By Justin Biel, trends editor at Grow Wire
⏰ 4-minute read
Colorado coworking spaces are finding success by gearing themselves toward the outdoor proclivities of the state’s remote workforce.
Brands of note include Battery621, Blue Arrow and Green Spaces, which celebrate the uniqueness of their tenants and facilitate outdoor adventure.
Ski towns might soon see more coworking spaces when a coworking brand’s founding duo takes its show on the road.
A rising number of remote workers is changing the face of work nationwide, and Colorado is no exception.
However, the state’s workforce is uniquely active, both in the office and out. The capital city of Denver is both a consistent contender for “top U.S. cities for entrepreneurs” and home to more physically active residents than most others.
As such, Colorado’s coworking spaces reflect their clients’ desire for balance between work and play. Whereas spaces in other parts of the country tend to focus more on career advancement, Colorado’s encourage adventure. Their geographic locations and community cultures provide opportunities to get into the outdoors, and they’ve become an industry all their own.
“An ideal place to work”
Consider Battery621, a coworking space in the Santa Fe Arts District of Denver. The space is the creation of Mike Artz and Frank Phillips, a pair of outdoor enthusiasts, businessmen and close friends who met decades ago while working together at Burton Snowboards.
Artz and Phillips launched Battery621 in 2010, with partners Ellen and Jason Winkler and a goal to build an ideal place to work. Inspired by their time spent adventuring and love for the outdoors, the founders developed the space “as their mountain away from home,” according to the brand website.
The space comprises a two-story, industrial building with a variety of office sizes for rent, a large communal area and a rooftop deck. (Battery621 doesn’t offer memberships for individuals, but rather company tenants apply for a branded workspace.)
Battery621 is a coworking space in Denver with a rooftop for events.
A common vibe
Artz and Phillips recruited Battery621’s first tenant companies, which included big names from the outdoor industry like Icelantic Skis and Spyder along with The Public Works, the duo’s design, fabrication and multi-media marketing firm.
Today, tenants span many industries including staffing, technology, consumer products, media and creative.
They may have different lines of work, but they share similar characteristics.
“All our tenants are doing something new, avant-garde and working in undiscovered territory,” explained community manager Bailey Jensen. “... Companies need to align with the Battery vibe.”
For example, Waste Farmers is a regenerative holding and operating company that works exclusively with businesses that address social and environmental needs. Another tenant, Golfkicks, turns sneakers into cleated golf shoes with the help of a proprietary mounting system. Virtual reality companies and media firms also rent offices in the space.
Unlike some other coworking spaces, Battery621 puts emphasis on its brands. Each company within its walls has a uniquely designed space that feels authentic.
Work begets adventure
And here, work is not always the top priority.
“Claiming how many hours a week you work is not a metric of success,” the website states. “Being productive, creative and a great community member leads to hard work, and hard work leads to the next great adventure.”
Instead of networking mixers, Battery621 plans excursion to local ski mountains or screens the latest outdoor documentaries. It has partnerships with community organizations like First Descents, a nonprofit that uses “the healing power of adventure” to positively impact those affected by cancer, which tenants are encouraged to support.
Members at Battery621 enjoy outdoor adventures together.
Coworking, ski-town style
Sometimes, the curation of coworking tenants is more happenstance than planned.
Austin Gray and Jayson Harris live in Winter Park, CO, a ski-town 67 miles west of Denver. They first met at The Perk, a local coffee shop which Harris owned and Gray frequented as a remote worker for Hewlett-Packard.
“I was spending a lot of time working at The Perk,” explained Gray. “I started to feel like I was overstaying my welcome.”
Gray and Harris became fast friends and soon realized there were many other remote workers in their mountain town who didn’t want to work at home but had nowhere else to go. To them, a coworking space was much-needed. They met with local businesses owners, city council members and even the mayor to determine what the tight-knit community thought of the idea.
Encouraged by the positive response, they developed Blue Arrow, the first coworking space in Winter Park. Shortly after, they took over a sustainably-focused coworking space in Denver called Green Spaces.
Blue Arrow is a coworking space in the ski town of Winter Park.
Capitalizing on culture
Winter Park--which USA Today ranked best ski resort in North America this year--is a growing community with plenty of visitors.
“More professionals are spending time in the mountains,” said Gray. “People are looking for a way to access to the outdoors without sacrificing their work.”
Blue Arrow has capitalized on the mix, offering desks to residents, one-time visitors and weekend warriors who visit regularly.
With Blue Arrow in the mountains and Green Spaces in the city, Gray and Harris offer customers the best of both worlds. The spaces currently operate as separate brands but are set to merge later this year, when Blue Arrow will rebrand as a Green Spaces location.
“The goal is to merge our branding and messaging and create a consistent company feel,” explained Harris. “Green Spaces has great brand awareness in Denver, and the image aligns perfectly with what we’re creating in Winter Park.”
The pair plans to later expand Green Spaces to other mountain towns, too.
The Green Spaces aesthetic is bright and open.
🌱 The bottom line
As remote work becomes more popular, Colorado’s coworking spaces are meeting demand with non-traditional work environments that speak to Coloradans’ unique desire for work-life balance and outdoor access. Consider them a model for the proliferation of coworking hubs to come.
🌱 Keep growing! Follow Grow Wire on Twitter for daily doses of know-how.
📚 More on coworking and remote work:
What We Know After 10+ Years of the ‘Gig Economy’
Camaraderie and Community: An Insider's View of 4 Coworking Spaces
4 Standout Companies Explain How They Manage Remote Workers