With remote working being a longer-term reality for more people these days, a new women’s co-working space in downtown Bellingham is offering workspace flexibility.
Heather Simpson recently opened Her Connection Hub in the former PSE space at 1329 North State St. The 6,000-square-foot facility has a variety of workstations and conference rooms named after women, including Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Michelle Obama.
While the co-working space opened just three months ago, membership has already reached 50% of the annual goal, Simpson said. She estimates 94% of the members are at-home business owners, while there are a few brick-and-mortar business owners who need a quiet place to get the bookkeeping part of the business done.
For the at-home business owners, many wanted to have a place to host Zoom or in-person meetings in a professional setting, but many are appreciating the value of connecting with other women business owners. Along with tips and advice, there’s a positive energy that helps balance out the isolation of working from home during the COVID-19 pandemic, Simpson said.
“We’ve had an influx of women who are working from home who need a change of scenery… to not be lonely and it improves their mental health,” Simpson said in an interview.
Working remotely was becoming popular before the pandemic. In the past two years, places like Bellingham have become popular for remote workers. That’s also led to quite a few new co-working spaces in the city — a Google search indicates nearly a dozen co-working spaces are here, with many having arrived in the past five years. As communities move past the early stages of the pandemic, one preference that is emerging among office workers is hybrid offices, according to a recent article recently posted in Entrepreneur.com. The preference for workers is going into the office between one and four days a week while working closer to home the rest of the time. That could make co-working spaces even more common.
Simpson starting planning for a co-working space before the arrival of COVID-19, so she’s been adjusting her business plan throughout the pandemic, including establishing pandemic masking rules. One of the key lessons she’s learned from the pandemic in relation to the business is the importance of connections. Before the pandemic, connecting with other business people was something that was taken for granted. She’s noticed that members are recognizing that importance and striving for deeper connections that go beyond typical networking, focusing on getting to better know others.
As for it being an all-women’s facility, it’s based on what she sees as a need and desire for in the community. She noted that the conversations tend to be different than in a mixed-gender setting. Discussions tend to be more around issues specific to what women business owners face in their day-to-day lives. The facility does not require proof of vaccination from members, but unvaccinated members are asked to wear masks. The co-working space has a variety of plans, including drop-in, so membership prices vary. For further details visit the company’s website.
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