Tessa McLoughlin’s co-working space, Club Kwench, was launched in September 2017. Anna James/VICTORIA NEWS

Tessa McLoughlin’s co-working space, Club Kwench, was launched in September 2017. Anna James/VICTORIA NEWS

Victoria entrepreneur Kwench-ing the thirst for productivity, space

Co-working spaces answer need to watch costs for solo workers, growing companies

For many workers, the days of the 9 to 5 office job are over, thanks to the rise of the freelance industry.

Particularly in the creative fields – content, marketing, and design – there is a growing need for collaborative environments that accommodate long hours (and big ideas).

Local entrepreneur Tessa McLoughlin has developed a solution: Club Kwench, a wellness-focused creative co-working space.

“In 2013, I started developing the co-working concept,” said McLoughlin from Kwench headquarters on Fort Street. “I thought, man, I wish there was a space I could work, learn, hold meetings and feel like I belonged to something bigger than just myself. A space that would remove the busyness and facilitate a balanced life.”

For $200 a month, “social members” gain access to desk space, meeting rooms, phone booths, the kitchen and more from 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., Monday to Friday.

For $400 a month, members can reserve a desk and gain 24-hour access to the facility. There are also flexible entry passes and office rental options available.

Secondary to working, club members are encouraged to use the space to connect; every week Kwench hosts Taco Tuesday, and twice per week, yoga classes are available.

“I believe social interaction stimulates productivity,” said McLoughlin, who noted that freelancing can be an isolating and lonely experience. “Connection is the most important thing to maintain a happy life.”

From a business perspective, a co-working environment makes sense too, she added. “Five-year leases are going to be a thing of the past … why commit to all of that overhead while you’re trying to grow your business?”

One member rented a single desk for himself and as his business grew, he purchased a membership for each new employee. He now rents an office for five at Kwench.

There’s also the housing factor.

“Homes are becoming smaller and rent is higher. I notice members say they’re short of space at home and their partners want them out,” McLoughlin said.

With the increasingly narrow B.C. housing market, home office spaces are a luxury that few can afford.

Within six months of its launch, the space is almost at capacity. A limited amount of social memberships and flex-entry are still available.

McLoughlin continues to improve her space through observing the needs of her clientele. Club Kwench’s next Victoria location is slated to be five times bigger than the flagship hub. The new location is planned to boast more fitness facilities, workshops and classes, a library and sleeping pods.

Co-working space is not a new concept, but still in its infancy.

“It’s part of the sharing economy,” McLoughlin noted, “We are slowly learning that we’re better working together than alone.”

anna.james@vicnews.com

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