March 17, 2009

Boulder: Hotelephant Office + Cafe = Green Entrepreneurs Club. 12 spots open.

Hotelephant, combining the best of Cafe, Home & Office into a Green Club. 12 Spots open. Includes Mindful Marketplace ad

From early thoughts via an email with a friend:

“I’m actually thinking about keeping the house under the original vision—as a sort of half office, half cafe elephant club by day. Folks who like cafe atmosphere (cool green/mindful colleagues, entrepreneurs, good coffee and tea and environment) but want fast wireless and some degree of chill (library atmosphere) will pay [300] a month for Marketplace ad—and, if they like, a first-come, first-served spot in Hotelephant weekdays, between 9-5 only, no weekends. Cheap as cafes [if you consider tea/coffee/snackage], far cheaper than offices, anyone can apply but not everyone will be accepted. Must be crazy about being eco-responsible, as I don’t want to mind people’s habits.

This was all suggested to me by some acquaintances, as a sort of reminder and they said they’d want to do it. If they don’t have a business to advertise, they can donate to a friend business. It would be extremely casual–no lease, no contracts, no written or verbal agreements–it’d just be like a club, they can drop by when they want. No storage here, they take what they bring. No visitors, or meetings. No mail. Simple. Folks who bike daily get a few yoga classes as bonus, but there’s plenty of street parking. No printer, no fax, no landline. An intern or elephant staffer, paid with their fees, would help serve as PT receptionist. Watchu think?”

When I first bought my home, an old Victorian in downtown Boulder, the idea was to use it as a home office for my staff, which I did for the first and third years. In between, I rented a downtown Victorian with two like-minded companies, and found the whole experience of a conventional office conventionally rewarding, but expensive, and superfluous in most ways. Now that elephant magazine has gone online 100%, and I’m working at home again with a newly small staff, I’m feeling a bit selfish…like I’ve got a nice big house with superfast wireless and, though it’s been greenovated from top (insulation in attic) to almost bottom (xeriscape, plumbing). It’s not green, no matter how low I keep the heat when I’m alone, or how little electricity I use (that’s offset, too, by my solar installation in the backyard)…to have a big house all to my self. So I’m going to offer it at a club, ala Workspace or The Hub.

Taking the best of an office (fast wireless, professional atmosphere centering around getting work done, some networking) and a cafe (lots of networking, nice aesthetics, mobile, good tea / coffee) and combining them in a home environment, Club Hotelephant will be open to anyone who applies and is green, mindfulness-minded. That means no printer, fax on premises. That means shoes off at door. That means toilet lid down, water used only carefully and sparingly, everything recycled and composted that can be, lights and wireless and plug-strips turned off whenever possible. Not from a point of view of ‘rules,’ but rather ‘inspiration’—meaning if anyone doesn’t like doing any of these things, I mean actually enjoy doing these things, Club Hotelephant ain’t for you. That would include any guests coming for meetings under your invitation—shoes off, etc. It’s my home, and I want to keep things simple.

Because my home is not zoned for an office, no one will pay rent. No one will get dedicated space. In that sense it’ll just continue to be my home—drop in, or not, whenever you feel like it. Spaces, seats, desks, rooms are first come, first serve. We’ll have lots of BBQs and parties and socials in the summer, outside of working hours. Prices will be substantially lower than Work Space of Hubs, because I won’t be offering espresso (unless someone has a machine) or a receptionist, printer or fax or dedicated meeting space (although rooms upstairs can be used for meetings).

  • Only 20 people will be accepted at any time, to make sure that we don’t have more than say 12 at any one time. A library-like atmosphere inside will be encouraged—no loud voices, phone calls…make phone calls outside or in private room. I’m here to work, not manage people.
  • Individual offices downtown range from $250 to $650, often not including extras like electricity, wireless, toilet paper, coffee, tea. I will be covering all that. I’ll also be including a Marketplace ad, which will help your web site in Google rankings (or be directed to your email, if you don’t have a site). Professional folks at cafes typically spend 10 – 20 bucks per four or five hour stay, which ads up and involves moving around a lot for electricity, slow connections, but fun if loud atmosphere.
  • $300 a month ($10/day including ad) for visitation priveleges Monday-Friday 9-5 plus Marketplace ad. No storage. Only for green-crazy, work-focused, mindful-inspired people. If you want to join, please email [email protected] with info about yourself, whether or not you dig the quiet, green, collective environment I want to create and maintain with minimal fuss here, and if all sounds good we’ll put you in touch with elephant’s accountant, Samara, so you can prepay one month at a time and get your Marketplace ad going.

