Coworking Evanston offers shared workspace

Kris Anne Bonifacio

Situated above a coffee shop on the corner of Davis Street and Chicago Avenue, Coworking Evanston looks nothing like an office.

But that is exactly what co-owners Miguel Wong and William Melody envisioned for the space when they bought it last November. Catching on to the idea of coworking spaces that have been popping up in large cities like New York and Chicago since 2008, Wong and Melody said they wanted to bring the concept of a shared working environment to Evanston.

“Instead of trying to turn coffee shops into offices, we give people a place where they can get that social interaction from the coffee shop, but at the same time, a place where they can actually work,” Melody, a 2005 Northwestern alumnus, said.

Coworking spaces give those who work from home a place to interact with other independent professionals. Wong and Melody said the idea is to create a working environment similar to an office. The only catch is the employees work for their own companies. Owners of coworking spaces worldwide are sharing ideas on a Wiki page and a Google group, giving tips on how to set up spaces and connecting those interested in starting up a space in their hometown.

Melody and Wong are both software developers, and Coworking Evanston, 600 Davis St., aims to cater to people who are just like them; people who want a middle point between working at home and working in coffee shops, Melody said.

“I like my home office, for instance, but I don’t get the social interaction when I work there, so I get bored,” Wong said.

Though they just opened Feb. 1, Wong said a lot of people have stopped in to visit, including recruiters, software developers, designers and startups, he said. The first visit to the offices is free.

Wong said the two hope to grow a community.

“The idea is to have different people with different skills collaborate with each other,” Wong said.

Northwestern graduate student Winston Chang visited Coworking Evanston after Wong, his neighbor, told him about it. He said he was looking forward to seeing the community of the coworking space blossom.

“It was great to be in a different environment,” the fifth-year psychology student said. “It’s interesting and exciting to be around people that are doing different things than what I’m used to. If I want to be around people that do psychology work, I can do that by coming into my office. Hopefully, they’ll eventually have enough people around to share expertise in different areas.”

He said that while he hopes to be back at Coworking a few more times, he doesn’t necessarily anticipate frequenting it often.

“I don’t know how often I would come, just because as a graduate student, I don’t have a lot of money to spend,” he said. “And I do have an office here on campus that I can get for free.”

But for graduate students and professionals who don’t have their own office, Coworking Evanston would be an ideal place, he said.

Coworking Evanston provides clients Internet access, coffee and a shared printer. Professionals can use the main office, where they can interact with other Coworking clients and hold meetings. Coworking uses a punch-card system for the main office, where one can purchase a card with a certain number of visits.

There is no lease, it’s very flexible and the punch cards end up costing $10-$15 per visit, Wong said.

There are also private offices available on a monthly lease, but there are no contracts, Melody said. Customers can also purchase a 24-hour access to the main office with a plan.

[email protected]