Coworking Around Chicago: Go Inside Assemble West Loop, Office Evolution, & NextSpace
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 anyplace 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 the Growing Company
Assemble West Loop (600 W. Jackson Blvd #100, Chicago IL 60661)
Short-term offices with no hidden fees and multi-location access.
Perfect For: Small companies who don’t need, or may not want their own office yet. Assemble boasts they are a “truly turnkey short-term office. All that companies have to do is show up with their computers and plug in. We handle all their office needs like cleaning, maintenance, HVAC, internet, and more.”
Environment: Simply put, Assemble West Loop is stunning. With a classic industrial-chic style, the space is filled with reclaimed wood, rustic metal, glass, and concrete, yet this melody of hard materials is harmoniously arranged and softened by warm glowing lights. The offices were built with beautiful glass walls which allows the entire space to feel airy and open, even in the interior offices and conference rooms.
More attractive than Assemble’s physical aesthetic, is the friendly and engaged community of tenant members. Entering their centrally-located kitchen is a guaranteed conversation starter. While spending a day coworking at Assemble, there wasn’t one person that came into the kitchen that didn’t interact with the community manager or another member.
Unique Services: Assemble seems to recognize that as companies grow, so do their needs, and Assemble wants to be along for the ride. Their month-to-month leases allow you to upgrade your office as needed, which is rare in an industry where shared office spaces have at least a 6 month or year long minimum commitment. This kind of flexibility is nonexistent if you went the traditional landlord-leased route for a standalone office. Plus you’ll get free access to their other Chicago location (in the Gold Coast), as well as their Minneapolis outpost, should you find yourself in the twin cities.
Unique Amenities: One of Assemble Office’s slogans is “One membership. No surprises.” in reference to their complimentary inclusion of services such as printing, copying, utilities, and use of conference rooms.
Noteworthy: A tradition that has grown organically among Assemble’s members is “Friday Morning Breakfast,” where members cook a variety of breakfast foods and there are two simple rules: 1) Everyone is welcome to join in and eat, as long as they contribute to the next week’s breakfast, and 2) Members cannot talk about work. According to Kerry, Assemble’s community manager, “It’s basically a way for us all to avoid doing any work for the first two hours on a Friday.”
Ownership: Its no surprise that Assemble Offices look like a Restoration Hardware ad, since co-founder Phil Domenico is a 20 year veteran in commercial and residential real estate and the principal of a general contracting and construction management firm.
Assemble’s day-to-day operations are managed by Kerry Butz, who seems to be every member’s friend and who’s fun and helpful demeanor is clearly a driving force behind Assemble West Loop’s comfortable and engaging atmosphere.
“Our space was originally the Otis Elevator company’s space in Chicago and we have exposed and highlighted some of the original equipment that was once in use here.” – Kerry Butz, Community Manager
For more information visit: www.assemblesharedoffice.com
Coworking starting at: $350/month
Offices starting at: $600/month
Assemble is also available on Deskpass
For the Airport Bound
Office Evolution O’Hare (8745 W. Higgins Rd, Suite 110, Chicago IL 60631)
Executive suites, conference rooms virtual offices, and a pay-per-use business lounge.
Perfect for: People with time to kill before or after flying out of O’Hare, anyone in town for an event at the Rosemont Convention District, and residents of the far northwest side of Chicago. For city dwellers, Office Evolution is easily accessible by the Cumberland Blue Line stop. For suburban-bound drivers its a convenient pit stop and a productive alternative to road rage when you find yourself stuck in traffic on the Kennedy expressway.
Environment: You won’t find an excessively-modern downtown aesthetic here, or an I’m-too-busy vibe from members. Instead, Office Evolution is outfitted with classic mahogany desks, warm colored walls, and according to their community manager Cheryl they’ve embraced an “Ohana” work culture. Ohana being a Hawaiian word that means family, group, or community of people working together for a common goal.