Via Workspace, a fancier (and relatively pricey) version of this in Vancouver: 

WorkSpace is a shared work environment in downtown Vancouver. Our Gastown loft has meeting rooms, a lounge & a café surrounding a beautiful open concept work environment. We provide memberships (not leases) to independent professionals and small firms looking for a better place to work.


Inspired by the trend of working in cafés, WorkSpace is a shared office unlike any other.  

An increasing number of people are working independently, whether it be for themselves or for their employers.  In our age of cell phones and laptops, we have the freedom to work from almost anywhere. Given that choice, you’re not likely to choose a cubicle.

WorkSpace is managed more like a club than an office.  The difference is that we have members instead of tenants, so there’s no need to sign a lease or deal with landlords.  Our staff takes care of all the details, so our members can focus on being productive.  WorkSpace is a place where people can be more creative, more effective and happier with their workday.


Joining WorkSpace is much like joining a club.  Unlike packaged offices, you can pinpoint your needs and choose your membership accordingly.  There are no additional fees, everything from your morning mocha to boardroom meetings are included.

Monthly Rates [at Vancouver Workspace]

After Work                                                                          
After 4:30 on weekdays, all day Saturday and Sunday……………………….$95

Any one business day per week and ‘After Work’…………………………….$195

Part Time
Any two business days per week and ‘After Work’……………………………$345

Full Time
Twenty-four hours a day, seven days per week………………………………$495

Personal Desk
Your own exclusive workstation………………………………………………….$595


My central, original inspiration: The Hub, in London, which I featured in elephant magazine a year or so ago, and which has now spread to Halifax and many other locations. 



Via The Economist:

The fact that people are no longer tied to specific places for functions such as studying or learning, says Mr Mitchell, means that there is “a huge drop in demand for traditional, private, enclosed spaces” such as offices or classrooms, and simultaneously “a huge rise in demand for semi-public spaces that can be informally appropriated to ad-hoc workspaces”. This shift, he thinks, amounts to the biggest change in architecture in this century. In the 20th century architecture was about specialised structures—offices for working, cafeterias for eating, and so forth. This was necessary because workers needed to be near things such as landline phones, fax machines and filing cabinets, and because the economics of building materials favoured repetitive and simple structures, such as grid patterns for cubicles.

The new architecture, says Mr Mitchell, will “make spaces intentionally multifunctional”. This means that 21st-century aesthetics will probably be the exact opposite of the sci-fi chic that 20th-century futurists once imagined. Architects are instead thinking about light, air, trees and gardens, all in the service of human connections. Buildings will have much more varied shapes than before. For instance, people working on laptops find it comforting to have their backs to a wall, so hybrid spaces may become curvier, with more nooks, in order to maximise the surface area of their inner walls, rather as intestines do. This is becoming affordable because computer-aided design and new materials make non-repetitive forms cheaper to build.

Who needs a desk?

The effect already reaches far beyond university campuses and is causing upheaval in the commercial-property industry. Debra Moritz, a director at Jones Lang LaSalle, a firm that helps companies to manage their office buildings and consults on property investments, says that the total area devoted to traditional office space has begun to decline, although slowly. This is because “inefficiency is more obvious as workers become mobile,” she says. According to Jones Lang LaSalle’s research, workers are at their desks, on average, less than 40% of their time (Ms Moritz ditched her own desk long ago). This does not mean that office space will drop by 60%. But it does mean that office designers are thinking about using space better.

There will be more “on-demand spaces” and “drop-in centres”, says Ms Moritz, with flexible layouts that facilitate collaboration. Within a typical office building, the area devoted to solitary work, such as the cubicles immortalised in Dilbert cartoons, will shrink. Internal walls and furniture are becoming movable. More space is given to communal areas, some of which are distinguished not by their function but by their etiquette—loud or quiet, say—as in libraries.



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