to members, and many are actively involved in their local communities.
For the Creative
2112 (4245 N. Knox Avenue., Chicago, IL 60641)
Located within the 140,000 sq ft B2B creative industry ecosystem of Fort Knox Studios, 2112 is Chicago’s first incubator focused on the development of entrepreneurs and disruption in music, film/video and creative technology.
Perfect For: Creatives that work in or support the industries of music, film/video, sports, interactive, and entertainment focused technology.
Environment: Although there are 92 band rehearsal rooms on-site, there are no jam sessions happening in the coworking portion of this music mecca. The workspace at 2112 is quiet, yet the space is bright and colorful with a mix of individual desks, group worktables, and cozy lounge chairs to choose from. With artwork and murals relating to music and film, you may be working on a computer but you’ll be pleasantly aware of 2112’s creative mission to support and develop the next generation of Chicago’s artists.
Unique Services: The 2112 event calendar is plentiful and consistently packed with educational programming to help you plan and navigate a career in the creative fields. They also offer ongoing professional development to help existing business owners improve on fundamentals like sales, social media, and product pitching. On top of all of these offerings, they rock an all-star cast of industry experts for their Mentor Hours – allowing you to get one-on-one advice from attorneys, creative directors, management consultants, recording artists, and so many more.
Unique Amenities: 2112 is surrounded by Fort Knox Studios, equipped with a jaw-dropping 92 band rehearsal rooms, 6 recording studios, 3 live sound production companies, a stagehand school, a 7,200 sq. ft. film/video production facility, and instrument and amp repair.
Notable partnerships: 2112 members enjoy reciprocity with Stage18, a film-focused incubator at Cinespace Chicago Film Studios. Upcoming collaborations in 2017 include an Immersive Tech Summit in partnership with French Innovation Week, conference collaboration with CIMMFest, LakeFX, and the Cutting Edge Music Business Conference, multiple programs with local universities, and a showcase with IMX for Taste of Iceland/Reykjavic Calling.
Collaboration: In conjunction with The People’s Music School, 2112 hosted Music Hack 2016, an open invitation for Chicago’s brightest minds to dream and build music tech that takes music education to the next level with judges from Carnegie Hall, Spotify, Northwestern Interactive Audio Lab, and more.
Ownership: 2112 was launched by Scott Fetters and Fort Knox Studios owners Dan Mahoney and Kent Nielsen. The goal was to create a hub for Chicago’s creative industries and provide fertile ground for the growth of member companies. The team now includes Rob Tovar (Director of Operations), Amor Montes de Oca (Director of Strategic Initiatives), and Alex Restrepo (Member Engagement Manager).
“2112 is an accelerated mad-pinball-collision kind of a place – the difference between sitting alone and anxious in your own space or colliding with a supportive trampoline of diverse, interested, and interesting motivated people. It’s not the square feet of real estate (although that’s huge and glorious), it’s the square inches of heart & imagination that is the selling point here. Collaboration is king! I love it here.” – Martin Atkins, Renowned Music Industry Leader, Musician, Producer, Record Label Owner, Author, Drummer (Public Image LTD, Ministry, Pigface, Nine Inch Nails)
For more information visit: www.2112inc.com
Coworking starting at: $70/month | 2112 is also available on Deskpass
For the Working Parent
Take A Break Playcare (2855 N. Lincoln Ave., Chicago, IL 60657)
A playcare facility that also offers a coworking area for parents.
Perfect for: Parents of children up to 13 years old who need a break to catch up on work, or simply have a few hours of quiet, child-free time.
Environment: There’s no fancy artwork or expensive chairs here, but for busy parents the quiet escape of Take A Break’s “coworking room” is a welcome oasis. The room has coffee, worktables and chairs, and a WiFi signal – everything you need to sneak in a few hours of work before your child notices you’re not around.
Unique Services: Hourly childcare, drop-in play (parent and/or caregiver supervised play), or coworking with childcare (parents work while children are supervised in a separate room). Worried about separation anxiety? No need! When parents are coworking they can still pop over to the playcare rooms to see their child and spend a few minutes playing together, but if you’re on a productivity roll you’ll likely stay camped out in the quiet zone!
It should also be noted that Take A Break Playcare is not a good full-day option for children who need naps. The entire facility is for active play, and there are no napping areas on site. For this reason, if a child needs to sleep during the day, Take A Break recommends only booking for a few hours in-between naps.
Events and Rentals: Take A Break is closed for childcare on Sundays, and instead available to rent for kids parties, family gatherings, or special events.
Ownership: When impromptu work meetings were scheduled, Christine DeLoach struggled to find childcare on-demand, or a sitter to watch her small children for just two or four hours at a time. Knowing other working parents must be going through the same frustration, she opened Take A Break Playcare in 2015.
For more information visit: www.takeabreakplaycare.com
Coworking starting at: $12/hour | Take A Break Playcare is also available on Deskpass
For the C-Suite Crowd
Serendipity Labs (1 S Wacker Dr Ste 200, Chicago, IL 60606)
Upscale, high-performance coworking.
Perfect for: The classic professional who prefers a modern approach to the office environment.
Environment: You won’t find kegerators and oversized bean bags here. Serendipity Labs looks like the office of a major corporation that you’d actually want to work for. Their design is impeccable, the furniture is top notch, and everything feels to be perfectly in its place. Smooth white surfaces are paired with dark brown wood and offices are enclosed by sliding glass doors. With strategically placed bold colors to gently accentuate and differentiate each area, Serendipity Labs pulls off a flawlessly sophisticated look while leaving out the stuffy atmosphere.
Unique Services: Keeping in line with the tastefully curated approach, Serendipity’s event offerings are high-impact monthly Lunch & Learns covering complex topics such as equity crowdfunding, analytics for small business, and HR compliance. Proving they also know how to loosen the tie post-business hours, Serendipity hosts recurring “Thirsty Thursday” member networking events.
Unique Amenities: A 12,000+ sq. ft. “WorkLounge” exquisitely equipped with the kind of billiards table you’d never see at your neighborhood bar, a 2,100+ sq. ft. conference center, 6 meeting rooms, and a 24/7 gym.
Unique Partnerships: Serendipity’s partnerships allow members to enjoy a variety of perks such as discounts on parking, online food delivery, and Divvy bike share.
Collaboration Examples: A current member enjoyed his coworking experience so much that he is now in the process of opening his own Serendipity Labs in the suburbs!
Ownership: The first Serendipity Labs was founded in 2013 by John Arenas, a NYC real estate veteran with extensive experience in the workplace strategies industry. Arenas had a singular vision to provide premium, members-only workplaces with high performance meeting facilities at corporate standards. There are now 9 Serendipity Labs locations in 8 different U.S. cities.
For more information visit: www.serendipitylabs.com
Coworking starting at: $199/month
(Images via 2112, Serendipity Labs, Take a Break)