• Nicole Vasquez

Coworking Around Chicago: An Inside Look at COCO, Platform Ravenswood & mox.E

Updated: Nov 4, 2018

In the age of Airbnb and Uber, people are sharing their homes, their cars, and now they’re sharing workspaces. Chicago has seen a boom in “coworking spaces” due to the rapidly growing rate of remote workers, creative professionals, startups, and people who can work from any place with a solid wifi signal.

Coworking spaces provide a solution to the isolation and distraction of working from home, offer an escape from fighting for a table at Starbucks, and are more affordable than renting your own office. Additionally, coworking spaces are known to be breeding grounds for cross-industry collaboration and networking that happens naturally due to daily interaction with other professionals.

Yet coworking is not a one-size-fits-all industry. Coworking spaces, like neighborhoods in Chicago, each have their own unique personality, environment, services, and amenities. A space’s ownership, location, and partnerships can also play a role in its offerings to members, and many are actively involved in their local communities.

For Small Businesses & West Loopers

COCO West Loop (1046 W. Kinzie, Chicago IL 60642)

A Minnesota brand with Midwestern friendliness in a brightly lit, converted warehouse

Perfect For: Steady small businesses, growing companies not constantly hunting for funding, and West Loop residents wanting a contemporary office with a homey vibe.

Not A Good Fit For: Anyone but Blue Line or bus commuters. COCO is tucked away on West Kinzie street, and the only CTA station somewhat nearby is the Grand Blue Line.

Environment: COCO’s dog-friendly policy means you’ll likely be greeted by a playful furry friend upon arrival, followed by a Community Manager with an equally as friendly, welcome-to-our-home approach.

With amenities like a centrally-located full kitchen, a shower, and multiple rooms connected by hallways dotted with cozy lounge chairs, COCO will feel like the lofty, high-ceiling living room you wish you had.

Aesthetic: The space is a converted brick-and-timber warehouse, which is open and airy. The floor plan is a balanced mix of open communal workspaces, dedicated desks for individuals, and semi-private spaces for companies which they call “campsites” and have great city views.

Unique Amenities: A mother’s room, a shower and changing area, and adjustable sit/stand dedicated desks.

Partnerships & Collaboration: COCO is affiliated with Google for Entrepreneurs which gives their members guest access to dozens of Google Tech Hubs and Google Campuses across the globe. Likewise, as a member of LEXC (League of Extraordinary Coworking Spaces) their members can visit premium coworking spaces in the U.S. and overseas.

Ownership: COCO is a Minneapolis-based coworking company with four locations in Minnesota.

  • For more information visit: www.explorecoco.com

  • Coworking starting at: $85 for 5 days/month, or $300/month for unlimited open workspace

  • COCO West Loop is also available on Deskpass

For The Northsider:

Platform Ravenswood (4422 N.Ravenswood Ave, Chicago IL 60640)

A quiet workspace tucked away in the quaint, tree-lined Ravenswood neighborhood.

Perfect for: Ravenswood residents, CTA Brown Line riders, and remote workers that don’t want to work from home but don’t want to go downtown.

Not Good For: Although Platform’s private offices can accommodate between 1-5 people, the open workspace is better for members who work independently or part of a duo.

Environment: Platform is laid back and overall very quiet, with the occasional sound of the train overhead or someone grinding coffee beans. However, there are plenty of private spaces to take phone calls without disturbing other people.

The space itself has white walls with just the right amount of brightly colored designs to feel energizing without being overwhelming.

Unique Amenities: There’s always a rotating selection of coffee beans and snacks on hand, but the Ravenswood neighborhood itself has a big appeal. Within walking distance, you’ll find the famously decadent Margie’s Candies, a variety of small independent restaurants and businesses, and tree-lined streets for the perfect after-lunch stroll.

Platform’s best amenity is their outdoor patio with a grill, where members can connect while unwinding with a beer after a long day.

Partnerships: Each year, Platform hosts a pop-up market for the Ravenswood Artwalk which provides a tour of arts and the creative industry all throughout the neighborhood. They also offer evening meeting space for local community organizations, and an event space for small craft workshops.

Collaboration: Many members at Platform have met by chance and gone on to work together, and in one case the collaboration began with random eavesdropping and then turned into a highly successful web development shop.

For The Quiet & Quick Worker

mox.E (1550 S. State St, Suite 101, Chicago IL 60605)

mox.E is a small shared workspace inside of the nonprofit Entrenuity whose mission is to prepare entrepreneurs for success.

Perfect For: South Loop residents, and individuals or small teams looking for a quiet work environment for a few hours. mox.E is also a convenient and affordable spot to host training events and classes that can be held after business hours or on weekends.

Not Good For: Large teams or those seeking a place to work for long hours – the space is small and there are not many windows in the main coworking room.

Environment: There are two separate rooms to choose from with a mix of communal tables and designated desks, both accented with the mox.E brand’s deep red color. The workspace is distraction-free, and built for short bursts of hyper-focused productivity.

The tables and chairs can be easily rearranged for flexibility, or to accommodate groups and events.

Unique Services: mox.E offers access to the StartingUp Now business curriculum and resources, business consulting and coaching services, and support for new businesses. They aren’t included with mox.E membership but are available as additional services.

mox.E also offers a loan fund for minority entrepreneurs who need access to capital to help start and grow their businesses.

Unique Amenities: A small library, and the mox.E Speaker Series and mox.E Women monthly workshops and meetings designed for training, growth, support and encouragement for entrepreneurs.

Partnerships: In partnership with Goodcity Chicago, mox.E is offering an 8-week class providing first-time entrepreneurs with information, resources, and tools designed to bring business ideas to life. ‘PLAN to LAUNCH: Strategic Business Plan Development’ provides insights needed to craft a solid business plan and pitch an idea.

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