New Coworking Space Gives Independent Workers a Home

CoLab Evanston is open to early clients, but hasn't officially launched yet.

Miguel Wong is sick of working in coffee shops. A work-from-home job can be isolating, he says, but coffee shops aren't professional and can be distracting.

That's why he helped create the Evanston coLab office space. The office, located at 900 Chicago Avenue, is a bright, open space with dedicated desks and a "floater area" for people who pay to come in monthly or by the day.

"Being in a coworking space is infinitely better than a coffee shop," Wong said in a recent interview with Patch. "It still has the casual feeling of a coffee shop ... there's comradery, lots of sharing of ideas, collaboration."

Wong's partner, Eric Harper, also worked from home and said he found a need for a place to be around other people on a regular basis.

"Coffee shops are great if you're doing heads down work like computer programming, but there's a real need for a space like this," Harper said.

CoLab is not Evanston's first shared workspace. Wong and a different partner started CoWorking Evanston last year on Davis Street, but it fell through. Wong teamed up with Harper and started looking for a new location in September, and brought over people from the last space and others through referrals.

The space has been open since October, and on a recent Friday was occupied by a handful of people hard at work, but Wong said the space has not technically opened for business. Once it is open, he said they will sell a range of subscription plans.

"We only have two spaces left for dedicated desks," Harper said. "But we plan and expect turnover. People move away, they outgrow the space."

Local tie expert Brooke Saucier, similar to Netflix, works out of coLab. As does Steve Gadlin, who runs Iwanttodrawacatforyou.com and, as the site name implies,

Wong says the building's open floor plan encourages collaboration and bonds among people who work for a variety of different companies.

Wong and Harper pointed out the Ikea furniture and cubicle-free workspace, noting that it's intended to be easily moved around and changed to fit the needs of the coworking community. Some things are still in the process of being figured out and changed, such as the way coworkers must walk through a conference room and potentially interrupt meetings in order to get to the bathroom and kitchen.

"We always emphasize planning and how to make the space better," Harper said.

CoLab is open Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Jim Osburn January 23, 2012 at 09:33 PM
It's an interesting idea, but I sense a couple of drawbacks right off: 1) Lack of privacy--if you're talking with your lawyer or CPA, do you really want everyone else to hear your business? The bathroom access thru the conference room is a great example, too. 2) Short hours--most entrepeneurs do their best work when thier banker is gone for the day. Maybe in the wee hours of the morning or late at night or there's a big project that has to be worked on over the weekend. The 8:30 - 5:00, M-F will be too confining. Keep tweaking the concept, there's a niche out there for you. Jim Osburn CPA
Jessica Rudis January 23, 2012 at 11:50 PM
Jim, Re: your second point -- I didn't mention this in the article, but people under the biggest price plan also have keys and can open/close up whenever. Your point is still true for people who pay by the day or have lower plans.


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