When Felena Hanson started exploring co-working spaces for her own marketing business, she found (in her own words), “dudes in skinny jeans with headphones and rock music playing in the background.”
In a video interview, Hanson says she knew there had to be demand for something beyond spaces targeted to a millennial, male-focused, techy demographic. A spa-like work space for women? Lenders and building owners were hesitant. But Hanson pressed on, opening the first Hera Hub – giving a nod to Hera, the Greek goddess of women – in San Diego in 2011.
With a handful of locations in southern California and a recently opened franchise in Washington, D.C., Hera Hub calls itself a “tranquil, yet professional, co-working space designed by and for women.” Members buy a package of monthly hours and have access to work spaces, meeting and conference rooms, and business tools like Wi-Fi and video conferencing. Beyond the tangible, members are offered online support, contact with subject-matter professionals who donate time and expertise, and monthly events like lunches and a business book club.
Co-working centers are rocketing in popularity – Small Business Labs’ global coworking forecast says 1 million professionals will be co-working in more than 12,000 global coworking spaces by 2018. To add perspective, that’s about the equivalent of every white-collar employee in the entire state of Indiana.
Women-focused co-working spaces are gaining popularity across the country. In Good Company is a shared workspace in Manhattan that offers women workspaces, mentorship and partnership programs, and up to 15 classes a month on business topics. In Philadelphia, The Hive is a 900-square-foot-space that provides entrepreneurs “of all ages and backgrounds a space to work and a community full of like-minded women.”
Are you working in a co-working center designed especially for women? What makes it work for you? Sound off in the comments and share your feedback.
Kathryn Hamilton, CAE, is Vice President for Marketing and Communications at NAIOP Corporate.