Imagining Suburban Shared Workspace
The hot, new urban trend of shared workspace—where freelancers and other work-from-anywhere types band together to rent access to cubicles, printers, conference rooms, and break-room chatter—had been slow to gain momentum in the suburbs. But that was before Sleepy Hollow resident Jenifer Ross customized her Tarrytown business, W@tercooler, and brought the trend home.
“Aside from one other co-working space in Hastings, we are the only facility in Westchester,” Ross says. “We combine under one roof all of the various resources that an independent worker needs. Aside from the desk, the WiFi, and the supplies, we also provide the community knowledge-sharing, networking, unexpected collaborations, referral opportunities, and that boosted daily energy that can only come from a shared space.”
In addition, W@tercooler offers an intern program staffed by Sleepy Hollow High School and ES International Academy students, free services for the unemployed every Monday, an established discount program for downtown businesses, and a hub for workshops, presentations, and events like “Reiki for Busy People” and “The Art of the Tattoo” that might, in another time, have taken place in a church basement or a community center.
One year after it opened its doors, W@tercooler has seen growth, signing up 60 members and often filling up the space with conferences and events—and expansion is already on the horizon. Ross wants W@atercooler to become the model for boutique suburban co-working in Westchester, and maybe beyond, and says she is already beginning to look at spaces in White Plains, Ossining, Mount Kisco, and Bronxville based on both investor/partner interest and projected community support.
“It is the new way of working, Ross says. “Keeping it fresh and lively in the ’burbs is essential.”