Greater Good Studio is about to reach its one-year anniversary. It’s a very exciting moment for us. And as we’ve heard from many small business owners and entrepreneurs, the first year is the toughest.
As we started to think about our next year’s projections and plans, we realized that we’ve got to keep pushing ourselves to grow in two strategic ways:
1. Grow our presence
2. Grow our impact
To this end, we’ve been working on a plan to tackle the most ambitious project of our careers: designing a new system of maps for the Chicago Transit Authority. We’re going to do so with your help by launching a Kickstarter campaign next month. You’ll be hearing about it non-stop over the next few months (you’ve been warned).
After our successful internship call, we started looking for a space to support our growing team and house our ambitious project. And while we didn’t look at every nook and cranny on offer in Chicago, we soon found that what we needed wasn’t necessarily on offer anywhere.
The latest movement in the office space world is offering desks at co-working spaces. Co-working is more thoroughly defined via WIkipedia here, but the gist of it is that rather than people working all in one space for the same company (like every place I’ve ever worked in), in a co-working space there could be as many companies as there are individuals. There’s a bunch of them listed here for Chicago via Desktime. It’s becoming more popular every week and for many small businesses and entrepreneurs, it’s the next logical step from home office to office-office.
But what we found was that co-working spaces are mainly catering to individuals. Each place we discovered offered spaces built around a ‘rent a desk’ pricing model, anywhere from an introductory price of $200 per desk/month to the more typical $500 per desk/month.
And we saw that most of these co-working spaces offered auxiliary setups for client meetings, conference rooms as well as areas for hosting events. Funnily enough, in our minds, this open, flexible space was exactly what we were looking for in a primary workspace. Something that most places would consider to be a free perk, we were trying to pay for!
Maybe it’s the nature of the tech industry, but many co-working spaces are occupied for individuals looking for simply a desk. Since high-speed internet is becoming a basic utility like water and electricity, a place to rest your laptop and store your stuff might be all you need to be productive. But for innovation projects, so much of what we do is collaborative that a space to be together really matters.
We’ve been fortunate enough to work in these kinds of spaces at IDEO offices globally, at Doblin, at Continuum and at Gravity Tank. So naturally, when we think of working on projects, we think of “project bays.” One bay per project. Filled to the brim with white boards covered in post-it notes, photos from research, scraps of paper with brainstorm sketches, and a thousands little bits of vital project ephemera. What we were looking for was:
A space for teams. Not individuals.
A space to talk easily, share quickly and stand around a wall together.
A space to decorate, modify and transform during the course of a project.
A space for our team to walk in and feel like their project has come to life.
When we first heard about an amazing new loft in our neighborhood, at the newly-minted Logan Square Design Building, we encountered some of the same initial confusion over this atypical request. But after explaining the highly team-focused nature of our CTA Map project to our new co-working neighbors (design studio Bright Bright Great) they got on board and we brokered a new kind of deal.
We think that the future of co-working spaces will be less about the individual, more about the team. A place where you go specifically to work together with others on projects. Places where working in groups of 3 or more are supported and encouraged. Surfaces are rounded so you can pull up a chair. Walls are pinnable, tackable, stickable, write-able. Noise level fluctuates with the energy in the room. Rooms can reconfigure as team members, users and clients come and go. Perhaps one day we will design the ultimate team-working space.
But for now, we now have an extremely exciting blank slate—a big table, a bunch of chairs, a ton of sunlight and some awesome walls—where we can tackle highly complex projects, now and in the future, as a team. We are immensely proud to have found this new space and we can’t wait to get to work in it!
Welcome to Greater Good Studio, 2864 N. Milwaukee Ave, Chicago, IL 60618. Come say hello sometime.