Insights from a Suburban Pioneer, Pt. 2: When Coworking Meets Parenting, Everyone Wins

In last week’s episode of Everything Coworking, host Jamie Russo interviewed Mara Hauser (25N CEO + Founder) on the ins and outs of an emerging market and subject close to our hearts: suburban coworking. Read on for Mara’s perspective on the challenges (and unique opportunities) that coworking outside of the big-city limits can present—from corporate coworking and growing small-town economies to advice on opening a suburban workspace for yourself.

Working Moms + Dads Find Common Ground in Community

J: I know you live in the suburbs, but I want you to talk more about your passion for doing this in the suburbs—you have kind of a particular model about focusing on more vibrant downtown locations.

M: So, right, living in the suburbs… there aren’t always the most inspiring or innovative workspaces to go—only coffee shops or libraries or hotels, that kind of thing. But I was a working mom, always have been, and I always thought it was important to be able to do things with your family and within your community as well.

 There has to be more people like me who would love this opportunity—both men and women.

So the idea really came from finding a downtown suburban location that had been, maybe, under-utilized or that needed some assistance with economic development, and putting in a workspace that would be vibrant, that would drive hundreds of people to the downtown area on a consistent basis, not just every once and awhile, and giving the people who work there a place close to home where they can go, be inspired, yet still go to the soccer game after school, go to a PTA meeting, go have lunch with your friends or neighbors—and then go back to work. We have tons of other moms who have found this invigorating to their careers and to their work-life balance: we have moms who stay home in the morning and get their kids off to school, then come in to work at 25N, then head back home to meet their kids when they get off the bus, and then, maybe later, come back to work once their kids are occupied with after-school activities. So it’s really something that I had this vision for, obviously using myself as an example, but really thinking, “there has to be more people like me who would love this opportunity—both men and women.”

 I think interweaving that community component has so much power in a suburban location, a component that doesn’t quite have the same potential in an urban location.

J: I think the opportunity for a suburban coworking community is so strong and different from urban locations, because in urban locations, you get people from all over, who probably don’t live next to each other and share that connection, and, in the suburbs, people share a lot of connections: their kids may go to the same school, they may use the same bank, they may get their nails done at the same salon… just a lot of things in common. And you are extending that connection. They may not know each other yet, but they already have common ground. I think interweaving that community component has so much power in a suburban location, a component that doesn’t quite have the same potential in an urban location.

M: I absolutely agree. And the thing, too, in suburban locations is that people are there for longer—so the retention is better—but, besides that, the word spreads faster. People say, “Hey, I’m at this great workspace and I’m really productive,” or they’ll find out that a friend has the ability to work from home and will say, “I work right in our community, you should join me” and it’s something for them to be proud of.

Next: Insights from a Suburban Pioneer, Pt. 3: Workspace Where You Live

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