Co-working spaces have been popping up all over Norfolk and Virginia Beach the past couple of years but according to the owners of the 1701 co-working space in the ViBE District, there’s no such thing as too many.
Jeffrey Werby and Lisa DeNoia are co-owners of the 1701 co-working space and while the concept of co-working is fairly new to the region, the practice is not, they said.
There is no one way to run a co-working space, each space is going to offer something different than the others, drawing in a certain kind of crowd, Werby said.
For example, there are several new co-working spaces cropping up in Downtown Norfolk, and while each do offer the same general idea, they have unique aspects that would draw in customers.
There’s Gather, which offers networking, group events, private spaces and public desks to work on, and then there’s the Percolator which offers benefits and discounts to their members in addition to working spaces.
“You end up with a concentration of people with the same skill sets,” Werby said.
Like minded people will gather in the same kinds of spaces and if they don’t find what they’re looking for at one space they can always go somewhere else, he added.
Werby said co-working spaces are offering something new to the market.
They aren’t just spaces for freelancers to rent a desk — they are spaces for sales people at the Fortune 500 company who doesn’t have a local office, for people starting up a new business, for those transitioning from space to space and for people who need that office environment to get work done, he said.
“Anybody who wants a place to work that doesn’t have overhead and doesn’t want to guard their things in a coffee shop is looking for a co-working space,” he said.
In addition to offering that physical working space, the co-working environment can do a little business creating as well.
“Having a co-working space has offered a place for people to incubate businesses,” DeNoia said.
Several of the brick and mortar businesses in the ViBE District started co-working at 1701 to get their business off the ground, DeNoia said.
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“People will find the one [co-working space] that suites their needs,” she said.
Joining those new spaces has become a way to join a whole network of new and developing business spaces so as long as there are people looking for a space, the co-working spaces will thrive, DeNoia and Werby said.