Caz CoWorks member Doug O’Connor, who lives about eight miles outside Cazenovia in Pompey Center, said he loves where he lives, but the lack of Internet makes it nearly impossible to work from home. Caz CoWorks has made it possible for him to be a remote worker. (photo by Jason Emerson)
In an increasingly digital world, it is not uncommon for business professionals to work remotely. But while working from home or on a laptop in a coffeeshop may offer greater flexibility, it also can offer its own set of distractions and limitations, which is why the idea of coworking has been on the rise.
Coworking, defined by Whatiscoworking.com as any situation in which two or more people are working in the same place together, but not for the same company, offers independent professionals, telecommuters and others who have the ability to work from anywhere the opportunity to share one working environment. Such an operation is seen as productive for workers, positive for employers and beneficial for the community in which such coworking spaces are created.
In Cazenovia, the new Caz CoWorks location on Albany Street opened in January with the intention of offering a well-equipped and reasonably priced remote work space for professionals in Cazenovia and surrounding areas, such as Manlius, Chittenango and Morrisville. The idea came from a community survey that showed a desire for a local workspace.
“This is a trendy thing in cities, but very unusual for a small town to have,” said Lauren Lines, executive director of CACDA (Cazenovia Area Community Development Association), the organization that created Caz CoWorks. “It is perfect for Cazenovia because we are remote and web connections outside the village are not great. Our members include home workers who need a better internet connection and people with offices in Syracuse who don’t want to commute.”
“People live in Cazenovia for the community not because their employer is here, and this space expands their working options,” said CACDA President Jocelyn Gavitt.
Caz CoWorks, located on the second floor at 87 Albany St., offers two large open rooms where a variety of different work stations, some casual seating areas, two private offices (rented by the month), a conference room, kitchen, two restrooms and a sound-buffered phone booth (formerly a closet). Members get 24/7 access to all rooms (except the private offices) conference room reservation rights and high-speed internet access. Membership costs $95 per month (extra for those who take one of the private offices).
“This is a good, new space where I can get large projects done and interact with other interesting people,” said member Dan Morgan, a Cazenovia resident who is the chief marketing officer for an international non-profit organization based in Washington, D.C.
Morgan, who has been a member of Caz CoWorks since it opened in January, said he likes being able to walk to the space and, “simply put, it gets me out of the house a little bit.”
Member Doug O’Connor, who lives about eight miles outside Cazenovia in Pompey Center, said he loves where he lives, but the lack of Internet makes it nearly impossible to work from home. He needs Skype, videoconferencing and other web-based offerings to do his job, so Caz CoWorks is a blessing.
“It saved me, in a way,” said O’Connor, who recently moved upstate from the Hudson Valley. “Satellite access would have affected my ability to be a remote worker. Caz CoWorks has allowed me to transition faster [to remote working].”
O’Connor said that he, as someone new to the Cazenovia area, also likes the social aspect of coworking — it has allowed him to meet new people and make professional connections. “Even if I had cable, I’d still come here,” he said.
Caz CoWorks was created in consultation with Syracuse CoWorks — the next closest coworking space to Cazenovia — and membership in one offers reciprocal use in the other, Lines said. “It’s a nice little perk. We have people take advantage of that a lot. People who have a meeting in Syracuse can go there and use that coworking space,” she said.
Any profits from Caz CoWorks will be dedicated to projects to enhance the Cazenovia downtown business district.
For information on becoming a member or to schedule a tour, contact Lauren Lines at email@example.com or 315-655-7651.
According to a survey by the Harvard Business Journal (published in a September 2015 article) coworking has been a positive experience for professionals. The survey found that people who use coworking spaces see their work as meaningful, they feel they have more job control and they feel part of a community.
The HBJ stated that although coworking had its origins among freelancers, entrepreneurs and the tech industry, it has become increasingly relevant for and increasingly utilized by traditional companies for two main reasons: First, they are being used as an alternative place for people to work; second, the lessons of coworking spaces can be applied to corporate offices.
“Our research — which is ongoing — suggests that the combination of a well-designed work environment and a well-curated work experience are part of the reason people who cowork demonstrate higher levels of thriving than their office-based counteraparts. But what matters the most for high levels of thriving is that people who cowork have substantial autonomy and can be themselves at work,” the HBJKK article stated.
Jason Emerson is editor of the Cazenovia Republican and Eagle Bulletin newspapers.