When COVID first hit, it drastically changed the workplace. Suddenly, people were performing their jobs from home and many still have that option now years later. However, while plenty of employees may still be thrilled to skip long, tedious commutes, some have learned their home is not the best place to get work done either. Needy pets, screaming kids, and lack of technological tools can make remote work a challenge. But for those looking for a happy medium between their home and the office, there are shared workspaces.
Maudi Silver-Mallemat is the co-owner of one such space in Collingswood, Hub:868, that just opened for business in February. However, by a strange coincidence, the proj- ect had actually been in development since before COVID even happened. By the time Hub:868 opened its doors, it had become a solution to people looking for a remote workspace – that wasn’t their home.
“Prior to COVID, the data for coworking and shared workspaces showed it was on a steady incline,” said Silver-Mallemat when asked about the creation of the project. She explained how COVID threw a wrench into some plans as the world figured out what to make of the situation, but once people got accustomed to the setup, they embraced remote work in even bigger numbers.
“So now that people have been working remotely for so long and it’s clear that their jobs can be done remotely—or hybrid to some extent—people just don’t want to go back to work,” said Silver-Mallemat. “But they also don’t necessarily want to continue working from home and the temporary set- ups they’ve created.”
You might think a coffee shop or library could solve the issue, but even those are not
ideal. Suppose you want to have a meeting with your entire team, would you really want to try and cram everyone into Dunkin’ or Starbucks? And most libraries don’t have areas for the public to show their presen- tation on a screen. Whereas Hub:868 is prepared with all the amenities a working professional could ask for.
Hub:868 has high speed internet, meeting rooms available in a variety of sizes, rooms with soundproofing for taking private calls, AV equipment for showing presentations, a supervised daycare, printers, couches, chairs and standing desks. It even offers free coffee and snacks, so you get your coffee shop perks as well.
Silver-Mallemat explained how the other companies that share the space with you can be an advantage. “It offers all of the amenities that you would look for in a workspace or in an office, but we add some- thing different in that it’s a community of professionals from varied occupations,” said Silver-Mallemat. “So we have more differences in what people are coming in to do. Which adds to a more vibrant, interesting, collaborative community.”
For people working in the open sections, it can provide an opportunity to network with other companies or bounce ideas off people doing similar work.
On a typical week the hub has around 10 teams of varying sizes that come by to use the space, but Hub:868 is open to everyone regardless of what your needs are. If you just need their amenities for one time only, you can buy a day pass to use the nearly 3,000 square foot space. Or if you know you would use a shared workspace with more regularity, you can get a membership at a full time or part time level. You can call to book in advance or walk in as needed.
And it is not just office workers who can benefit from the services. This Fall, in the same building as the workspaces, they will also offer Hub: Kitchen for those in the food services industry. This is a space for amateur
chefs to gain experience, or for experienced cooks to try out making a new dish. Hub: Kitchen comes equipped with a six burner range, two ovens, refrigerators, freezers, a prep station, cookware and a three basin sink.
“Maybe they are just doing a small batch production of something special that they make and they don’t necessarily need a full time kitchen, they would be able to come in and use this space here for the production of their food,” said Silver-Mallemat. She also explained that having a restaurant requires business acumen, which makes being along- side Hub: 868 a great complement for chefs. “As they tend their market and grow, we can support them by providing business related services and professional development so they can eventually have their own brick and mortar and go on to have and run a success- ful business outside of here.”
What excites Silver-Mallemat is seeing the intermingling of people from so many dif- ferent professions in a shared workspace. She talked about how on a single day there can be creatives, programmers and executives all working in the same proximity at Hub: 868. She feels it really shows off the richness of the Collingswood community and demon- strates that the area is embracing this idea. And as someone who is new to this herself, Silver-Mallemat is relieved to see that when she reached out, the community was reaching back for this.
“There was a lot of uncertainty,” she said. “Especially because it’s such a new industry for measa business owner. I hadn’t owned or ran a coworking space before so I was going into this fresh. We’re also in a small niche community. Coworking traditionally has been well-received in cities and larger urban settings. So bringing it into a
smaller town like Collingswood requires a lot more education of the community— which I fully embrace.”
Hub: 868 is open Monday through Friday from 9am-5pm. For more information, you can reach them at 856-595-9166 or by email at Info@hub868.com.