The CoLounge is a boutique coworking office and community event space in the heart of Fairlawn. A female-owned business that launched in July of 2020, The CoLounge provides a convenient, professional, yet comfortable and flexible workspace to local entrepreneurs, those working remotely, and others in need of a place to connect, collaborate, and create.
But why is it needed now?
It may be difficult to remember, but there was a time when working remotely, likely at home, was not commonplace. While the technological capabilities were there, many industries and, specifically, companies were slow to evolve. The corporate norms and traditions often won out when pitted against the notion of a workforce functioning effectively anywhere other than within the confines of the stereotypical office building.
The rarity of work from home no doubt created a fantasized idealism of what it must be like. It’s understandable – you’re spending 40 (or 50…or 60…) hours each week in a sterile, fluorescent-lit world away from your home and your family, and you’re likely spending significant time and money on your commute as well. You can’t help but think how much greener the grass must be when working from home.
Of course in the spring of 2020, so many were forced to find out what that grass was like. As companies across the country transitioned their workforce to remote settings in response to a global pandemic, what may have once been a fantasy became an extreme reality. And while that reality may have some advantages, it is not without many challenges.
Small-business owners, entrepreneurs, and veterans of the remote-office landscape are well versed in those challenges, as the comforts of home can quickly manifest into distractions. Corporate offices are designed for efficiency – reliable, high-speed tech resources. Home networks are often pieced together to provide just enough bandwidth so the kids can mindlessly stream YouTube videos. If a face-to-face meeting is preferred, clients are welcomed to either the dining room table, or a local coffee spot or Panera.
For many the solution is a coworking space like The CoLounge (www.thecolounge.com), founded in 2020 by Kristen Birkbeck.
Coworking isn’t new, but the rapid increase in available coworking spaces (up 40% since 2019) shows that its popularity is quickly expanding. The objective is to provide professional amenities of the corporate office setting and combine them with the flexibility and comfort of home. It allows for meetings, presentations, and events without interruptions from barking dogs, hungry kids, or slow connection speeds. It’s privacy when needed, space when needed, and always convenient.
Much like other areas, Northeast Ohio is seeing a rise in coworking facilities – seeking to support entrepreneurs, small business owners and a professional workforce searching for the right spot between home and office. Spots in Summit, Medina, Wayne, and Cuyahoga Counties have emerged from the pandemic with a similar objective as The CoLounge and, while coworking may have birthed in larger cities around the globe, these new versions are popping up in smaller communities as practical options from “solopreneurs” to corporations.
At The CoLounge, members choose a package that best fits their own needs, from a full-time, private office to a single day, just to be at a desk out of the house. There are conference rooms with multimedia capabilities, shared offices for collaborative sessions, and a large open area for special events. While designed for comfort and flexibility, there were no sacrifices made in preserving the important amenities of the traditional office. The CoLounge is wired with high speed Internet and a backup network to prevent any lost connection. The facility has video-monitor security and is accessible only through the use of a registered door key code. Membership also includes surface-level parking at the entrance, printing and copying functions, coffee and water. The biggest advantage of coworking and membership at The CoLounge is that once you’ve signed up, you’re ready to work. All the details have already been handled. In addition, The CoLounge works when you work, meaning members have access to start their mornings off early at 6:00am or if you’re more of a ‘burn the late-night oil’ worker you can stay till 10:00pm.
However, it’s more than just offices – it’s the chance for personal interaction, to create meaningful connections with our community. The widespread isolation that occurred during the pandemic reminded everyone of the value of physical connection – just being around others is instrumental. The CoLounge’s flexible space offers endless opportunities from pop-up shops, styled shoots, workshops and seminars as well as business collaborations and meetings and special occasion gatherings. Hosts of a variety of events can bring their own food and drink to be enjoyed in the inviting décor and ambiance of The CoLounge.
The way we work isn’t changing…it’s already changed. As the only boutique coworking and event venue in Fairlawn, The CoLounge provides the space to meet the evolved needs of the community.
The CoLounge is holding an Open House on July 15th from 9:00 am to 1:00 pm to introduce their coworking model to the community and to show how this local, female-owned business is empowering others to grow their networks and succeed on their own terms.