Desiree Ross and Matthew Fox have teamed up on a new venture aimed at helping entrepreneurs, startups and and those who just need a termporaty office space get a leg up without the costs associated with taking on a full lease. Photo by Mike Davies/Campbell River Mirror

Campbell River entrepreneurs examine a collaborative approach to ‘office work’

New coworking space soon to open in downtown Campbell River

Two local entrepreneurs who have already had an impact in the local business market have now teamed up on a new collaboration.

Which is entirely fitting, because the collaboration itself is about collaboration.

Matthew Fox, one of the brainchildren behind Beachfire Brewing and Nosh House, and Desiree Ross of Modlux Interiors, had a serendipitous meeting a while back – at their respective children’s soccer practice of all places.

At the time, Fox had been considering transitioning away from the brewery and getting back into work in information technology, and Ross happened to mention, almost in passing, that her space was simply too big for her.

“I used to have a home decor store in here,” Ross says, looking around the space, which has now become an elegantly modern, part lounge, part coffee shop, part office-style space next to the walking corridor between Tyee Plaza and the Quadra Ferry near Java Shack. “And I had my studio in the back. But two businesses was too much for me to handle with two kids and a husband who works away. So I ditched the retail because I had just way too much on my plate and the design was always my passion anyway. So then it was, like, ‘what else can I do with the space?’”

And so, just like that, the idea for Campbell River Coworking was born.

Simply put, Campbell River Coworking is a space is a storefront in Tyee Plaza where local entrepreneurs, startups, sole-proprietors and anyone else who needs a space to work can come together to do their work for a few hours, a few days, a whole month, or longer if they need it.

“It’s really a great, proven model,” Fox says. “It’s very popular in bigger centres like Vancouver or New York, where the cost of office space is exorbitant and people just can’t make the numbers work. So they’re working in their home, but your home has a lot of distractions, there’s no accountability, it takes a lot of self discipline, and, honestly, it can just get lonely. People are finding they’re missing out on that social interaction aspect you get from a shared space and the social interaction they need to stay mentally healthy.”

But it’s not an “office” in terms of everyone getting a stark, segregated cubicle. That would kind of defeat the purpose of it being conducive to collaboration and cooperation. The atmosphere of a coworking space, the way Fox sees it, at least, “is like a coffee shop, but with a focus on productivity.”

But what if you need people to just leave you alone for a bit so you can focus? In a place that’s designed to be collaborative and social, is that even a thing that can happen?

Well, Fox says, when someone rents space, they come in and are given, essentially, a traffic light.

Wait, what?

“It’s like a little cylinder that acts as a social traffic light,” Fox says. Basically you set your “status” on it so people know whether people can bother you or not.

“Green is ‘come talk to me,’ yellow is ‘I’ll talk if you need me,’ and red is, ‘leave me alone, I gotta get some crap done.’”

There are various ways to book space at Campbell River Coworking. You can book by the hour for $3.75 – for a minimum of four hours – or you can book a space for a day for $25.

Or, for those who want to set up in the space on more of a semi-permanent basis, a regular desk you can call your own for a month will cost you $200, “or you can get the deluxe package which is a bigger desk with filing cabinets and all the extras for $350,” Fox says.

“We’re trying to be flexible and have lots of options,” he says. “Basically, just come talk to us and we’ll figure out the best way for you to make use of the space and get what you need out of it.

Find and follow Campbell River Coworking on Facebook to keep up with them and see when they are open, as it could be any day now. They’re just putting the finishing touches in place, and expect to be in full swing and booking desk space before fall is out.

You could also sign up to stay in the know by going to their website at campbellrivercoworking.com and filling out their application form. Just check the box called, “being kept in the loop via email” under “Interested in…”

And if you end up booking a space at Campbell River Coworking, make sure you go talk to Desiree. She gets lonely.

“I kind of just really like having people around,” she says with a laugh. “I wouldn’t want to just sit alone in an office somewhere. I like chatter, the feel of community and being able to, you know, feed off the energy of other people.”

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