MANCHESTER, NH – For anyone who has ever worked in an office, working from home is the ultimate cube dweller fantasy.
No more hyena-laughing coffee-slurping co-workers. No more nerve-wracking snow day commutes. And no more worrying about whether you have a clean shirt for tomorrow. People who work from home wear sweats or pajamas all day, right?
In honor of National Coworking Day we are taking a look at the state of coworking in southern New Hampshire and why it’s the perfect solution for anyone who works from home.
As a concept, the idea of sharing on-demand communal workspace seems obvious, but coworking as reality is relatively new.
Once limited to entrepreneurs and freelancers, many companies have embraced the idea of allowing employees to work remotely. And that expanding pool of remote workers has created a market for a new kind of flexible workspace that meets their needs without the cost or commitment of renting regular office space.
While coworking spaces started appearing across the country in 2010, Dan Scanlon, a senior associate with the Manchester office of real estate broker Colliers International says they didn’t start popping up around the Granite State until about five years ago.
Since then, there has been an explosion of growth with at least eight coworking spaces now operating across the southern part of the state. This appears to be on par with national trends which have seen an incredible 50 percent annual increase since 2010. 
Scanlon says it’s a good use of commercial space as it meets the changing needs of today’s businesses and fills a void for transitional office space for people who work at home.
- Desk Space
- Concierge services like phone answering, mail, business address, copy services
- High-speed internet
- Conference & meeting rooms
- Professional Environment
- Kitchens & common areas
While most spaces offer similar basic services, each coworking space also provides its own unique spin on the extras.
Coworking House (COHO) in Milford has one of the most unique offerings with their COHO Kids Club.
COHO co-owner Kristin Hardwick says they’re not a daycare provider, but the COHO Kids Club is a member service that provides up to two hours of supervised care while parents attend a meeting or work on a deadline. The program is open to children from 6-weeks to 7 years old at a cost of $10 per hour, $5 for each additional child, and requires a reservation 24-hours in advance. (see website for more details)
Out on the seacoast, All+One in Portsmouth considers itself a community-based coworking space with a focus on incorporating work-life integration.
In addition to regular business workshops and networking events, owner Stephanie Cofrin says their public spaces have a rotating gallery featuring local artists. She says the current featured artist is Pamela Bates of Stratham and they will be hosting their first Meet the Artist event on Friday, August 8 from 5 – 7 p.m. at All+One, 125 Brewery Lane, #6, Portsmouth.
Closer to home, CoWERC owner Chris Pastrana is bringing his business connections and networking expertise to his new coworking space in Londonderry. (They’re so new the official Grand Opening event isn’t until August 20 – see website for discount offer.)
Known for his popular NH Business Show podcast, Pastrana has met with hundreds of local business owners and has tailored CoWERC’s offering to meet their needs.
Regular networking groups, weekly presentations, and classes from local experts on a wide range of business topics are all on the agenda. And like COHO and All+One, he says anyone is welcome to host a class or volunteer as a speaker.
The overriding theme for all these spaces is a sense of community.
Hardwick says “It takes a village to raise a business, and we create the village.”
It’s an important message.
It’s hard to imagine missing the smell of someone burning popcorn in the office microwave or your boss hanging over your shoulder, but for many people working from home brings a sense of isolation.
This is where coworking spaces shine.
Phil Cutler, a remote worker who has worked out of the Red Oak Coworking Offices in Manchester for the past six months, says that was what motivated him to find coworking space.
“After a while, the walls start closing in so I like getting out of the house a couple of days a week.” He says taking coworking space at Red Oak was a good choice because it’s in a convenient location and offers the quiet environment he needs to work.
But amenities like internet, free coffee, and free copies aren’t enough. It’s also important to take stock in what a coworking space is really offering.
Greg Cullen, co-owner of WBC Office Suites  in Manchester, says to look beyond cost and basic amenities when choosing a space.
- Is management visible and on-site?
- Are they responsive to needs?
- Do they provide a secure environment for your personal safety?
The prices and features may be similar, but not every coworking space is created equal.
In addition to top-of-the-line workspaces and conference rooms, WBC offers a staffed day time reception area to check-in visitors and 24/7 key card access to members.
Public areas are monitored by security cameras and management is on hand to answer questions.
In a world where workplace security is a real concern, these are crucial features for people working non-standard hours on their own.
If you’re tired of taking meetings at Starbuck’s or working from your kitchen table, think about giving coworking a try.
With day pricing between $10 – $25 and monthly free-range seating between $100 – $250, the Granite State’s coworking spaces make a very attractive, affordable alternative to working from home.
- Source: Colliers International 2019 US Flexible Workspace Outlook Report
- Disclosure: Manchester Ink Link rents office space at WBC Office Suites.