Co-working options abound for Milwaukee entrepreneurs

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To witness the burgeoning co-working trend, just pop into a crowded coffee shop. You’ll see both young and old hunkered down over laptops or earnestly discussing a project.

Co-working is defined as people working under the same roof who have different employers. This loosely translates into entrepreneurs, freelancers and startups. As the head of my own communications company, I fall into that category.

According to NAIOP, the Commercial Real Estate Development Association, the number of U.S. co-working spaces has skyrocketed from a single center in 2005 to 781 in 2013, making us the current world leader in co-working centers.

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Why the explosion?

Whether it’s a young entrepreneur with a small studio apartment or someone with a home office who wants to be confident that a conference call won’t be interrupted by a FedEx delivery, more people are redefining their work spaces.

Coffee shops are great for socializing but problematic when you want to create a great impression of your business. There are just too many uncertainties, from being able to find a seat to having to compete for an electrical outlet.

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I have a home office, but occasionally need to leave due to some disruption, and in today’s digital world, it’s easier than ever to pack up and go off-site.

Fortunately, there are options to rent an office by the month, day or even the hour that are easy on the budget. Milwaukeeans are blessed to have a variety of spaces across the metro area in which to work, each with a different atmosphere and amenities.

I was introduced to the Hudson Business Lounge during a networking session. It’s got the fun, funky vibe of the Third Ward that hums with activity. I used a day pass to do some writing and conduct a phone interview in one of the small offices on the second floor.

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The main room downstairs, which is open to all, offers a fireplace, armchairs, tables and a bar that dispenses not only coffee, water and food, but also adult beverages. Colleagues don’t have far to go to blow off steam at the end of the day.

If you want something more permanent, members have the option of renting various-size offices and conference rooms off the lobby, or convening in additional open work spaces.

At Regus, which offers work spaces worldwide, I was surprised by the luxe reception area and the support services available at its Bayshore site.

The day pass there got me an office with plenty of room to spread out and organize my presentation before a meeting. Added bonus: free gourmet coffee and free parking – a sizeable incentive. Although there’s no food sold in Regus, there is a microwave and fridge available for clients, and there’s food aplenty available in the mall.

With a new Regus location now open in the Third Ward, Milwaukeeans have plenty of places to work, make contacts and share creativity.

Sue Pierman owns Pierman Communications LLC in metro Milwaukee.

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