This is the fourth in a series of features covering a workday at one of Denver's many coworking or collaborative office spaces. Previous columns have covered Green Spaces Colorado, Galvanize and Battery621.
I arrive at Shift Workspaces
, tucked away on a mostly residential block in Alamo Placita.
Brian Lantzy gives me the grand tour. He explains that Wheelhouse Apartments
and Boutique Apartments
needed more office space, so in 2010 the sister companies bought the buildings, formerly occupied by a photo studio and a custom frame shop.
"We were trying to figure out what to do with the leftover space," says Lantzy. "We studied emerging trends in how people want to work." Shift is a hybrid of executive suites and coworking, he says. "We merged the two concepts," he says.
Spread over three floors of two buildings, the slickly decorated space has common coworking space, private desks, cubicles and 25 office suites ranging from 63 square feet to 270 square feet. Amenities include conference rooms, a sizable gym for members (with free yoga classes twice a week) and a nice outdoor courtyard (and a rooftop deck on the way). There's also a restaurant tenant, Waffle Bros. in the complex for all of your waffle-based dietary needs.
The original plan for shift was a real-estate-centric, coworking-style space, but the appeal was broader -- there are architects and plenty of real-estate types alongside tech startups, app-makers, graphic designers and a personal trainer.
Lantzy splits his time between Shift and Boutique/Wheelhouse, which have 1,300 units in 42 apartment buildings in Denver. He says there's a lot of competencies that cross over from apartments into coworking. "We have experience operating -- and this is an operation," says Lantzy.
We continue to make the rounds. "We wanted to make it funky and modern, but warm," says Boutique/Wheelhouse President Grant Barnhill, who designed the interior.
Coworking is a new concept, adds Lantzy, and the rules are being written and rewritten. "I went to the national coworking conference in Austin in March," says Lantzy. "The experts on stage, most of them had been open for two years."
Now that Lantzy is becoming an expert himself, there could be more coworking-style spaces in the Boutique/Wheelhouse future. "We're actively looking at other places," he says.
10 a.m.Shift Workspaces spans two buildings.
I get settled in a chair in the coworking area with a cup of a coffee and get to work. I make a few calls but mostly surf the Internet. It's notably quiet and conducive to working, but I resist productivity.
I talk to Matt Bernier, a recruiter with Technical Integrity
and the entrepreneur behind The Startup Shirt
. He's worked from Shift since midwinter and likes it as a nice middle ground between his home office and meetings downtown. "I bounce around between things," he says. "When I come downtown, it's an hour to get home.
"It's good. I know a couple of people here but not so many I'm distracted all day."
All this fake work is making me hungry.
I head next door to have lunch at Waffle Brothers
. I go with a Diablo sandwich on a toasted waffle.
My order arrives. It is huge. It is awesome. Pepperoncini and turkey and chipotle corn relish piled high on a toasted waffle.
I can't believe I ate the whole thing. I walk around the block and make it back to my spot at Shift. There's a bit more activity here now.
I sit down outside for an interview with Brian Parks of Brandfolder
Back at my spot inside, I'm determined to do some honest work. I finish a story on backpacking routes
for the Zagat Travel Blog as Cake plays quietly in the background.
I talk to the only other people currently working in the coworking area, Crystal Barry and Margaux Wood. Both work for Boutique Apartments. Wood says she likes coming over to the coworking area to work on solo projects. "When we need to work by ourselves, we come over here," she tells me. "A lot of people use it as a creative hub. There's really nothing like it in the area."
I scan Boing Boing
to keep up on the latest breaking news.
I meet with Bitcount
's Matt Finn, an app-maker who has a small office downstairs but likes to work out of the common space. "It's scary down there in the basement," he laughs.
Finn shows me a music app he's currently developing. He's the brains behind apps like Cleartune
, a top-selling tuner app, and StagePass
, allowing you to port MP3s through the acoustics of a variety of legendary live venues. His current project, an effects pedal for the next generation, looks and sounds fantastic. He says he's also working on a Jerry Garcia app with the late musician's management company.
3:30 p.m.The activity calendar at Shift Workspaces.
I speak briefly with Jonathan Anderson of UX Magazine
. "It's a collection of companies related to each other," he says of the user experience-focused group.
Three to six employees work from Shift on a given day, he adds. "We like it. It's nice to have a plug-and-play space where you don't have to worry about coffee or utilities or anything."
There's a BMA Colorado
meeting in the coworking space. I do my last phone interview of the day.
The chatter builds. I lose focus on even my fake work. It's time for me to quit.
"Thanks," says Lantzy on my way out.
"Thanks for having me."
I walk to my car. A lone raindrop falls.