After Melissa Cronin moved to Palm Springs, she spent five years working remotely at home for a digital publishing company in New York City.
While she could focus on her work without many interruptions, the occasional noise from neighbors could distract her workflow or infiltrate a professional phone call. And when your home is also your workplace, it can be difficult to draw a line between the two.
“It’s hard when you work from home — for me and I’ve heard from other people — to focus in the same way on what you're doing, and have a separation between work life and home life so you don't end up working 24 hours a day, which is kind of what I did,” she said.
Fast forward about five years, and Cronin and her fiancé Mark Anderson have co-founded The Hive, a new coworking space on Tahquitz Canyon Way just east of Sunrise Way. Small business owners, entrepreneurs and remote workers have increasingly looked to coworking spaces around the country as a way to have a workplace environment without the cost of their own office space.
Anderson and Cronin also run BuzzFactory, a marketing firm, and Honey Printing, which specializes in digital printing, out of the same location.
“Our vision was always to help other businesses grow,” said Anderson, who founded BuzzFactory more than a decade ago. “When we thought about The Hive and co-working, it seemed like a natural extension.”
The Hive isn't the first coworking space to come to the desert — the Palm Springs Chamber of Commerce, for example, founded its space after a remodel about two years ago — but it's part of a growing trend. Allwork, an online news publication that focuses on flexible workplaces like coworking spaces and businesses, estimates there are around 35,000 such workspaces in the world.
The Hive is a 5,000-square-foot space that formerly housed Anderson Travel, which was founded by Anderson’s mother in the 1960s and has consolidated its operations at another location. The light, airy space is filled with mid-century modern inspired office furniture, teal couches accented with textiles, and a couple pops of neon — “Bee Well” and “Bee Great” — on the walls.
The space includes “hot desks” — or rentable space available for $25 daily drop-ins or varying monthly plans. Mid-century-style wood walls divide the main room into semi-private areas that contain dedicated desks, available at $550 a month. Private offices range from $650 to $810 a month, while two suites are available for $1,995 and $2,150 a month.
Members will have access to a kitchen stocked with free nitro coffee. Some memberships come with the use of a conference room space. AsThe Hive gets off the ground, Cronin said they plan to host networking and lifestyle events.
If members need business cards, banners or flyers, they will get deals from Honey Printing.
“We care a lot about having an authentic place for people to come and be who they are, but also helping people grow or meet their goals as well,” Anderson said. “This is coming from a place of wanting to see people succeed.”
Interested parties can set up a time to tour The Hive via the website, or head to an open house on Jan. 23 from 3 to 6 p.m.
So far, The Hive has already landed a couple members, plus drop-ins from travelers working remotely who sought out a coworking space for reliable internet and a quiet place to work. In addition to local business owners, Anderson and Cronin anticipate participation from seasonal residents who may be looking for a different location to get work done while in town on long stays.
One of The Hive’s first members is Ryan Berkowitz, who works as an independent financial planner and business consultant. He lives in Palm Springs, and has worked in a variety of office settings — from home offices to the highrises of Los Angeles.
Working out of The Hive allows him to have a professional space to meet with clients, he said.
“It allows me to display my professionalism when I need to, but also feel casual and comfortable,” he said. “That makes the workday a lot faster and more enjoyable."
Nona Watson, the CEO of the Palm Springs Chamber of Commerce, brought co-working to Palm Springs about two years ago. She pitched the board on creating a co-working space coupled with a renovation of the Chamber’s building. Now the space has private office space and hot desks, giving members mountain views and a convenient downtown location.
Rates start at $25 for a drop-in and go to about $500 or $600 a month. Members there also get benefits like invitations to Chamber events and mixers that can help them plug into the community.
Watson says the members often collaborate, as the space is open enough for someone who wants a listening ear to find one and carries a creative energy. Members at the Chamber's office have included construction companies in the run-up to getting a trailer on their site, to informational technology pros.
"There's all different kinds of people that don't really need to sit at a desk in an office and punch in," Watson said. "I think a co-work space is a perfect answer for that."
Another co-working space is slated to open in downtown Palm Springs in 2020 that Watson is working on with Grit Development’s Michael Braun. The space will have eight offices plus desks above the West Elm on Palm Canyon Drive.
The Coachella Valley Economic Partnership's Joe Wallace said coworking can be a difficult business model for companies that don't own the building — carving up a small space may generate just enough to cover the lease.
He said the concept is still untested, pointing to the debacle of WeWork. That company's coworking spaces helped take the concept mainstream but the company wound up having to pull its initial public offering after filings showed significant losses, which raised eyebrows around its high valuation.
"I think there's a balance of what people are willing to pay, and what landlords need to keep their doors open," he said.
But in the case of Cronin and Anderson, who have local ties and are experienced in working with small businesses, they're optimistic that the "creator class" of the Coachella Valley — those who are starting their own companies — will benefit from The Hive's offerings.
Coworking offers convenience and amenities, plus the lack of utility or property expenses that might come with traditional office rental. Often, coworking space members don't need to make a long-term commitment. But it's not always cheaper than rent for one's own individual office.
Office space in Palm Springs has a range of prices, like The Abbey Center on South Farrell Drive that has spaces available ranging from about $870 for a 501-square-foot space to more than $3,500 for a space of 2,045 square feet. A 1,756-square-foot suite on East Palm Canyon Drive by Ralph's goes for $1,032 a month, while available units in the mid-century NOIA Building on Tahquitz Canyon Way go for $658 for a 329-square-foot space or $1,008 a month for a 504-square-foot room, according to the commercial real estate website LoopNet.
Not everyone wants to work from home — and not everyone wants a traditional office, Cronin said.
"The workforce in the United States is changing so much," Cronin said, "especially here in Palm Springs, where there are so many people who have the ability to do a non-traditional work environment."
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