As you may know, I have recently joined the ranks of the remote knowledge worker. When Quality Matters hired me, I made the decision to get an office outside of the house. Since QM does not reimburse for office space, my budget was limited. I decided that it made sense to aim for a solution within the $100-$150 per month price range. After a brief session of searching Duck Duck Go for options, I identified six potential solutions.
Regus Bayshore Town Center Business Center
Regus is a fairly large chain. They advertise that they have 2000 locations in 750 cities. One of those locations, just happens to be fairly close to home. So, I arranged to come in and check the place out. It turns out that they have no actual coworking customers, yet. This means that I would be the only person in the space. Despite that, it did look like a reasonably nice space. The problem is that it was fairly expensive. They charge a base fee of $229 per month. On top of that, they charge separate fees for internet access and access to the kitchen. All told, the monthly fee is much closer to $300 per month. Between the high price and the mandatory contract agreements, I had a very good idea why they lacked any coworking customers.
The next space I looked at was 96square. They call themselves “an 11,000 square foot coworking space for high growth companies located in the historic Blatz Wash House in downtown Milwaukee”. It seemed like an interesting culture and at $110 per month, it was comfortably within the budget. The problem is that they do not seem to actually exist. They do not list any sort of a phone number or email address on their website and they do not seem to be maintaining their social media presence. I tried to contact them via twitter and their webform but I was unable to get a reply out of them. I am guessing that 96square must have recently closed.
I have been to Bucketworks in the past, for events. Bucketworks has been in a number of different physical spaces over the past 10 years. At the moment, it is in the Plankinton Arcade of The Shops of Grand Avenue. Their prices are very reasonable. They charge $75 per month for a hot desk and $125 per month for a dedicated desk. Their location, in the heart of downtown, was nice also. The issue that I had was that it was in a mall. I am not a terribly picky person but I was hoping for a space that was something more than a just former clothing retailer. I do think that Bucketworks is filling an important need within the community but I wanted to work out of a different space.
HUDSON Business Lounge
The Hudson is in the heart of Milwaukee’s third ward. I like the area and frequently walked by the Hudson when I worked at Starkmedia. The Hudson is comfortable and reasonably priced. They charge $100 per month for a full-time level 1 membership. They do offer a 20% discount for non-profits and a 40% discount for start-ups, though. I bought a membership with them and I have been working out of the Hudson for a month, now. It is an incredibly conducive space but it is not without its faults. Parking in the third ward is expensive and difficult. Additionally, the Hudson has been regularly overbilling me for things.
Gravity Connect is a very unique space. It is advertises itself as a “free coffee house.” You submit an application for membership and if they accept it, they send you an electronic access card. Gravity Connect is a completely free service and they even provide free coffee. It is in the historic Pritzlaff building, directly across the river from the third ward. It is a relatively small space but I have never seen it get too busy. It’s primary flaw seems to be how isolated it is. Parking near it is fairly limited.
Ward4 is another one in the Pritzlaff building. As of now, it is not actually open but it is expected to open on April 1st. Ward4’s prices are not listed on their website. I am curious to check it out once it opens.
EDIT (02/14/2015): I sent an application in to Ward4 and their response included their “Founder Rates” for membership. Open Membership is $250 a month (minimum of 12 months required) and Private Office Membership range from $600-$750 a month (minimum of 12 months required) based on size and location. It seemed a tad expensive for me, in my circumstances.
Genius@Work (Added 02/14/2015)
I just recently heard that this place existed. It opened on January 21st. It is located within the Hilton Garden Inn, Milwaukee Downtown. Being on Broadway and Michigan St, it is in a good area. Looking at their website, the space looks less like a coworking space and more like a lounge, though. At $175/mo, it seems too expensive for what it is.
It might seem like our options for coworking in Milwaukee are fairly limited but compared to other cities, we really are doing fairly well. Are you aware of a coworking space that is not in this list? Feel free to drop a comment below.
[Creative commons licensed photo via Mindaugas Danys]