NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

April 25, 2013

A new way to work together

Shared office space is first in Merrimack Valley

By Mac Cerullo
Staff Writer

---- — When solo professionals can’t get any work done at home, normally they’ll try to move over to a coffee shop, but for those who can’t focus there either, a new option will be available in Amesbury starting next week.

Workspace 36, a new coworking office space where local professionals can enjoy a more comfortable work environment, will be opening on the second floor of 36 Main St. above Ovedia Artisan Chocolates next Wednesday.

Clients will be able to rent office space at daily or monthly rates, allowing both established small businesses and individuals working on a single project to take full advantage of the space.

According to founder Ed Justen, coworking offices are a new concept that has become prevalent in big cities over the past five years, and now is beginning to spread into suburban areas too. Workspace 36 will be the only shared office space of its kind in the Merrimack Valley, he added.

Justen came up with the idea for Workspace 36 back in January when he was working on a presentation and found the distractions of working at home overwhelming. He tried moving over to a local coffee shop, but he found it wasn’t any better there either.

That’s when Justen recalled a coworking space he encountered in Boston last summer, and he realized that if he needed a place like that to work, others in Amesbury probably would as well.

“I figured if I needed to find a place to work, then other people would too,” Justen said. “It was born out of my desire to find a place to work other than home.”

Justen is a computer software trainer, technician and consultant by trade and has eight years of experience working in Apple’s retail stores as a salesman, trainer and “genius.”

Workspace 36 is intended to be a place where solo professionals, home-based workers and others can build their businesses while sharing a comfortable work environment. Justen said the space is well lit and is equipped with powerful WiFi, desks, chairs and couches.

Once the space is up and running, Justen said he would be holding some free public workshops on how coworking works, computer training and more advanced topics like real estate and how to fill out student loan forms.

“The workshops are going to go outside of the realm of how to use a computer, iPhone or iPad,” he said.

Justen said the space will be accessible to clients 24/7 via keycode entry, and he is currently negotiating discounts with local food establishments around the downtown. Membership will be $200 per month for a desk, $100 per month for walk-ins and a $20 daily rate.

While Workspace 36 is Amesbury’s only shared office space, it isn’t the only shared working environment in town. Kitchen Local, a shared commercial kitchen space, recently opened at 14 Cedar St. and quickly built a pool of clients.

Amesbury has also become a hub of collaborative artist space as well, including The Artist’s Muse and Jon Mooers Gallery along with new artist lofts being included in the Amesbury Carriage Alliance’s plans to rehabilitate the Carriage Museum building in the Lower Millyard.

While Workspace 36 is not affiliated with any of those businesses, Justen said he likes that the idea has flourished in town.

“I think it’s cool that in Amesbury we’re doing this collaborating workplace thing,” Justen said. “I hope to use that as a marketing tool for myself and for the city.”