Teleworkers: It’s Time to Leave the House

The Loft, a co-working space, recently opened in Harbor Springs, Michigan, and those behind the nonprofit venture are inviting you to expand your workspace.

Board member, Bill Mulder (center), and Executive Director, Rachel Smolinski (red), during the recent open house at The Loft.

Harbor, Inc., Board member, Bill Mulder (center), and Executive Director, Rachel Smolinski (red), during the recent open house at The Loft Coworking Space.

“I’m a fairly new full-time resident to the Harbor Springs area, and I’ve been a remote worker in a number of positions throughout my career,” said Bill Mulder, a board member of Harbor, Inc. “Working from home can be productive and effective, but it can also be lonely and isolating. The Loft invites people to get out of their basements and into a social, fun working environment, especially on dark, winter days.”

The Loft is located at 152 East Main Street in downtown Harbor Springs. The 1,400 square foot space sits on the second floor and offers high-speed internet, a friendly, open space to network, and places to telework, including three stand-up desks.

Rachel Smolinski is the Executive Director of Harbor, Inc. She’s been kicking around ideas for a long time about the best way to connect with the growing number of remote and at-home workers, more commonly referred to as teleworkers.

“We knew that there were quite a few home-based workers in the area,” Smolinski said. “There are a fairly large number of individuals working out of their homes as employees or running their own business.”

The outside view from The Loft

The outside view from The Loft

Harbor, Inc. partnered with Connected Nation (CN) to leverage CN’s Connected Community Engagement Program through its local subsidiary, Connect Michigan. The program surveys a community’s businesses, residents, providers, and others and works with a local planning team of champions to come up with a community-specific Technology Action Plan.

In 2015, Connect Michigan released a paper that looked at the potential impact of remote workers for the state. The group found that “rural telework centers can serve as a symbol of community vibrancy, improving quality of life and catalyzing economic development and community revitalization. As a result, communities are able to attract permanent residents and temporary visitors to their locations, as well as prevent current residents from departing.”

A look inside The Loft Coworking Space in Harbor Springs, Michigan

A look inside The Loft Coworking Space in Harbor Springs

Addressing how to connect with remote workers is something that Harbor Springs’ leaders looked at while completing their Technology Action Plan, and providing a central location for those workers has since become something they’ve embraced.

“In our plan we didn’t mention that we’d set up a co-working space, but we knew that we were going to support these home-based businesses. Over the last six months, this idea came to light and all the pieces really fell into place.  Now, I’m sitting here talking to you from our co-working space,” Smolinski said.

“We also had to think about if we could ultimately use this space and our community’s awareness of business people as a way to recruit new full-time residents—people who can work from anywhere—to Harbor Springs,” Mulder added. “We would just love to see more full time residents who can bring their jobs with them and add even more vitality to our community. The real win would be to see more families here and more children enrolling in our wonderful schools.”

Smolinski also hopes The Loft will benefit other downtown businesses by bringing more people to the area that would then stay for a movie and dinner or simply have lunch during their work day.

Want to work from The Loft? Here’s How
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The Loft officially had its soft opening on Friday, September 1, and in its first week it already had 11 members sign up to use the space regularly. Another 35 people say they’ll sign up as “drop in” users.

That brings us to your options:  a monthly membership of $125 or a drop-in/daily rate of $20. The monthly membership means you can use the space any time, day or night. To sign up, complete a membership application and choose a payment option on the website at www.harborspringsloft.work.

“My hope is that we’ll have enough interest and members to make this workspace sustainable,” Smolinski said. “I hope it becomes something that’s recreated in other downtowns. In a perfect world, I would like to see these desks full of workers every day.”

Office Standup 2 JH (1 of 1) Office East JH

 

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