Just entering the space felt very refreshing and easy. I went past the very attractive entrance to Gathered Collaborative store at street level, then up the wide gentle stairs to what was a light and airy space with different offices.
I was greeted by one of the users, Shannon, who welcomed me and showed where she worked at her desk space; and gave me a tour of other office space including the well-equipped meeting room, and coffee and hospitality area. The whole atmosphere was spacious, relaxed yet purposeful, even business like.
I had come to The Common Room in Albert Street, Whitianga’s only shared co-working space, with high-speed internet, printing facilities, a conference room, private office spaces and shared work areas.
We asked the owners, Tracey and Kelly, what Inspired them to establish The Common Room.
“A co-working space is something we had identified as being missing in town and two years ago, when we took on the lease in Albert Street for Gathered Collaborative, the upstairs was a part of that, so we decided it had to happen! We have both lived in bigger cities and we had the desire to see some of the aspects of creative city life here in our growing seaside town. Our vision statement is simple; we choose to provide an inclusive and relaxed work space for likeminded, working creatives who respect, support and encourage one another.”
It was easy to see the benefits of such a space. The calm aesthetic makes it easy to concentrate and get work done, while at the same time there are plenty of opportunities to be sociable, network and bounce ideas off others. There was an obvious choice to either work in a co-working space, or hire the meeting room for private work or gatherings, or even work on the landing area which is also a common space. Adding up the spaces, there are a quite a few: two private work office spaces and one of these has just become available to rent; a co-working office with 6 desks; "The Landing" mentioned above accommodates four on more of an informal setting with a bar leaner and stools, and then there is the meeting room which can accommodate from 8 up to 30 people depending on what kind of event you are running.
Tracey enthuses, “Our bright and light meeting room is available by the hour so this is often booked and used by groups, organisations, and businesses both local and out of town. It is also a lovely space to to hold small events or workshops. To date we have had conferences, fundraising events, macrame workshops, a yoga retreat and photo shoots to name a few.”
This is obviously something needed particularly in a town that has surges of population growth throughout the year and people are both working and on holiday. Many people who work from home sometimes have a need for office space, high speed internet, or facilities for printing whilst they work or they need that extra space for a project for a scheduled period of time, days or weeks; the Common Room is a very attractive option for this need. The range of people who currently reside in the space include art curator, psychologist, counsellors, architects, and designers.
Tracey adds, "We are definitely filling a gap in the community and creating a beautiful and empowering space that people want to be a part of. I don’t know about you, but for me, working from home can be fairly unproductive! We can be constantly distracted by unimportant things. We both love working alongside other people and love the energy, ideas, motivation and productivity that comes from being around others and we believe Whitianga is ready for what we offer.”
We asked, what more would they Iike to add to The Common Room.
“We are constantly trying to streamline the systems for both members and casuals to make working in The Common Room as easy and stress free as possible. And being very specific, a Smart TV in the meeting room is underway and to hold more community events - who knows really, we are always dreaming and scheming.
When asked what has been their biggest challenge, “Covid has been our biggest challenge - but day to day, just people not doing their dishes and bringing donuts in all the time. Ha Ha!” Seriously though, we challenge ourselves to see more people living their dreams and doing work they love and succeeding at it. That’s what The Common Room is about!”
For the month of September, Tracey and Kelly are offering 50% off all new bookings in the meeting rooms and co-working bookings using the code 50INFORMER.