WOODSTOCK – Woodstock business owners, freelancers and others who work from home said they’re excited by the city’s new co-working space at Stage Left Café on the Square.
The city recently opened its co-working space in an effort to provide a space for people to get out of the house, get some work done and connect with others in similar work situations in a quiet, comfortable environment.
The Chicago Community Trust awarded the city of Woodstock a $2,500 grant to pilot the program. If the co-working community grows, there is a possibility down the line for the space to relocate to the Old Courthouse Arts Center, which still needs redevelopment. A co-working space was one recommendation from Artspace, which conducted a future use study on the Courthouse last year.
Patrons of the space said working from home can become tedious and disconnected, which is why a spot like this is needed.
“I do really like being around other business owners because we can give each other advice and get tips and ideas,” said Woodstock resident Wendy Piersall, who works in publishing. “The whole point of getting out of the house – whether it’s kids, or laundry, or dogs – you just need some uninterrupted time and that is what it’s been good for.”
Piersall said that while she uses places such as coffee shops and cafés for meetings, the environment isn’t conducive to getting things accomplished.
“It’s a lot more quiet here,” Piersall said. “It’s easier to focus, whereas with Starbucks or Ethereal [Confections], it’s just a little too chaotic to get work done.”
The co-working space offers high speed internet and access to networking printing, along with refreshments. The city plans to begin offering “business bootcamp” workshops at the café as well, which are planned through March and will cover topics such as how to get a book published, digital design for social media and entrepreneurship.
“Our intention is to keep it going and there is no reason to move it unless we get a lot of people,” said Terry Willcockson, grant writer for the city of Woodstock. “I think once the weather gets colder more people are going to come out. … In general, we have about a dozen people in and out throughout the day.”
Woodstock resident Ryan Gerry, who does software development, works from home about 90 percent of the time. He visited the space for the first time Monday and said he is excited its available locally.
“It’s nice to get out of the house and talk to other people and get a change of scenery,” he said. “Coffee shops are OK, but it’s nice to have a quieter space so you’re not hearing the noise from the espresso machine when you’re trying to make a call.”
The co-working space is open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Mondays. The business bootcamp series will begin Oct. 16 with “How to Get Your Book Published Without Perishing First.” The free workshop will begin at noon.
“We are very pleased to see the great response so far to our free pilot co-working center,” Woodstock Economic Development coordinator Krista Coltrin said. “The timely and convenient information offered in these sessions is a natural next step.”
The tentative list of dates and topics includes:
• Oct. 16: How to Get Your Book Published Without Perishing First
• Nov. 13: CANVA: Quick & Easy Graphic Design for Social Media
• Jan. 15: Wellness Workshop I – Identifying & Managing Stressors & Distractors
($15 registration includes lunch)
• Feb. 19: Work Smarter Not Harder: Multiple Income Streams for Artists
• March 19: Entrepreneurship and Enterprise: Lessons Learned from WHS
Patrons of the space can connect on Facebook at the Woodstock Co-Working Community group.