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Are we finally ready to embrace co-working?

Slideshow: Co-working at Harrisburg's st@rtup

In the bright and cavernous main work area at st@rtup in midtown Harrisburg, freelancers, telecommuters and employees taking time out of the office dot long work tables.

Some are zoned in on their computers, headphones on. Others are chatting in groups. Every now and then, someone steps into a glass-doored soundproof booth to take a phone call or record a podcast.

As employees move away from traditional office settings, co-working spaces like st@rtup blend independence with community and offer tech tools for today’s digital workplace.

Forty percent of the U.S. workforce will work remotely by 2020, st@rtup community manager Tori Yardsley said from her desk at the entrance to the building. St@rtup offers a place for that nearly 40 percent to stave off the negative effects of working remotely – e.g., disconnectedness and isolation – and create meaningful connections that are possible in the workplace.

“It has a very unique position in that it can become like an intentional community for people,” Yardsley said.

Josiah Farnsworth, who works with CAP Collective, a video production company based at st@rtup, appreciates the opportunities to connect and learn from his fellow “co-workers” – not other CAP Collective employees, but rather, other st@rtup members from a variety of professions.

“You can talk to people who aren’t in your industry. And if you have some issue, it’s just nice to bounce those ideas of people,”  Farnsworth said. 

Like all the offices at st@rtup, CAP Collective’s space is compact with glass windows, encouraging mingling with other st@rtup members. Farnsworth sat outside the office in the main work area, and although he was working independently on his laptop, he shared the table with other co-workers.

It’s that sense of “alone, together”-ness that has fueled st@rtup’s success.

St@rtup opened in 2013 in a more modest space down the street from its current home on 3rd Street, which opened in mid-2016. The upgrade has been well-received. Its current membership is at 70, and growth has accelerated as it heads into its second year at 922 North 3rd St, Yardsley said. 

Other local co-working spaces have had varied success. Lancaster’s The Candy Factory and its Warwick Township project Rock Candy, which opened a year ago on the expansive Rock Lititz production campus, appear to be bustling. Downtown York’s CoWork155, on the other hand, closed last October after nearly four years in operation.

Internationally, co-working spaces have been on the rise. According to the January 2017 Global Coworking Survey from deskmag and Social Workplaces, coworking spaces and their memberships were poised to increase in 2017. The number of coworking spaces was projected to hit 14,000 worldwide, while memberships were seen climbing to 1.2 million people.

If you go:

St@rtup offers a variety of ways to co-work. A day-pass or a six-session pass offers a trial of co-working. An unlimited access membership starts at $175/month. Meeting rooms are available for hourly rental.

Amenities for members include a well-stocked kitchen and access to a parking lot, plus free street parking on side streets off of Third Street during midday hours.

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