Unique Services: For Chicago visitors, Office Evolution has a drop-in business lounge that’s pay-per-use. So when your flight out of ORD gets delayed another 4 hours, your workflow won’t. For northwest side locals ready to make the leap from their kitchen table setup, Office Evolution offers fully furnished offices that are move-in ready.
Unique Amenities: Office Evolution is located in a building that has quite possible everything you may ever need: a fitness center, hair salon, dry cleaner, car wash and detailing service, and FOODA pop-up lunches with catered food from a different restaurant every day. And to top it all off: free parking. Try finding that in the loop!
Collaboration: Leveraging their easily accessible location from both the city or suburbs, Office Evolution has collaborated for years with the Susan G. Koman foundation for race packet pickups and event information.
Ownership: The Office Evolution brand is a franchise with locations in 10 states, but the O’Hare location is owned by Dan Synwolt, a Chicagoland IT sales executive. Cheryl Cafarella is the Business Center Manager and a warm welcoming presence every time you arrive, which makes the O’Hare location seem much more family-run than franchised.
“We’re all in business striving for our goals, we are all good quality people, and we want to help one another succeed. When you meet the other members of our Ohana, you’ll experience the Office Evolution Experience.” – Cheryl Cafarella, Business Center Manager
For more information visit: www.officeevolution.com
Pay-per-use starting at: $15/hour
Office Evolution O’Hare is also available on Deskpass
For CTA Brown Line Riders
NextSpace River North (230 W. Superior St, Chicago IL 60654)
Comfortable and quirky coworking, straight from California.
Perfect for: Perched right off the Chicago stop, NextSpace is perfect for CTA brown line riders looking for a near-downtown workspace, and is also the perfect alternative for River North residents that want to avoid heading into the loop. With private offices and a large open coworking area, NextSpace is an approachable option for both individuals and small teams who prefer a business casual atmosphere over the executive suites setting.
Environment: The signature look of NextSpace locations are brightly colored orange walls, quirky artwork, and a laid back California-cool demeanor.
The building’s elevator opens right into NextSpace and you’re immediately greeted by the community manager who usually sits in a comfortable chair right in the central lounge area. Pet lovers can rejoice because NextSpace is dog-friendly and you’ll very likely have a playful, furry friend welcoming you as well.
Passing by the kitchen you’ll see an assembly of smiling faces on the NextSpace Member Profile Wall. A colorful variety of hanging coffee mugs and row of bike racks also adds to the whimsical, clubhouse feel.
Unique Services: NextSpace hosts weekly happy hours at precisely, and playfully, 3:58pm every Thursday. Another tradition is “Tookie Tuesdays,” where members get together to share their favorite cookies, and bond over a mutual affection for sweet treats.
Unique Amenities: With a full kitchen, unlimited California coffee, and lunch outings for members, NextSpace knows that a coworking space that eats and drinks together, stays together.
Unique Partnerships: NextSpace members receive special perks from Zipcar, Blix Electric Bikes, Founders Card, Uber Eats, Amazon Web Services, LExC memberships, FlexJobs, and access to proofreading services.
Collaboration Examples: According to NextSpace, “Collaborations happen in our spaces everyday. While bumping into one another over coffee, Brad asks the community manager if he knows how to build a freelance contract and the community manager says no, but introduces Brad to Cici, a freelancer, who shows him examples of her contracts and then emails him a template. Now Brad’s ready for business. Real story. That’s the NextSpace Effect.”
Ownership: An interesting fact is that NextSpace was the first coworking space in Chicago (it was formerly The Coop which was founded in 2008 but acquired by NextSpace in 2013). Nextspace is a privately held company by its shareholders and managed by Chicago area native, CEO Kurt Grutzmacher, and CFO/COO Andy Van Valer. NextSpace RiverNorth, their only Chicago location, is currently manager by “Badassador” Jeff Carter.
“Our walls are adorned with quirky clocks, clever sayings and a splash of orange here and there, but the best wall in the space is our member wall, where you can find all the names and faces of the people who call NextSpace home.” – Michelle Ng, Marketing Coordinator