At one point the concept of Fortune 500 companies and startup businesses sharing the same work space would have seemed impractical, but the coworking concept has done just that and Tucson is at the forefront.
Coworking is an alternative office style.
At the most basic level it combines the freedom of independent work and collaboration by providing a shared workspace for individuals, established businesses and anything in between.
This shift in the workplace has quickly spread around the nation, and in 2014 the fad came to Tucson with the opening of Connect Coworking.
“We like the ‘feel’ at Connect, it’s fun and friendly, while also providing a professional workspace,” said Frank Bohac, a Connect member and president of Bohac Consulting Services Inc.
When thinking of a traditional office space, most people imagine one business and its employees. Connect Coworking breaks this normality by housing over 88 diverse enterprises under one roof.
“As soon as you walk into Connect you are immersed with networking opportunities,” said Danielle Schiess, Connect’s operation manager.
While these networking opportunities are beneficial for any company, Schiess mentioned that it is especially helpful for new businesses in the area.
Instead of having to search around Tucson for a graphic designer, financial advisor and other specialties, businesses that move into Connect can typically find these people at the next desk over or down the hall.
“I feel so lucky that we don’t have a specific niche because all of our companies are able to utilize one another, which is really what coworking is about,” Schiess said.
The Connect team is made up of four individuals who are responsible for maintaining the office space and keeping it innovative for its members.
“I’ve noticed how myself and my partners have been getting creative and are really passionate about flourishing our coworking space,” said Jocelyn Valencia, Connect’s community ambassador.
This unique work environment is far from quiet cubicles and bland walls. There is a vibrant energy that travels throughout as members of different enterprises collaborate and brainstorm on their latest projects.
“The collaboration in this kind of environment is natural,” said Maddy Blank, a Connect member and co-founder of Defined by Me. “Sometimes it takes me 20 minutes to get to my desk because there are so many people to stop and talk with.”
Connect members have a variety of plans to choose from depending on their specific wants and needs. The basic, “Flex Space” is designed for members like Frank Bohac, who do not need an office every day or prefer the typical 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. workday. This workspace is $150 per month.
The two higher tier memberships include more flexibility by providing 24/7 access to the building and permanent work stations. These memberships start at $400 a month with the completely private office space at $750 or a month.
“Connect is really passionate about bridging the gap between work life and home life,” said Schiess. “We want to show people that work doesn’t have to be dreary, it can actually be fun and energetic.”
The Connect team works tries to bridge this gap by offering perks that are included in each membership fee. From necessities like Wi-Fi and other business equipment to local beer on tap and an in-house masseur, Connect members are encouraged to work however and whenever they work best.
These business amenities also make Connect “plug in ready” according to Schiess. As soon as members join Connect, their only responsibility is to open their computers and get to work. Water, electricity, conference rooms, printers and all other foundational needs are taken care of .
Connect is located in the heart of Downtown Tucson, which has become prime real estate according to Swain Chapman, owner of Chapman Management Group, a commercial real estate company.
“Connect’s membership plans are a good deal for office space considering the location and the benefits that are included.” Chapman pointed out that not only is Connect’s office space affordable, but also there is limited space available in Downtown Tucson.
Bohac said that his company specifically wanted an office space Downtown, and after checking all the options, they decided that Connect was the best fit because of the atmosphere and flexibility.
“When we bring in large out-of-town clients, they are always impressed,” he said.
To encourage growth of Downtown Tucson, the Connect team provides exclusive deals to its members with local businesses to further relationships within the community.
“We’re all very passionate about having people know what Connect is, and collaborating with other organizations so that we can benefit the Tucson community as a whole,” Schneiss said.
The purpose of Connect and its coworking method is to offer people more than just an office space. This environment is aimed to help startups and established companies grow while working together as freely as they please.
The Connect team expects this workplace environment to continue to grow in Tucson and around the nation as more people become aware of the benefits.
“We are all like-minded individuals and that’s what makes it special here,” Valencia said. “We love helping each other, we love supporting each other and we absolutely love getting to work.”