News & Features

Working Alone, Together

New co-working space opens in Whitefish for freelancers, remote employees and others who work from home

WHITEFISH — There are benefits to working from home: No leaving in the morning, you don’t have to wear pants if you don’t want to, and interacting with other people isn’t necessary unless you seek it out.

There are also drawbacks to working from home: No leaving in the morning, you don’t have to wear pants if you don’t want to, and interacting with people isn’t necessary unless you seek it out.

Working from home can be a productive option, and it’s one that is becoming more popular in America. According to data from the U.S. Census, 5.2 percent of all workers in the country worked from home in 2017, equaling about 8 million people. That’s a 5 percent increase from 2016.

And a two-year study from Stanford University found that people who work from home turn in more full days of work a week than those who come into the office, and find it less distracting and easier to concentrate at home.

The internet has also made this an option for more people than ever. Drew Fortner was one of these people, running his business, Alaska Shore Tours, from home. But Fortner found he wanted a place to go to differentiate his home life and his work life, an office that isn’t necessarily just for his business, but has space for him to work.

Co-working spaces have popped up in cities across the United States, places with rentable desk space, conference rooms, and a community feel. Fortner thought such a space could open in the condominium above Loula’s Café here.

Old Town Creative owned it, and this spring, the company put the space up for sale. Fortner snapped it up.

“I kept waiting for (a co-working space) to open in Whitefish; I got sick of working at home,” Fortner said last week, standing in his new business, Basecamp Coworking. “I’d seen this space a couple of years ago, so it was on my radar.”

After a bit of remodeling to take down walls and open up the space further, Basecamp now has ample areas for people who need it. There are several tiers of membership, Fortner said.

First, there is “hot desk” open seating for daily users, visitors, and people who just want to drop in with a laptop. A day pass is $25, and a monthly membership is $200. These plans have access to the space from Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., as well as free coffee and tea. They also receive credits to use the conference room and have access to a private phone call booth.

The next tier is the dedicated desks, where for $325 a month people can leave equipment and monitors behind and use a lockable filing cabinet. These plans have access to the co-working space seven days a week, 7 a.m. to 6 p.m., and also receive conference room credit. They can also use Basecamp as a business address and for mail.

The top tier is the private office choice. For $600 a month, this membership can access the building 24/7 with a furnished, locking office. They receive discounted memberships for additional hot desk members, and also receive discounted guest passes. They can also bring in their dogs upon behavior approval.

Basecamp opened on Sept. 1, and since then, about 15 of the 25 available spaces have been snapped up, according to marketing and membership coordinator Cara Lederman.

“It works for introverts and for extroverts, because you can choose where you work,” Lederman said. “And you can network with other members.”

Building a community is one of the main goals at Basecamp, Fortner said. They plan on hosting events and mixers so their clients can get to know one another if they so desire.

The area has drop ceilings, and above those ceilings is about 8 to 10 feet of more space, Fortner said. If they decide to expand, which seems plausible, they’d likely go up and build more private offices.

Basecamp is fully wired for online business — “There’s about a mile of Ethernet in the walls, and I had a fiber-optic line installed when I bought it,” Fortner said — and all of the memberships come with access to the kitchen area.

They’ve had a nice reception from the community, Fortner said, and held an open house on Nov. 8.

“The space becoming available was a catalyst,” Fortner said.

For more information on Basecamp Coworking, visit www.basecampwhitefish.com or call (406) 558-2567.

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